Legal Empowerment of the Poor: The Re-emergence of a Lost Strand of Human Rights?
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This paper considers the contribution of the UNDP’s Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP) framework to the rights and poverty reduction discourse. It argues that the value of LEP, as envisaged by its architect, Stephen Golub, is less of a new development paradigm, but rescues one of the strands of the rights-based approaches from a contested discourse, which is being lost to an overly legalistic interpretation. I respond to the critique that the LEP framework lacks conceptual rigour, by initiating a discussion on power and empowerment, the objective of which is to contribute to LEP’s conceptual development. LEP’s focus on power, as opposed to law, critically distinguishes it from the dominant rights-based discourse, yet little attention is paid in LEP literature to constructing a coherent concept of power or empowerment. This paper aims to contribute to the concept of empowerment within the LEP framework. I draw on the work of Lukes and the substantial body of work on empowerment by development scholars.
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