Human Rights or Global Public Goods:
Which Lens for Development Cooperation?
ABSTRACT: Over the last fifteen years, two approaches to development have gained a prominent place in the policy discourse of bilateral and multilateral donors. On the one hand, ‘Human Rights-Based Approaches to development’ (HRBA) aim at encompassing human rights standards into the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of development programs and policies. On the other hand, development seen through the lens of ‘Global Public Goods’ (GPGs) is not regarded as a matter of pure altruism or solidarity anymore. It is now considered to be in the self-interest of donors to cooperate and to combat the negative externalities that could arise in the absence of GPGs such as climate change mitigation or the eradication of communicable diseases. While both human rights and global public goods have so far been considered to be largely complementary enterprises, this article attempts to unravel contradictions between both paradigms and shed light on their respective legal impact for development cooperation.