Human Rights

We undertake research on human rights, in areas including disability, land reforms, modern slavery, sexuality, social protection and economic empowerment. Engaging with policymakers, advocacy organisations and donors on key issues, we take a rights-based approach to development programmes.

Human rights are increasingly important on the international development agenda. Rights-based projects and programmes are promoted and implemented across the world by donors, NGOs, academics and activists. Rights-based approaches to development have emerged out of several streams of thinking - out the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which marks its 70th anniversay in 2017; from a range of social, cultural and political struggles in both North and South; and a historical evolution from people seen as beneficiaries to being citizens. In practice, rights based approaches, whether employed by advocates or international agencies, are often based on a blend of all three of these.

Human rights are more meaningful and sustainable when they are claimed from the bottom up by people who live daily realities of poverty and inequality. Rights are not just an approach for development, they can be a real way for people to challenge power and structural inequalities. When people mobilise and struggle to gain their rights it may lead to better access to resources such as land, health, housing and water. Legal frameworks are important but many governments often violate people's rights as well as protect them. Many people use direct action strategies such as protesting and working with the media to draw attention to their rights.

IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Anuradha Joshi, IDS researcher More details

Photo of Carlos Fortin More details

Photo of Cathérine Müller, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Governance and Gender / Sexuality Research Fellow More details

Photo of Hani Morsi More details

Jody Harris photo More details

IDS staff or research student More details

More details

Photo of IDS researcher, Mariz Tadros More details

Mary Wickenden More details

Photo of Naomi Hossain, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Pauline Oosterhoff, Research Fellow, Participation Power and Social Change More details

IDS staff or research student More details

Richard Crook is a Professorial Fellow with the Governance Team, IDS. More details

Photo of Rosalind Eyben More details

photo of Shilpi Srivastava More details

Photo of Sohela Nazneen More details

Bridging the Gap Evaluation

This is a mid-term evaluation of the Bridging the Gaps Programme a global program operating in 16 countries across all the main key populations at-risk for HIV. More details

Community Based Peace Processes in Myanmar

Since 2013 Danny Burns has been working with Stephen Gray and Josephine Roos on systemic approaches to peace in Northern Myanmar. The work is rooted in community perspectives on the issues that face local people in Kachin and Northern Shan State. More details

Engendering Men: Evidence on Routes to Change for Gender Equality (EMERGE)

Our goal is to enable stronger leadership for working with boys and men to promote gender equality. We will do this by gathering, inter-relating and analysing evidence and lessons. These will be strategically disseminated in targeted and accessible formats for improved learning, policy and practice. More details

Final External Review of the Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme

This independent external review aimed to determine the extent to which the three year Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme (CCDRP) in Nepal, India, Zambia, Uganda, and Kenya, has met its expected impact, outcome and outputs. More details

Masculinities and Transition

The project will explore the experiences of men and shifting constructions of masculinities in current ‘transition countries’ More details

Participation and Gender Justice: Political Empowerment

This project is part of the Gender, Power and Sexuality Programme, funded by Sida. The project is working on two parallel initiatives, firstly, exploring political empowerment programmes for women and secondly, engaging with the international community to challenge and expose gendered forms of violence, particularly when this is politically motivated. More details

Pilot Study to Estimate the Extent of Child Soldiering, Child Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in South Sudan, DRC and Nigeria

This pilot study, funded by ILO, IOM, UNICEF and Walk Free Foundation, aims to estimate the extent of child soldiering and forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery in contexts of armed conflict in South Sudan, DRC and Nigeria. More details

Sexuality and Local Voices

The Sexuality and Development project is one of the workstreams of the Gender, Power and Sexuality (GPS) Programme, funded by Sida. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

The 'Right to Nutrition' in its Social, Legal and Political Context: A Scoping Study in Two Low-Income Countries

A ‘right to nutrition’ has been suggested as a normative concept that might increase the impact of nutrition policy and action. This research will start to explore the views of those working for improved nutrition, and their understanding of - or desire for - a right to nutrition approach to address the intractable issue of malnutrition and its social determinants. More details

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Wp515_FrontCover

What Does Closing Civic Space Mean for Development? A Literature Review and Proposed Conceptual Framework

IDS Working Paper 515 (2018)

What does closing civic space mean for development? Aid donors are concerned about the implications of restrictions on civil society for their partners and programmes, but to date there has been little clarity about what this means for development. More details

PB152_Cover

Improving the Wellbeing of Syrian Refugees in Urban Jordan

IDS Policy Briefing 152 (2018)

While 20 per cent of Syrian refugees in Jordan reside in camps, the majority live elsewhere including in urban areas. Syrian refugees are experiencing high levels of insecurity, often due to challenges with legal status documentation. More details

PB151_Cover

Urban Refugees in Lebanon: Housing, Residency, and Wellbeing

IDS Policy Briefing 151 (2018)

Lebanon hosts over a million Syrian refugees in addition to other displaced groups. These refugees have gravitated to urban centres, putting significant pressure on local infrastructure and services. More details

Introduction: Sexualities [Gender & Development]

Gender & Development 26.1 (2018)

This issue of Gender & Development addresses Sexualities. More details

Non-IDS publication

Women and Peacebuilding: Local Perspectives on Opportunities and Barriers

Development and Change (2018)

This article discusses new qualitative evidence on the opportunities and barriers to women's participation in peace-building processes, based on a comparative analysis of case studies conducted in Afghanistan, Liberia, Nepal and Sierra Leone. More details

VAWG Legislation - Helpdesk Research Report

The purpose of this VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls) Helpdesk paper is to provide a brief overview of what types of legislative reform are most effective in protecting women and girls from VAWG. More details

Does Intimate Partner Violence Decline as Women’s Empowerment Becomes Normative? Perspectives of Bangladeshi Women.

World Development 101 (2018)

The aim of this study is to clarify the relationship between women’s empowerment and IPV in a setting where gender roles are rapidly changing and IPV rates are high. More details

Supporting Sustainable Refugee Return in Protracted Situations

Every refugee statistic represents a life uprooted and on hold...Refugees need sustainable solutions so that they can live in dignity and peace. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Patterns and dynamics of bonded labour, child labour and child marriage in the Nepali Eastern Terai: Findings from life story analysis

This is a report of the analysis of multiple life stories collected across the Freedom Fund slavery and bonded labour hotspot in the Eastern Terai of Nepal. Life stories were analysed by NGO fieldwork staff and community representatives at the Collective Story Analysis workshop held 5-9th March 2017. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Participatory statistics to measure prevalence in bonded labour hotspots in Nepal: Report on findings of the baseline study

Forced labour of adults and children in the agricultural sector in Nepal is a well-documented problem. This report details a baseline study of bonded labour in three districts in South East Nepal with documented evidence of adults and children working through a system of agricultural bonded labour known as Harwa-Charwa. More details

Wp488_FrontCover

The Role of Social and Political Action in Advancing Women’s Rights, Empowerment, and Accountability to Women

IDS Working Paper 488 (2017)

Through the lens of four case studies focused on women’s political participation (Palestine and Sierra Leone), and the passage of domestic violence law (Brazil and South Africa), this paper looks at the role of social and political action in advancing women’s rights. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Practice Paper Lessons from Yowzit’s practitioner research and learning process

Lessons from Yowzit’s Practitioner Research and Learning Process

Making All Voices Count’s Research, Evidence and Learning component provides grants and mentoring support for real-time research, applied by tech for transparency and accountability practitioners, for project learning and improved practice. Practice papers document these grantees’ learning processes. More details

ER208_FrontCover

The Contribution of Digital Technology to Citizenship, Accountability and Rights: An Evidence Review

IDS Evidence Report 208 (2016)

The use of digital technologies has risen dramatically in the past century, building excitement among governments and technology experts about applying technology to improve accountability, transparency and the effectiveness of authorities. More details

WP471_FrontCover

Social Accountability in Big Cities: Strategies and Institutions in Delhi and São Paulo

IDS Working Paper 471 (2016)

There are signs that public services can improve in big cities when the urban poor hold providers directly accountable – what we now call social accountability. We do not know, however, to what extent the urban poor, through their civil society groups, engage in forms of social accountability nor what strategies they use. More details

PB120_FrontCover

Avenues for Donors to Promote Sexuality and Gender Justice

IDS Policy Briefing 120 (2016)

Donor agencies agree that addressing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI) is not only an important human rights issue but is also integral to efforts to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development. More details

PB117_FrontCover

The Global Importance of Including Mental Health Carers in Policy

IDS Policy Briefing 117 (2016)

Globally, there is growing awareness of the need to prioritise mental health as a development issue, with a historic step achieved by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals. Less understood is the impact that providing care for people who are struggling with mental illness has on those who provide it. More details

CDIPracticePaper_16

Using Participatory Statistics to Examine the Impact of Interventions to Eradicate Slavery: Lessons from the Field

CDI Practice Paper 16 (2016)

This CDI Practice Paper reflects on the use of participatory statistics to assess the impact of interventions to eradicate slavery and bonded labour. More details

Front Cover_What’s law got to do with it?

Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice: What's Law Got to Do with It?

Edited Collection (2016)

The contributions to this Edited Collection reveal the complexity of the deceptively simple question posed by its title: Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice: What’s Law Got to Do With It? More details

This is the cover to the report, 'Disability inclusion'.

Disability Inclusion

GSDRC Topic Guide (2015)

This guide summarises some of the most rigorous available evidence on the key debates and challenges of disability inclusion in development and humanitarian response. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Kenya: Year 3 Findings from the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility Study in Mukuru And Lango Baya, Kenya

In particular, we were interested in a) the incentives for the consumption of processed foods, b) the worries attached to their consumption and c) the structures in place to address some of these concerns. More details

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