Central Meeting Room 01, The Open University but available to students and those interested online
Professor Diane Elson is Emeritus Professor at the University of Essex, Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Development Studies and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from The Open University 2017. We are delighted to advise that Professor Elson will be joining us on 8 February to discuss 'Push No One Behind', a paper she prepared for the UN Committee on Development Report on Leave No One Behind. We have ensured that this seminar will be live streamed to our students, and also made available as a video afterwards. Please do join us, and feed into the discussion via Twitter.
Development is a disruptive process. It changes people’s lives, often for the better, though it sometimes bypasses them, leaving them behind. But for too many, the kind of development that prevails today pushes them behind, reducing their standard of living, depriving them of their livelihoods, and in the worse cases, depriving them of their lives. Diane's paper discusses examples of people being pushed behind in all parts of the world, by land enclosure and appropriation in the name of improving productivity and infrastructure, (and sometimes in the name of mitigating climate change); by development-induced climate change; by pollution; by employment in conditions that are harmful to health; by poorly designed and implemented trade liberalisation; and by financial crisis and subsequent austerity policies. The paper discusses what can be done to avoid pushing people behind, noting that there is no possible compensation that will make good some kinds of damage (such as premature avoidable death or loss of ancestral lands), and that where compensation would be possible (such as for loss of income and employment), it often does not materialise. The paper argues that if economic policy had to face the test of compliance with human rights treaties, rather than with ‘efficiency’ and GDP growth, the process of people being pushed behind would be ended. Framing economic policy in terms of human rights has the advantage of displacing utilitarianism as the ethical underpinning of economic policy. It also enables us to make a link to the ways in which many disadvantaged people are using the human rights system in mobilizing to claim their rights.
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