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Human Rights and Development: Relevant Literature

By Eduardo Sánchez Madrigal

​Eduardo Sánchez Madrigal is a master’s student and research assistant at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. His research interests include human rights and public international law.

Human Rights and Development: Relevant Literature

Main Titles


Markus Kaltenborn, Markus Krajewski, and Heike Kuhn (editors), Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights, Springer (2020).

This open access book analyses the interplay of sustainable development and human rights from different perspectives including fight against poverty, health, gender equality, working conditions, climate change and the role of private actors. Each aspect is addressed from a more human rights-focused angle and a development-policy angle. This allows comparisons between the different approaches but also seeks to close gaps which would remain if only one perspective would be at the center of the discussions. Specifically, the book shows the strong connections between human rights and the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Already the preamble of this document explicitly states that “the 17 Sustainable Development Goals … seek to realise the human rights of all”. Moreover, several goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda correspond to already existing individual human rights obligations. The contributions of this volume therefore also address how the implementation of human rights and SDGs can reinforce each other, but also point to critical shortcomings of the different approaches.

Link to Publisher ǀ € 51.99

Maija Mustaniemi-Laakso and Hans-Otto Sano(editors), Human Rights-Based Change: The Institutionalisation of Economic and Social Rights, Routledge (2017).

This book provides different analytical perspectives into how human rights-based approaches to development (HRBADs) contribute to change. Based on the understanding that HRBADs are increasingly integrated into development and governance discourse and processes in many societies and organisations, it explores how the reinforcement of human rights principles and norms has impacted the practices and processes of development policy implementation. To reflect on the nature of the change that such efforts may imply, the chapters examine critically traditional and innovative ways of mainstreaming and institutionalising human right in judicial, bureaucratic and organisational processes in development work. Attention is also paid to the results assessment and causal debates in the human rights field. The articles discuss important questions concerning the legitimacy of and preconditions for change. What is the change that development efforts should seek to contribute to and who should have the power to define such change? What is required of institutional structures and processes within development organisations and agencies in order for human rights integration and institutionalisation to have transformative potential? This book was previously published as a special issue of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 38.99 (paperback) and £ 115.00 (hardback)

Tahmina Karimova, Human Rights and Development in International Law, Routledge (2016).

This book addresses the legal issues raised by the interaction between human rights and development in contemporary international law. In particular, it charts the parameters of international law that states have to take into account in order to protect human rights in the process of development. In doing so, it departs from traditional analyses, where human rights are mainly considered as a political dimension of development. Rather, the book suggests focusing on human rights as a system of international norms establishing minimum standards of protection of individuals and minimum standards applicable in all circumstances on what is essential for a dignified existence. The various dimensions covered in the book include: the discourse on human rights and development interrelationship, particularly opinio juris and the practice of states on the question; the notion of international assistance and cooperation in human rights law, under legal regimes such as international humanitarian law, and emerging rules in the area of protection of persons in the event of disasters; the extraterritorial scope of economic, social and cultural rights treaties; and legal principles on the respect for human rights in externally designed and planned development activities. Analysis of these topics sheds light on the question of whether international law as it stands today addresses most of the issues concerning the protection of human rights in the development process.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 36.99 (paperback) and £ 125.00 (hardback)

Malcolm Langford, Andy Sumner, Alicia Ely Yamin (editors), The Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights: Past, Present and Future, Cambridge University Press (2015).

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have generated tremendous discussion in global policy and academic circles. On the one hand, they have been hailed as the most important initiative ever in international development. On the other hand, they have been described as a great betrayal of human rights and universal values that has contributed to a depoliticization of development. With contributions from scholars from the fields of economics, law, politics, medicine and architecture, this volume sets out to disentangle this debate in both theory and practice. It critically examines the trajectory of the MDGs, the role of human rights in theory and practice, and what criteria might guide the framing of the post-2015 development agenda. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in global agreements on poverty and development.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 31.99

Other Relevant Titles by Year


Sumudu A. Atapattu, Carmen G. Gonzalez, Sara L. Seck (editors), The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development, Cambridge University Press (2020).

Despite the global endorsement of the Sustainable Development Goals, environmental justice struggles are growing all over the world. These struggles are not isolated injustices, but symptoms of interlocking forms of oppression that privilege the few while inflicting misery on the many and threatening ecological collapse. This handbook offers critical perspectives on the multi-dimensional, intersectional nature of environmental injustice and the cross-cutting forms of oppression that unite and divide these struggles, including gender, race, poverty, and indigeneity. The work sheds new light on the often-neglected social dimension of sustainability and its relationship to human rights and environmental justice. Using a variety of legal frameworks and case studies from around the world, this volume illustrates the importance of overcoming the fragmentation of these legal frameworks and social movements in order to develop holistic solutions that promote justice and protect the planet’s ecosystems at a time of intensifying economic and ecological crisis.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 150.00

Bertrand Ramcharan and Robin Ramcharan, Conflict Prevention in the UN´s Agenda 2030: Development, Peace, Justice and Human Rights, Springer (2020).

This book analyses the UN’s Agenda 2030 and reveals that progress is lagging on all five interlocking and interdependent themes that are discussed: conflict prevention, development, peace, justice and human rights. Many voices have already been raised, including that of the UN Secretary-General that the Sustainable Development Goals will not be met by 2030 unless there is a re-doubling of efforts. Still, on development as such, there is much striving. The book puts the concept of preventive diplomacy into all of the issues of modern international relations, from the US/China confrontation to the various conflicts bedeviling Africa. It bridges the two worlds of the international relations specialist on the one hand and that of the academic interested in UN affairs on the other hand. There is normally little contact between those two specializations. The authors have taken several current issues to show how the millennium debates and the SDG targets are relevant to “realist school” conflicts, and that there is work under way to operationalize ideas and theories in this respect. This is the first ever discussion of the conflict prevention dimension in the UN’s Agenda 2030 which seeks to advance sustainable development with a view to reinforcing peace and justice on the foundations of respect for universal human rights. 

Link to Publisher ǀ € 109.99


Claire Fenton-Glynn (editor), Children’s Rights and Sustainable Development: Interpreting the UNCRC for Future Generation, Cambridge University Press (2019).

Children often fare the worst when communities face social and environmental changes. The quality of food, water, affection and education that children receive can have major impacts on their subsequent lives and their potential to become engaged and productive citizens. At the same time, children often lack both a private and public voice, and are powerless against government and private decision-making. In taking a child rights-based approach to sustainable development, this volume defines and identifies children as the subjects of development, and explores how their rights can be respected, protected and promoted while also ensuring the economic, social and environmental sustainability of our planet.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 95.00

Barbara Linder, Human Rights, Export Credits and Development Cooperation: Accountability for Bilateral Agencies, Edward Elgar Publishing (2019).

This book analyses to what extent the current human rights system allows affected individuals to claim accountability for human rights violations resulting from bilateral development and export credit agency supported undertakings. The author explores three legal pathways: host state responsibility, home state responsibility and corporate responsibility. The book concludes with recommendations on how to strengthen human rights accountability and improve access to justice for adversely affected individuals. It will be of great interest to those researching the intersection between human rights, development cooperation, and investment.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 100.00


Inga Winkler and Carmel Williams (editors), The Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights: A Critical Early Review, Routledge (2018).

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015. The SDGs make the central promise to Leave No One Behind and include a dedicated goal to reduce inequalities. Human rights advocates have put great hopes in the SDGs as an instrument for transformative change. But do they bring about the much-needed paradigm shift? Or were the extensive consultations and negotiations much ado about nothing? “Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights: A Critical Early Review” follows two central lines of inquiry. The chapters examine to what extent do the SDGs live up to the promise to reduce inequalities and provide for monitoring and policies that address the needs of marginalized and invisible populations. They further suggest transparent and binding accountability processes and mechanisms to ensure that the SDGs are more than lofty goals and bring power to their promise.The volume begins with three chapters that focus on different aspects of SDG 10 and the commitment to reduce inequalities. From this cross cutting SDG, the following three chapters look at the translation of equality and accountability into specific sectors: health (SDG 3) and labour (SDG 8). The chapters were originally published in a special issue of The International Journal of Human Rights.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 36.99 (paperback) and £ 120.00 (hardback)

Serges Djoyou Kamga, The Right to Development in the African Human Rights System, Routledge (2018).

The right to development (RTD) seeks to address global inequities hidden in world politics and global institutions through the game of influences played by powerful actors. The negative impacts of the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, and the subjugation of Africa through globalisation and its institutions are key factors that have caused Africa and African people claiming their RTD. This book examines how the African continent protects the right to development, examining the nature of the RTD and controversies surrounding it and how it is implemented. The book then goes onto explore the RTD at the regional level including through the jurisprudence of the African Commission and the African Court on Human Rights, at the sub-regional level including in sub-regional courts and tribunals, at the national levels through case studies and through the African Union governance institutions. Through this examination, the author unveils what are the prospects and challenges to the realisation of the RTD in Africa.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 125.00


Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Millennium Development Goals: Ideas, Interests and Influence, Routledge (2017).

Heralded as a success that mobilized support for development, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ushered in an era of setting development agendas by setting global goals. This book critically evaluates the MDG experience from the capabilities and human rights perspectives, and questions the use of quantitative targets as an instrument of global governance. It provides an account of their origins, trajectory and influence in shaping the policy agenda, and ideas about international development during the first 15 years of the 21st century. 

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 32.99 (paperback) and £ 120.00 (hardback)

Surya Deva and David Bilchitz (editors), Building a Treaty on Business and Human Rights: Context and Contours, Cambridge University Press (2017).

The calls for an international treaty to elaborate the human rights obligations of transnational corporations and other business enterprises have been rapidly growing, due to the failures of existing regulatory initiatives in holding powerful business actors accountable for human rights abuses. In response, Building a Treaty on Business and Human Rights explores the context and content of such a treaty. Bringing together leading academics from around the world, this book engages with several key areas: the need for the treaty and its scope; the nature and extent of corporate obligations; the role of state obligations; and how to strengthen remedies for victims of human rights violations by business. It also includes draft provisions for a proposed treaty to advance the debate in this contentious area and inform future treaty negotiations. This book will appeal to those interested in the fields of corporate social responsibility, and business and human rights.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 29.99


Bård Anders Andreassen, Vo Khanh Vinh, Duties Across Borders: Advancing Human Rights in Transnational Business, Intersentia (2016).

Human rights are intertwined with large processes of globalisation. One of these processes is the rapid world-wide growth of multinational business enterprises. This volume argues that normative and legal developments to regulate and govern the behaviour of transnational businesses represent a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. This frontier has borne witness to many victims, but there are also glimpses of hope and opportunities for expanding the respect and protection of human rights in the corporate sector at local, national, and global levels. The volume presents essays discussing current international challenges and efforts to advance human rights duties of transnational businesses. An introductory essay provides an overview of the debate and the individual chapters discuss legal, institutional, political, and social dimensions and obstacles to advancing business enterprises’ social and legal commitment to human rights norms. The book is aimed at legal and development scholars, public servants, and civil society practitioners with an interest in human rights commitments of transnational businesses. It is also of use for teachers and students in human rights law, corporate social responsibility courses, and courses in global development in degree programmes, and professional training programmes.

Link to Publisher ǀ € 80.00

World Bank; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Integrating Human Rights into Development: Donor Approaches, Experiences and Challenges, A copublication of The World Bank and the OECD, 3rd Edition (2016).

This study, originally published in 2006 and updated in 2011, is being updated in this third edition. The work was originally based on a study commissioned by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Network on Governance (GOVNET), which reviewed the approaches of different donor agencies and their rationales for working on human rights. The third edition reviews the current practice in the field and draws together experiences that form the core of the current evidence around the contribution of human rights to development. It discusses both new opportunities and conceptual and practical challenges to human rights that concern the development partnerships between donors and partner countries, and the workings of the international aid system more broadly. This edition includes recent developments in the area of human rights, aid effectiveness, and sustainable development.

Link to Publisher ǀ Free

Barbara Oomen, Martha F. Davis, and Michele Grigolo (editors), Global Urban Justice:
The Rise of Human Rights Cities
, Cambridge University Press (2016).

Cities increasingly base their local policies on human rights. Human rights cities promise to forge new alliances between urban actors and international organizations, to enable the ‘translation’ of the abstract language of human rights to the local level, and to develop new practices designed to bring about global urban justice. This book brings together academics and practitioners at the forefront of human rights cities and the ‘right to the city’ movement to critically discuss their history and also the potential that human rights cities hold for global urban justice.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 76.99


Markus Kaltenborn, Social Rights and International Development: Global Legal Standards for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Springer (2015).

This book addresses practitioners in development cooperation as well as scientists and students who are interested in the interaction of human rights and development issues. In the practice of development cooperation, linking poverty reduction programs with human rights is mainly achieved using so-called “Rights-based Approaches to Development.” In this context the right to an adequate standard of living (including access to food, water and housing), the right to health and the right to social security are of particular importance – human rights that will play a key role in the design of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which is currently being negotiated as a framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals. The book provides an overview of the main international legal standards that are relevant for the protection of social rights, while also analyzing the content of those rights. Moreover, it informs readers on the current debates surrounding the extraterritorial obligations of donor countries and the duties of transnational corporations and international organizations (e.g. the World Bank and WTO) with regard to the implementation of social rights in the Global South.

Link to Publisher ǀ € 51.99