Are rights-based approaches no more than a metaphor, or do they point to a consensus around a set of desirable changes in the policies, programmes and behaviour of aid agencies? This article reviews the apparition of rights-based approaches in bilateral development aid agencies in recent years, which it distinguishes from rhetorical commitments to human rights or human rights mainstreaming. Rights-based approaches are meant to be transformative of how aid is conceptualised and delivered. While there have been differences in emphasis in the approaches adopted by some agencies, this article shows that a common core can be identified and some transformations are under way. However, much remains to be done to influence not just the behaviour of individual agencies, but the international consensus on aid and the place of human rights within it.
IDS Bulletin - Vol 36 No 1, pp. 19-30 [DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-5436.2005.tb00175.x]