Integrating a human rights-based approach in development – with a focus on Afghanistan’s National Solidarity Programme
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Laws
Afghanistan is a conservative country with deeply entrenched traditional values. It is also a country facing numerous challenges. In the 1990s, Afghanistan suffered from a disastrous civil war. Before that, it was the site of a proxy war between the West and the Soviet Union, resulting in the invasion of Afghanistan. As a result of numerous and ongoing conflicts, its citizens hardly have had access to health facilities, education, clean drinking water, food, shelter and employment in order to lead a dignified life. Things have begun to improve, nonetheless. Since 2001, the international community has poured a large amount of development funding into Afghanistan. One programme that has received significant international assistance is the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) which provides basic rights to 85 percent of communities in rural Afghanistan. This thesis considers the human rights-based approach (HRBA) to development, with a focus on the NSP. In particular, this thesis asks whether implementation of the NSP is consistent with the five core principles of HRBA. These principles are: recognition of rights, participation, empowerment, non-discrimination, and accountability and transparency. The thesis considers whether, and to what extent, the Afghan government has been able to embrace the HRBA while implementing the NSP. I attempt to answer this question by drawing on the relevant literature on the NSP and interviewing different individuals who have been involved with the design and implementation of the Programme. While the field work indicates that the extent of application of each principle of the HRBA varies, the study concludes that the NSP observes the hallmarks of the HRBA bar the recognition of rights as a legal obligation, and the extent of participation from women and persons with disabilities. These, the study argues, are largely related to the challenges of implementing a human rights-based approach to development in a post-conflict country like Afghanistan with a deeply conservative society.