Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Hans P. Schmitz, Associate Professor, Political Science

Honors Reader

Tom Perreault, Associate Professor, Geography

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Latin American Studies


Many scholars and practitioners believe the rights-based approach represents a significant step forward in the development field towards the eradication of poverty. In lieu of blind service provision, aid organizations implementing the rights-based approach use human rights to address underlying causes of poverty such as exclusion, discrimination and corruption. However, integrating human rights into the development process is no clean, simple task. The rights-based approach has been conceptualized and implemented in many different ways around the world since its emergence in the 1990s. Scholars and practitioners now ask: Which rights-based approach is the most successful? I examine the rights-based approaches implemented by two organizations in Latin America, a region that has been especially receptive to the approach. I chose one international NGO, Plan, and one local organization, Puntos. These two organizations envision the role of human rights in development very differently, which resulted in very different strategies and outcomes. After conducting an extensive literature review, I found both approaches came with their own advantages and challenges depending on how each organization defined their role in their communities. Plan’s service-driven approach resulted in a more measurable increase in rights enjoyment, especially with regards to health and education. Puntos’ social change-focused approach worked to change the social context in which rights violations occur. Perhaps an ideal combination of the two approaches would address the shortcomings of each and expand the rights-based approach to its greatest potential. Regardless, a study of these two different rights-based approaches hold important implications for the future of the rights-based approach – whichever form it takes.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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