Human Rights based development is a central but vague and contested approach in development theory and practice. There is considerable rhetoric about its broad conception, techniques, mechanisms and its effect of constructing just relationships and empowering the weakest. In contrast, this thesis argues that existing interpretations and applications of the approach have overlooked the effect of relationships, power interactions, and dynamics of constructing a world view of the meaning, process and realization of the right. This relational perspective is utilized to investigate the work of four Egyptian NGOs working with the Participatory Development Program of the Canadian International Development Agency. The study analyzes types of interaction between stakeholders involved in the implementation process, the donor and the state, NGOs and the state, NGOs and the population, NGOs and the donor, and NGOs and the private sector and media. These relationships are then situated in Egyptâ s socio-political context using a Gramscian lens to demonstrate dynamics of interactions between the state, private and civil sector. The findings show how the type of interrelationship between stakeholders compromised outcomes and failed to stimulate new just constructions. Further, it confirms the impact of the type of relationships on molding a hegemonic view, which by turn, stall transformations and reproduce the same structures of power. These findings emphasize the complexities of the approach. It suggests that the HRBA is both a social and political construction; accordingly it stipulates the formation of political and cultural legitimacies to human rights along with a relational perspective in order to realize a comprehensive approach for change.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Name

MA in Political Science

First Advisor

Glavanis, Pandeli

Committee Member 1

Elnur, Ibrahim

Committee Member 2

Arafa, Salah

Document Type



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