Credit is Not a Right

Is credit a human right?
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This paper critically examines Mohammed Yunus's statement that access to credit is a human right. It inquires whether a rights-based approach to microcredit will be effective in making quality, affordable credit more available to poor families and whether it is a constructive step in terms of the broader goal of global poverty reduction.The notion of credit as a human right flows from the argument that we must be committed to providing access to the tools that are most likely to deliver the basic elements of life. Here, microcredit joins a list of other possible interventions that may help poor families raise their incomes and secure health, food, and shelter. But elevating microcredit to the status of a right risks diluting the urgency of attention given to other interventions. Conclusions include:

  • Need to focus on combating the lack of access to credit due to discrimination along gender, economic, ethnic, religious, and social lines;
  • This would include the elimination of legal obstacles to providing access to credit and taking active steps to promote or fulfill rights;
  • These efforts fit under access to credit as a right that is part of the fight against discrimination;
  • Expanding the rights discourse to explicitly include a right to credit does not add anything desirable to this agenda.


About this Publication

By Gershman, J. & Morduch, J.