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Poverty and Human Rights: Sen's 'Capability Perspective' Explored


  • Vizard, Polly

    (Research Associate at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE)


'Poverty itself is a violation of numerous basic human rights.' (Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights) The idea that freedom from poverty is a basic human right that gives rise to moral and legal obligations of governments and other actors has received increased international attention in recent years. Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has pushed the international agenda on poverty and human rights forward by characterizing extreme poverty as one of the key human rights problems that the world faces. The recognition of poverty as a human rights issue is also increasingly reflected in the work of international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and of campaigning organizations such as Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. In Poverty and Human Rights Vizard analyses the importance of the work of the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen for contemporary debates about poverty and human rights. Bringing together perspectives from ethics, economics, and international law, Vizard provides a detailed and concise analysis of Sen's contributions and examines the ways in which his work has promoted cross-fertilization and integration across traditional disciplinary divides. She demonstrates that Sen has made a major contribution to the development of an 'interdisciplinary bridge' between human rights and theoretical and empirical economics, and to the establishment of poverty as a human rights issue. Vizard demonstrates that Sen's work has deepened and expanded human rights discourse in important and influential ways. In ethics, Sen is shown to have challenged the exclusion of poverty, hunger, and starvation from the characterization of fundamental freedoms and human rights, and to have contributed to the development of a framework in which authoritatively recognized international standards in this field can be meaningfully conceptualized and coherently understood. In economics, Sen is shown to have set out a far-reaching critique of standard frameworks that fail to take account of fundamental freedoms and human rights, and to have moved the economics and human rights agenda forward by pioneering the development of new paradigms and approaches which focus on these concerns.

Suggested Citation

  • Vizard, Polly, 2006. "Poverty and Human Rights: Sen's 'Capability Perspective' Explored," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199273874.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199273874

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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics, Ethics, and Culture > Social justice > Liberal theories > Capabilities
    2. > Economics, Ethics, and Culture > Social justice > Liberal theories > Libertarianism and rights


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ian Gough, 2014. "Climate Change and Sustainable Welfare: An Argument for the Centrality of Human Needs," CASE Papers case182, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    2. Canton, César G., 2012. "Empowering People in the Business Frontline: The Ruggie’s Framework and the Capability Approach," management revue - Socio-Economic Studies, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, vol. 23(2), pages 191-216.
    3. Gough, Ian, 2014. "Climate change and sustainable welfare: an argument for the centrality of human needs," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58630, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. César González-Cantón & Sonia Boulos & Pablo Sánchez-Garrido, 2019. "Exploring the Link Between Human Rights, the Capability Approach and Corporate Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 160(4), pages 865-879, December.
    5. Polly Vizard & Sakiko Fukuda-Parr & Diane Elson, 2011. "Introduction: The Capability Approach and Human Rights," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22.
    6. Sebastian Silva-Leander, 2011. "On the Possibility of Measuring Freedom: A Kantian Perspective," OPHI Working Papers 49, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    7. Polly Vizard, 2010. "What do the public think about economic and social rights? Research Report to Inform the Debate about a Bill of Rights and a Written Constitution," CASE Reports casereport61, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    8. Paul Shaffer, 2015. "Two Concepts of Causation: Implications for Poverty," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 46(1), pages 148-166, January.
    9. repec:cep:sticas:/182 is not listed on IDEAS

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