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date: 26 January 2021

International Organization and Human Developmentlocked

  • David C. EllisDavid C. EllisDepartment of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Liverpool


Human development as a concept seeks to make individuals the driving force behind state development. Even though international organizations (IOs) are formal agreements by and for the benefit of member states and have historically prioritized states’ interests, it can still be argued that human beings have long been the central concern of many IOs, even for some of the oldest surviving ones today. Nowadays, the human development framework appears to serve as the principal intellectual and normative construct regarding how to achieve national economic growth while building broad social justice and opportunity for individuals. Its allure derives as much from its coherent philosophical critique of past empirical development failures as it does from its incorporation of values and ethics appealing to a broad spectrum of professionals working in the development community. The human development approach was in part necessitated by the monopolization of economic development by states even from the advent of the enterprise in the 1950s. But despite the widespread adoption of the human development framework as an operative concept in the practice of development, it is not without controversy. Most of the critique is directed toward the underlying premises of the capabilities approach and the elements its adherents must elucidate in order to effectively implement its tenets in policy.

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