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

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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

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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

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photo of Shilpi Srivastava More details

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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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This is the image for 'The Muslim Brotherhood in Contemporary Egypt'.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Contemporary Egypt: Democracy Redefined or Confined?

The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the oldest and most influential Islamist movements. As the party ascends to power in Egypt, it is poised to adopt a new system of governance and state–society relations, the effects of which are likely to extend well beyond Egypt’s national borders. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Mutilating Bodies: The Muslim Brotherhood's Gift to Egyptian Women

In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood have offered to circumcise women for a nominal fee as part of their community services, a move that threatens to reverse decades of local struggle against the harmful practice argues Mariz Tadros More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 389, 'Women’s Empowerment Revisited: From Individual to Collective Power among the Export Sector Workers of Bangladesh'.

Women’s Empowerment Revisited: From Individual to Collective Power among the Export Sector Workers of Bangladesh

IDS Working Paper 389 (2012)

Bangladesh has become known as something of a success in advancing gender equality since the 1990s. Yet as this paper notes, close observers of social change in Bangladesh have become dissatisfied with the limits of a focus on individual economic empowerment. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Where's the 'Bread, Freedom and Social Justice' a Year after Egypt's Revolution

Things are getting worse rather than better for people who took part in Egypt's revolution last January, and the new government doesn't seem to be a stabilising force. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Transforming Health Systems to Serve the Wellbeing of Indigenous and Minority People

This is the report from a conference organised by IDS and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) to bring together key stakeholders and experts from Asia, Africa and Latin America to share their expertise and establish a common agenda to address inequities in universal health coverage that affect indigenous and minority peoples. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Anatomy of Coping

Evidence of People Living through the Crisis 2008 - 11 More details

IDS Working Paper

Shifting Power? Assessing the Impact of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives

IDS Working Paper 383 (2011)

This paper arises from a review of the impact and effectiveness of transparency and accountability initiatives which gathered and analysed existing evidence, discussed how it could be improved, and evaluated how impact and effectiveness could be enhanced. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Freedom and Wellbeing: Cairo Report

The Global Dialogue on Freedom and Wellbeing was held in Cairo on 3 October 2011. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Politics of Citizenship: Experiencing State-Society Relations from the Margins

Contemporary South Asia 19.3 (2011)

This introduction discusses the articles in this Special Issue, which are all focused on exploring the everyday interactions between marginalised individuals and groups and the state in contemporary India. More details

Non-IDS publication

Rewriting Citizenship in Displacement: Displaced People’s Struggles for Rights

Indian Journal of Human Development 5.2 (2011)

For displaced people, citizenship (or the lack of it) is a crucial issue. Displaced people are denied formal citizenship and rights but are now claiming them, subjectively seeing their de facto experience as lived citizenship. Protests, claim assertions and transnational alliances are ways in which their struggle for rights is manifested. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Interactions of ‘Power’ in the Making and Shaping of Social Policy

Contemporary South Asia 19.2 (2011)

This paper focuses on the interactions of power as analysed through the formulation story of a recently enacted social policy, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), India. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Policy Making in India: A Dynamic Process of Statecraft

Pacific Affairs 84.1 (2011)

This paper problematizes the concept of the state by studying its role and interactions with society in the realm of making policy. To achieve this, the case of a recently formulated social policy in India, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), is examined. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Marginality, Agency and Power: Experiencing the State in Contemporary India

Pacific Affairs 84.1 (2011)

The idea of the state has shown remarkable resilience over the last couple of decades, despite assaults on it from neoliberal doctrines and the forces of globalization. During this period, the abiding presence and role of the state has been particularly evident in the contemporary political life of the Asia Pacific region. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Introduction: Contextualising “Rights” in Sexual and Reproductive Health

BMC International Health and Human Rights 11.Suppl 3: S1 (2011)

The idea for this supplement arose from discussions among a set of research partners associated with the Realising Rights Research Programme Consortium (RR RPC), an international partnership funded by the UK Department for International Development from 2005-10 that focused on neglected areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). In the Consortium, work on rights has been concerned with ways of bridging the gap between international legal human rights frameworks as applied to SRHR, and how these play out for actual people ‘on the ground’. More details

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Introduction: Gender, Rights and Religion at the Crossroads

IDS Bulletin 42.1 (2011)

We are at a critical conjuncture in our engagement with issues of religion, politics and women’s equality – in particular in relation to the so-called ‘Muslim world’. More details

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Religion, Rights and Gender at the Crossroads

IDS Bulletin 42.1 (2011)

This IDS Bulletin questions what the intersection of global, local and national politics means for policy and practice in the realm of religion and gender. More details

IDS Research Summary

Bringing Together Pleasure and Politics: Sexuality Workshops in Rural India

IDS Research Summary of IDS Practice Paper 6 (2011)

This paper shares the learnings that emerged from the ‘Sexuality and Us’ training programme, run by the NGO Nirantar. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Literature Review on Active Participation and Human Rights Research and Advocacy

Amnesty International has adopted 'Active Participation' and 'Engaging Partners' as cross-cutting thematic foci. It is exploring exactly how these concepts are understood by different actors in Amnesty International, and what their implications are for Amnesty International's work. More details

Social Protection for Africa’s Children

Social Protection for Africa’s Children

Social protection is an increasingly important part of the social policy dialogue in Africa, and yet because of its relatively new place in a rapidly evolving agenda, evidence on critical design choices such as targeting, and on impacts of social protection interventions, is mostly limited to case studies or small, unrepresentative surveys. More details