Are Rights-Based Approaches helping (re)politicise development NGOs?.Exploring the Spanish case

Sergio Belda-Miquel;Alejandra Boni;Iván Cuesta-Fernández;Jordi Peris
International Development Plannning Review

Over the last decades, the rise of managerialism has contributed to the depoliticisation of practices and discourses of Non-Governmental Development Organisations (NGDOs). From some quarters, the adoption of rights-based approaches (RBAs) has been seen as an opportunity to challenge this process. From this standpoint, this article aims to explore to what extent RBAs may have helped (re)politicise the discourses of NGDOs. In order to do so, we look at how eleven Spanish NGDOs that have adopted an RBA are reshaping their understandings of issues related with power, participation and accountability. The analysis reveals that the adoption of RBAs seems to be a process full of diversity, tensions and contradictions, both across and inside organisations. Whilst in some cases RBAs may have consolidated managerialism, the opposite is also true. We hypothesise that external requirements from donors, as well as the different backgrounds, profiles, organisational cultures and previous political stances of the organisations, may be shaping how they conceive RBAs and, consequently, how they adopt them.