Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Ronald C. Kramer

Second Advisor

Dr. Sue Caulfield

Third Advisor

Dr. Donald Cooney

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Gerald Markle


The origins of human rights are of interest to social scientists. This study focuses on the construction process of the right to development as related to the UN. The emphasis is on the claims-making processes surrounding the creation of the right to development. To understand these processes, a theoretical framework has been developed. This framework combines interactionism, collective-behavior approaches, a dialectical theory of law-creation, and a capitalist world-economy theory. It is expected that this theoretical framework will explain the specific, organizational, and structural processes that led to the creation of the right to development.

Data for this study came from UN documents. In analyzing these data, a number of research questions were raised. The data showed that, in this case study, structural factors such as capitalism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism have influenced the claims-making processes surrounding the right to development. The data also showed that organizational factors (e.g., the existence of the UN), and claims making processes were decisive in shaping the right to development and its content.

A number of directions for future research are suggested. The theoretical framework can be further refined and developed through such research. A study of the construction of the right to development contributes to sociological research on constructionism, and to legal research on human rights and development.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access