This book systematically analyses the EU’s commitment to a human rights-based approach to development through the lens of global justice theory.

It identifies limits to the EU’s approach and discusses how standardised policies, particularly in the case of human rights sanctions, may be perceived as neo-colonially intrusive and can come at the cost of recognizing the experiences and interests of vulnerable groups and allowing for partner countries’ democratic ownership of their own development trajectory. Engaging with primary sources including official documents, reports, and 45 semi-structured interviews with EU and member state officials, the book also presents a novel explanation for why the EU, at times, steps out of its commitment to rights-based development and chooses differentiated foreign policy responses to similar situations.

This book will be of key interest to scholars and students of EU foreign policy, EU development policy human rights, and international relations as well as policy practitioners working in the fields of development, human rights and democracy promotion.

chapter 1|22 pages


chapter 2|28 pages

Rights-based approaches

A framework for analysis

chapter 3|26 pages

The EU's development policy post-2020

Continuity or change?

chapter 4|28 pages

Rights-based vanguards?

Paradoxes in the like-minded member states' aid effectiveness policy

chapter 5|22 pages

The EU's human rights clause

25 years of aid conditionality

chapter 6|25 pages

Rights-based approaches and vulnerable groups

The case of LGBTI human rights

chapter 8|20 pages


The EU's development policy in a shifting global order