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Specifying and Justifying a Basic Capability Set: Should the International Human Rights Framework be given a more Direct Role?


  • Polly Vizard


The paper considers the role that the international human rights framework should play in the extension and application of Sen's capability approach. It discusses how emerging international standards in the field of human rights, supported by international human rights law, provide a basis for the specification and justification of lists of central and basic capabilities, and associated lists of duties on governments, international organizations and other international obligation-holders (both at the individual level, and collectively—through international co-operation). The idea of combining the capability framework with a background or supplementary theory of international obligation in the field of human rights is examined in the light of broader theoretical debates about the extension and application of the capability approach. The notion of a “human rights-based capability list” is then introduced. Finally, the paper suggests some possible applications of “human rights-based capability lists” in human rights advocacy and international poverty analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Polly Vizard, 2007. "Specifying and Justifying a Basic Capability Set: Should the International Human Rights Framework be given a more Direct Role?," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 225-250.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:35:y:2007:i:3:p:225-250 DOI: 10.1080/13600810701514787

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