Using Human Rights for Development: a Fiji Case Study
Over the past decade there has been a marked shift towards human rights in the policy of multilateral development institutions, international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government donor agencies. 'Rights-based' development - in which development and poverty alleviation is viewed through a human rights lens - has become the language of choice among the international development community. As their proponents argue, rights-based approaches to development bring a degree of legal accountability to the alleviation of poverty, turning it from an act of charity to one of social justice. While this shift towards human rights is well documented at the global level, less is known about the understanding and use of human rights for development by NGOs at the local level. By focusing on a particular local context - Fiji - this research investigates how local NGOs understand and use human rights for development, and aims to identify the main challenges surrounding the use of human rights at this level. The findings from interviews with representatives of Fijian NGOs suggest that while human rights are being successfully applied to development in Fiji, they also face some challenges. Two of the most significant challenges are the politicised gap between human rights and development organisations and resistance to human rights on cultural grounds. These challenges demonstrate the impact local social, political and cultural contexts can have on the implementation of global ideas, and have numerous implications for the successful application of rights-based approaches to development at the local level.