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Book Chapter

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Human rights scholars and organizations often call on governments to adopt ‘human rights-based approaches’ (HRBAs) to many policy areas, from climate change to health policy. HRBAs identify rights and obligations, and advance the principles of participation, accountability, equality, and non-discrimination. This chapter argues that HRBAs have been exported to many fields without ever being sufficiently integrated within human rights advocacy. We find that NGOs often fail to adhere to foundational human rights principles in their own work, reproducing unjust power hierarchies, objectifying victims, and disempowering rights-holders. Were HRBAs adopted by more human rights organizations, the face of human rights advocacy would change — often dramatically. We conclude with questions that could guide human rights practitioners and scholars to advance reform.


Business Organizations Law | Commercial Law | International Law | Law