chapter  18
9 Pages

Toward a Measure of Dignity

The advancement of economic and social development and the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms have been principal purposes of the United Nations since its founding in 1945.1 For most of the past half century, however, they have been largely pursued by the international community as distinct, at times even contradictory goals. For those engaged in the cause of development, human rights approaches were often viewed as “political,” controversial, and unhelpful to the constructive endeavours of development.2 For some, human rights could even be sacrificed in the name of development, in an instrumentalist quid-pro-quo that saw human rights as a temporally deferrable luxury of rich countries. In this context, it is hardly surprising that, prior to the 1990’s, no major aid agency had significantly integrated human rights into its development policies and programmes.3 At the same time, many human rights advocates emphasized civil and political rights, while neglecting economic and social rights, and opted for strategies of critical scrutiny to the exclusion of support for institution building and constructive engagement.4