Human Rights Review

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 225–248 | Cite as

The Potential of the Human Rights-Based Approach for the Evolution of the United Nations as a System

  • Alisa Clarke


The United Nations (UN), facing increasingly intense challenges in the fulfillment of its mission, also harbors the potential for enhanced effectiveness, relevance, and legitimacy in the form of the human rights-based approach. The human rights-based approach (HRBA) is one model for translating the organization’s values into a more adaptive, inclusive, dynamic, and responsive system of processes and outcomes. In the arena of politics, its meeting with a meaningful degree of receptiveness could signal a growing acceptance of the validity of structural approaches to development and other issues despite traditional defensive positions on human rights. Application of the HRBA in programming is leading to greater appreciation for addressing core disparities and promoting empowerment for sustainable outcomes. It is also cultivating new qualities in development practitioners, advancing creativity, openness and responsiveness in organizational culture. In feeding its evolution in this way, the UN as a system has the potential for deeper, longer-term mission fulfillment and thus ensuring its viability.


Human rights-based approach Development Evolution System United Nations 



Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Vision InstituteNew YorkUSA

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