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

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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

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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IDS publications on international development research

Popular Actions, State Reactions: The Moral and Political Economy of Food in India

Food Riots and Food Rights project report (2014)

Can popular mobilisation activate accountability for hunger? In 2012, a group of researchers set out to explore this question through field research in four countries: Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Mozambique. The research was framed in ideas about a contemporary ‘moral economy’ – which when breached, would lead people to mobilise – either in the form of riots, or as movements for the right to food, thus activating state responses. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, India: Examining Pathways towards Establishing Rights-Based Social Contracts

European Journal of Development Research 26.3 (2014)

This article aims to assess the type of social contracts that led to the passage of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) by analysing the debates prevalent during the Act’s formulation, and the underlying beliefs about the existing social contract. More details

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Country Progress Report (2012-2013): Nigeria

IDS Evidence Report 46 (2013)

IDS is partnering with ActionAid International (AAI) to help each of the four ActionAid countries to develop and implement an advocacy strategy on making unpaid care work visible in public policy, as well as integrate unpaid care work issues into each country’s programming. More details

Promoting and Protecting Religious Diversity in the Middle East

Promoting and Protecting Religious Diversity in the Middle East

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 5 (2013)

In the aftermath of regime ruptures in the Arab world and with the political ascendancy of Islamist groups, there has been a mass exodus of citizens belonging to religious minorities from the region. More details

Non-IDS publication

Feminist Activism, Women's Rights, and Legal Reform

This collection investigates the relationship between feminist activism and legal reform as a pathway to gender justice and social change. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Invisible Men with the Arms

here is no doubt that militarism, whether of a national or international character, has been responsible for gross violations against women’s rights, and for the perpetration of the worst kind of gender based violence worldwide. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Women's human security rights in the Arab world: on nobody's agenda

Human security - the idea of putting the security apparatus in the service of people's needs for safety and protection, rather than the security interests of a ruling regime or the interests of international actors, has never had a chance to thrive in Egypt - or in any other country that has experienced revolts. More details

Non-IDS publication

Urban Settings as an Opportunity for Realizing All Child Rights

South-South Cooperation for Child Rights Working Papers 3 (2013)

This brief focuses on the challenges posed by urban poverty and exclusion, and the need to ensure that urban settings live up to their potential for realizing the rights of all children as the region continues to develop rapidly. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Backlash after the Demise: The Brothers and the Copts

On an Islamist-affiliated channel, program guest Shaykh Mahmoud Shaaban, a Salafist, concocted a story that Christians had congregated in Tahrir Square and that their main chant was “Jesus is the solution,” as if Christians were countering the Muslim Brotherhood slogan, “Islam is the solution.” More details

IDS publications on international development research

Egypt: growing anger with western opinion

The initial response of policy-makers, the media and analysts, to the events in Egypt and their aftermath, has galvanized large sections of the population to take a strong stance against those who work in policy influencing spaces in the west. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Copts Under Mursi: Defiance in the Face of Denial

Middle East Report MER 267.Summer 2013 (2013)

It happens more often that tiffs over mundane matters blow up into violent and overtly sectarian confrontations. Most such instances involve assaults by Muslims upon Christians. And the disputes are fiercer and prolonged. The most dramatic example is the April 7 attack on the Coptic Orthodox cathedral in the 'Abbasiyya district of Cairo -- dramatic because the cathedral is the papal seat, a place which had previously been sacrosanct. More details

IDS publications on international development research

J'accuse the West

There is a perception among the non-Islamist political movements and civil society that there is a western conspiracy against the Egyptian people in support of the Muslim Brotherhood’s totalitarian regime, it is now time to switch sides before it is too late, argues Mariz Tadros. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Tearing Egypt Apart

The eruption of protests, violence and civil disobedience in Egypt this month is a replay of the scene in 2011 before the status quo was ruptured, but the current regime’s attacks on women and religious minorities in order to quell opposition is more pervasive than anything seen before, argues Mariz Tadros. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Egypt: The Islamization of State Policy

Fears that Egypt’s constitution will be used to inhibit freedoms and enhance the powers of the Islamists in power have already proven to be well founded. The new constitution makes the entire governance system subject to the strictures of Islamic jurisprudence, argues Mariz Tadros. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Signs of Islamist Facism?

How do we explain the escalation of violence in Egypt? Mariz Tadros argues that the government in place is displaying particular characteristics of totalitarianism specific to fascist regimes. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Perilous Slide Towards Islamic Dictatorship

President Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration, even if it is cloaked in democratic and revolutionary rhetoric, presages a slide to authoritarianism, argues Mariz Tadros. More details

The Hegemony Cracked: The Power Guide to Getting Care onto the Development Agenda

IDS Working Paper 411 (2012)

This paper uses power analysis and the notion of hegemony to enquire into the historical neglect of unpaid care in the international development sector. More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 400, 'What Next for Power Analysis? A Review of Recent Experience with the Powercube and Related Frameworks'.

What Next for Power Analysis? A Review of Recent Experience with the Powercube and Related Frameworks

IDS Working Paper 400 (2012)

The Working Paper aims to contribute to a growing pool of experience of applying power analysis for improving social activism and organisational practice. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Introduction to the Special Issue: Water Grabbing? Focus on the (Re)Appropriation of Finite Water Resources

Water Alternatives 5.2 (2012)

Recent large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural production (including biofuels), popularly known as 'land grabbing', have attracted headline attention. Water as both a target and driver of this phenomenon has been largely ignored despite the interconnectedness of water and land. More details