Human rights and development are inextricably linked. They have the same ultimate objective to improve human well-being and freedom, based on the inherent dignity and equality of all people.
Human rights and development policies and strategies are mutually reinforcing and complementary. Whereas development will focus on social welfare and on economic growth, human rights established a universally accepted legal regime that conceptualises rights in terms of 'duty bearers' and 'rights holders'. This consensual legal framework is continuously expanding and adapted to different political, social and cultural environments.
A human rights based approach to development hence bases on the empowerment of citizens the demand for delivery of the rights and services which they are entitled too, while at the same time developing the capacity of states to fulfil the obligations to protect, respect and promote the rights of their citizens. The strategic use of human rights in development policies is therefore a powerful tool in the strengthening of bottom up and participatory approaches to empower specifically vulnerable groups.
Beyond the rights based approach, there is a growing understanding that poverty reduction and related indexes are directly impacted by the non respect of certain political human rights. For example, female genital mutilations, as well as other forms of violence against women, have a direct impact on maternal health. In 2000, the world leaders formally acknowledged the link between human rights, development and governance with the adoption of the 2000 Millennium declaration. Human rights are accordingly essential to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.