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  • Author or Editor: Stephen McCloskey x
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This chapter discusses international development and the social, economic and cultural rights most closely associated with it. It critical assesses the contrasting approaches of two development agendas that emerged in the 1980s: (a) the idea of human development as the enhancement of human rights, civil liberties and individual freedoms as encapsulated in the United Nations’ Human Development Report (UNDP, 2000) and economist Amartya Sen’s Development As Freedom (1999); and (b) neoliberalism’s determination that human development, economic and social rights would directly result from the unfettered activities of the market. The chapter discusses the correlation between neoliberalism, austerity and a weakening of social and economic safeguards and development practice. It concludes by asking if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help to push back the neoliberal economic model that undermines rights and impedes development.

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Development education (DE) is a sub-sector of international development which aims to tackle the underlying causes of poverty, inequality and injustice in the Global North and South with an interactive learning methodology that supports active global citizenship. Based on the radical pedagogy of the Brazilian activist, educator and philosopher, Paulo Freire (1996), DE has its roots in the Global South but has inspired educational practice across the world (Bourn, 2012: 25–​26). Development education is defined by the Irish Development Education Association as ‘an educational process which enables people to understand the world around them and to act to transform it. It works to tackle the root causes of injustice and inequality, globally and locally to create a more just and sustainable future for everyone’ (IDEA, 2020).

Central to this definition of DE practice and Freire’s methodology is the concept of praxis –​ a combination of reflection and action. As Freire argued, ‘to surmount the situation of oppression people must critically recognize its causes, so that through transforming action they can create a new situation, one that makes possible the pursuit of a fuller humanity’ (Freire, 1996: 29).

What appears to be lacking in the response of the international development sector to the COVID-19 pandemic to date has been an analysis of its root causes. There has been a similar studied omission with regard to the climate emergency, despite suggestions that both crises –​ COVID-19 and climate change –​ are ‘inevitable outcroppings of the prevailing global economic growth model’ (Selby and Kagawa, 2020: 106).

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What will be the economic legacy of COVID-19? What are the likely consequences of the pandemic for the future of international development? This chapter reflects on these questions, taking as its starting point the role of the state as an agent of development. In the post-1989 period of rapid globalization, the role of many states in economic decision-making and management was minimized as the financialization of the global economy enhanced the power and wealth of corporations and the private sector. However, the pandemic has seen the return of the state to save jobs and businesses, making a mockery of the decade of austerity that followed the 2008 crash. The chapter argues that the international development sector should assume a more overtly political role post-pandemic to challenge any return to austerity and ensure that state resources are deployed to those who need them most: the poor, marginalized and voiceless in the Global North and South.

Open access