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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn Manzo
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This paper explores the rise of rights-based development (RBD) and its endorsement by prominent international institutions (such as the United Nations) and International Development Agencies (IDAs) like the World Bank. It situates RBD in global political context and analyses it in relation to the international politics of development, especially the politics of neo-liberal adjustment policies in Africa. The paper shows how RBD emerged against a backdrop of debate about four international issues associated with neo-liberalism and its discontents, namely globalisation and uneven development; capability and good governance; human rights and human development; and NGOs in the politics of development. Debates about those four issues keep repositioning the state as the central actor in RBD, and holding the state accountable for development (or the lack thereof) under international law. The paper's basic point is that state-centric RBD is paradoxical and highly political. Greater accountability is being demanded of states-especially in Africa-from the same neo-liberal forces (such as the World Bank) charged with weakening state capacity, undermining democracy, and diminishing state authority. In terms of international power relations and the politics of development, RBD does signal something of a willingness to rethink certain aspects of the dominant neo-liberal agenda. And yet adjusted states are being subjected-in the name of RBD-to novel methods of international surveillance and forms of conditionality. States are ultimately held responsible for human rights violations, even when it is non-state actors (and their neo-liberal policies) that caused those rights to be violated in the first place. RBD is, therefore, a partial answer (at best) to the questions of empowerment and change raised by critics of neo-liberalism. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Author(s): Manzo K
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Print publication date: 01/11/2003
ISSN (print): 0016-7185
ISSN (electronic): 1872-9398
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