Focusing on rights language, ideas and practices in the field of health, the panel will address questions regarding the kinds of anxieties generated for development actors and institutions as well as the uncertainties in health outcomes entailed by the shift to rights based approaches.
A universal, legal language of rights and a 'rights based approach' have come to dominate development discourse. Especially in countries of the global South, but not confined to them, the turn to rights has led states to focus on the agency and mobilisation of the poor and powerless to claim entitlements to food, livelihoods, education and healthcare. But how are rights understood and used by state and non-state actors in development programmes? Focusing on ideas such as accountability, 'choice', 'participation' and 'voice' in the framing of entitlements to health, the panel will seek to address questions regarding i) the kinds of uncertainties generated for development practice, actors and institutions by the shift to rights based approaches; ii) whether rights based approaches are successful in empowering locally disadvantaged groups or whether they actually serve to further disempower the poor and marginalised from gaining better health outcomes; iii) what alternative, localised languages of health and human rights are drawn upon when social actors believe their healthcare needs are not met by the services available, and legal redress is regarded as ineffective? iv) the extent to which the discourse on human rights is exclusionary in terms of its focus on particular categories (poor, women) or conceptual paradigms (northern rather than southern theories of rights).