What is the Role of Human Rights in Human Development Outcomes?

    A poster with the words 'human rights.' Photo by: Jeremy Schultz / CC BY

    Is concern for human rights needed in order to achieve human development results, particularly better health and education services? Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, says such concern is not necessary nor sufficient.

    Devarajan explains that concern for human rights is not necessary because a number of countries that have poor human rights records, such as Cuba and China, score high on various education and health indicators. It is also not sufficient because there are countries like South Africa and India that do well on human rights indicators but have relatively poor human development results, he adds.

    The World Bank official says a possible reason for the latter is that making education and health human rights implies that a country’s government should fund and provide education and health services. However, there is evidence that governments of many countries have poor records in delivering such services to their people, Devarajan says.

    “In short, achieving human development outcomes requires improving accountability in service delivery, which may or may not be driven by a concern for human rights,” he explains.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.