Human rights

Human rights emerged as a new field in international development in the 1990s. By 1997, the UN Secretary-General had called on all UN development agencies to mainstream human rights (1997), while development donors and NGOs increasingly committed themselves to a human rights approach. Diverse factors explain this seeming breakthrough of human rights. First, a growing…» more

Violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is considered one of the most pervasive human rights abuses of our times, affecting more than one in three women globally. VAWG is most likely to be perpetrated by someone known to the victim, such as a family member or intimate partner, and takes many different forms. This includes,…» more

Social norms

In recent years the development community has witnessed an upsurge of interest in the role that social norms may play in perpetuating a host of harmful practices, especially practices affecting women and girls.  There has long been interest in how deeply held beliefs, attitudes, and norms can justify male dominance and reinforce behaviour and institutions that…» more

Religion and conflict

The role of religion in international relations and its relationship with conflict and with peacebuilding is increasingly acknowledged but remains disputed. Secular resistance to incorporating religion in public affairs has given way to numerous academic publications, discussion forums and public initiatives. Governments and international organisations are increasingly willing to examine religion and incorporate it, to…» more

Inclusive institutions

The term ‘inclusive institutions’ does not refer to a clearly defined field of theory or policy within international development, but to a normative sensibility that stands in favour of inclusion as the benchmark against which institutions can be judged and also promoted. Inclusive institutions are usually portrayed as both a means through which inclusive development…» more

Measuring the performance of PFM systems

Government budgets and their supporting systems – often referred to as Public Financial Management (PFM) systems – are one of the key tools that governments use to turn policy statements and intentions into the delivery of goods and services. In fact, much of what governments do depends on raising, borrowing and spending public resources. Interest…» more

Children and young people

Why do children and young people matter in development? Firstly, there are a lot of them – in Sub-Saharan Africa under-15s represent 43% of the population (Population Reference Bureau, 2015). Secondly, they are often disproportionately affected by poverty – in the UK 28% of children live in households below the poverty line (Department of Work…» more

Responding to mass atrocities and human rights abuses

Mass atrocities are generally understood as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but many other human rights abuses are committed in conflict-affected contexts. There are a range of responses to these abuses, particularly by national and international actors, constituting international criminal justice and transitional justice. Development actors are increasingly directly involved in managing conflict or…» more

Ageing and development

The world’s population is ageing across all regions of the world. Extraordinary developments in technology, medicine and public hygiene over the last 100 years have resulted in increasing numbers of people living longer than ever before, with better health and the prospect of a more active life long into old age. This trend coupled with…» more


The aim of peacekeeping is to preserve peace, normally after a peace agreement has been achieved. It has evolved from a primarily military activity, observing cease-fires and separation of forces after inter-state conflict, to multidimensional missions taking on a range of civilian tasks. Peacekeeping is conducted by both the United Nations and by regional organisations,…» more

Disability and development

More than one billion people (around 15% of the world’s population) are disabled, with 80% of them living in the global South, estimates the first ever World Report on Disability jointly published by the WHO and World Bank in 2011. Furthermore, disabled people are disproportionately represented among the poor, have higher levels of unmet health…» more

Multidimensional poverty

While people generally recognise poverty instantly when they encounter it, they often find difficulty in saying precisely what it is.  Experts share the same difficulty and hence definitions frequently reflect what can most readily be measured. Poverty is commonly taken to be low income and, in global debates, is often indexed by income of $1.25…» more

Extreme and persistent poverty

Extreme and persistent poverty is once again a high profile issue thanks to the commitment to end extreme poverty and leave no one behind in the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Given the great difficulty of the task ahead, it will remain so for some years to come. While a lot is known about…» more

Public financial management in fragile states

Effective Public Financial Management (PFM) in fragile states is a critical foundation for basic economic governance and in establishing the performance, legitimacy and accountability of functional states. Extreme poverty is increasingly located in these countries, which face multiple challenges of ongoing conflict, instability and resource constraints, both financial and human. A June 2015 summary ICAI…» more


Wellbeing is advocated as a positive, more inclusive approach to development, which goes beyond a narrow focus on policy or programme objectives to comprehend the real impact on people’s lives. Wellbeing is, however, a highly contested term, with different concepts and methods producing quite different results. This briefing provides a guide to the main approaches…» more

Climate finance and public finance management

Much attention has been directed at the international commitments to assist developing countries respond to climate change. This is reflected in the debate over the commitments made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: at the UNFCCC negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries committed to jointly mobilise $100 billion climate finance per…» more

Acceptance strategies in conflict

Acceptance is a risk management strategy based on reducing threats to aid workers by reducing the motivation of others to harm them. The thinking is that if aid work is viewed positively, it will generate goodwill towards aid workers and allow them to work safely. Degrees of acceptance can vary, ranging from a high level…» more

Gender responsive budgeting

Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) brings together two issues that are not commonly associated with one another: gender equality and public financial management. GRB argues that gender equality principles should be incorporated into all stages of the budget process. GRB initiatives seek to improve the results of budgets in general, and gender equality and women’s empowerment…» more