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Rights-Based Approach to Trade

Social Science Research Council | July 1, 2005

Oxfam’s core mission has always been to address the issues of poverty and social injustice. From our earliest years, we have sought to go beyond providing people with seeds and tools to addressing systemic causes of poverty.

Over the past several years, we have increasingly been defining ourselves as a rights-based organization. Our approach is anchored in a commitment to securing human rights with a particular bias toward social and economic rights. In short, we believe that poverty is a consequence of the systemic exclusion of distinct social groups from the rights, resources and opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.

Social exclusion, structural barriers and similar terminology sound very exciting and seductive. But we believe that this is not simply a matter of changing vocabulary. Adopting this approach has changed the way we work and the problems that we work on.

The following sections explain why Oxfam decided to pursue a rights-based approach, how we implement this approach and the challenges inherent in the approach. The final section will describe the link between our rights-based approach and our work on international trade.

By Raymond Offenheiser

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Read More: Development, Poverty, Trade, United States

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