An Akan perspective on human rights in the context of African development

The present dissertation is a multi-disciplinary project that examines the relationship between human rights and development in Africa, with specific focus on Ghana. The proposition, which is expressed in a theory of community emancipation, is that human rights hold the key to the attainment of sustainable holistic development. The theory of community emancipation represents the Akan notion of rights which speak to the lived experiences (traditional, colonial and post-colonial) of Akan peoples. It is offered as a contribution to the evolution of distinct African notions of rights. The Akan perspective on rights aims at making human rights a more accessible concept that people can relate to and to use as an effective tool to attain development. The theory is used in a general context to analyse Western development foreign policies implemented in post-colonial Africa with the active collaboration of African leaders. It concludes that these policies "failed" due to the lack of attention to human rights. Consequent to this is the creation of a culture of rights abuse in Africa and the unfounded claim propagated by African leaders that human rights does not matter for Africans, and is not part of the African culture. The work also examines Western development policies in the post-Cold War era and concludes that in general the development NGO concept is not conducive to the promotion of sustainable holistic development in Africa. The solution, among others, lies in local human rights NGOs collaborating in a new relationship with their foreign counterparts; and both given a more prominent role to play in the political, as well as the economic liberalisation processes
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