On 20 April 2022, the Law and Development Research Group hosted a roundtable on human rights-based approaches to development (HRBAD). The HRBAD roundtable is a joint initiative of the Law and Development Research Group, University of Antwerp and the Flemish Interuniversity Research Network on Law and Development (law&dev).
The 2022 HRBAD Roundtable continued a young tradition of holding an annual research day with the Flemish Interuniversity Research Network on Law and Development (law&dev) on the dedicated topic of human rights-based approaches to development (HRBAD). HRBADs have been mainstreamed by bilateral and multilateral donors as well as by NGOs. Belgian development cooperation (ENABEL) too has adopted a HRBAD, and may call on law&dev or on individual members to provide expert advice. What an HRBAD means in practice is not always well understood though. There have been calls also to better study and assess the added value of HRBADs, and some have suggested that we need to move beyond HRBADs.
At the roundtable, leading experts shared their HRBAD experiences, and commented on student presentations. Students taking the Human Rights and Global Justice class in the University of Antwerp LLM Sustainable Development and Global Justice module/SUSTJUSTICE advanced their arguments pro and con a HRBAD on topics such as: balancing rights; balancing social and environmental concerns; deep inequality; and companies as duty-bearers.
The HRBAD roundtable was a unique opportunity for the LLM students to reflect collectively on putting theory into practice, to showcase their knowledge and skills, and to engage with law and development scholars. For researchers based in Flanders, the roundtable was a great opportunity to learn more about HRBADs, to meet fellow researchers, and to engage with the students.