No. 8: The updated UN Inter-Agency Common Learning Package on a Human Rights-Based Approach to programming

 

The UN Inter-Agency Common Learning Package on a Human Rights-Based Approach to programming: updated, enhanced and launched in English, French and Spanish by the United Nations Development Group-Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism.

Interview with Adriana Jacinto, Learning and Training Specialist, UN System Staff College on the updated Common Learning Package on a Human Rights-Based Approach to programming.

Also, insights from Valerie Julliand, Resident Coordinator (Dominican Republic), Aida Robbana, UN Coordination Officer (Tunisia) and Esther Almeida, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR (Ecuador) on the use of the Common Learning Package in their country context.

With special thanks to all interviewees and to resource person Carlos Fernandez, UN Coordination Specialist, Dominican Republic, for their contributions.

Background

The Common Learning Package (CLP) on a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to programming aims to strengthen the capacity of UN staff to apply a HRBA to UN common country programming. It was developed in 2006 by the Working Group on Training of the Action 2 interagency Task Force (OHCHR, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNIFEM) in collaboration with the UN System Staff College (UNSSC). The CLP is based on the 2003 UN Common Understanding on HRBA.  The primary audience of the HRBA CLP is the UN Country Team (UNCT). National partners are another important audience as the objective of the trainings is taking forward rights-based national programming. As HRBA is one of the five UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) programming principles, the CLP guides UNCTs in applying a HRBA to every stage of the UNDAF: assessment & analysis, priority setting, planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

How has the original version of the CLP been used?

 

Adriana Jacinto: Since its launch in 2006, the CLP has been used extensively in training activities at the country, regional and global levels. Using the CLP, the UNSSC has provided HRBA training to 47 UNDAF roll- out countries. As a result, a HRBA has been applied to a growing number of Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and UNDAFs.

A wide number of UN agencies, UNCTs and national partners have also adapted the CLP for their own contexts, for example, OHCHR’s Training Guide on Human Rights in Budget Monitoring, Analysis and Advocacy; UNFPA’s Human Rights-Based approach to Programming – Practical Implementation Manual and Training Materials; UNESCO’s Human rights-based approach to journalism -Training manual, Vietnam; and UNAIDS’ Operational Guide on Gender and HIV/AIDS: a Rights-Based Approach. Some of the agencies’ training material and case studies and examples have subsequently been used by the UNSSC in training at the country level.

What are the major differences between the last package and the updated version?

 

AJ: Five years on from its creation the CLP needed to be updated to reflect changes in the human rights and development field. So too, from the many trainings implemented, important lessons had been learned on how the CLP could be improved.  The major changes in the CLP are the following:

  • A stronger focus on Results Based Management (RBM). The links between HRBA and RBM have been strengthened thereby helping users develop more rights based oriented results in their UNDAF.
  • An additional section on country experiences. This will help users learn from and build upon the experience of other UNCTs in applying the HRBA.
  • An updated facilitation manual. This will support UNCTs who also want to use the CLP to train their national partners in using the HRBA.
  • More participatory and examples-based modules throughout the package

Dominican Republic: A Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming as a Key Tool to Create a Human Rights-Based UN Development Assistance Framework – Valerie Julliand, Resident Coordinator, Dominican Republic.

“The HRBA/RBM training is a very useful experience and helps facilitating the role of the Resident Coordinator advocating for human rights inside and outside the “house”. It promotes “One UN”, as a HRBA is a common basis for all agencies and transcends individual agency mandates.”

Could you give us a brief introduction of the human rights situation, and the main focus of UNCT programming in the Dominican Republic?

Valerie Julliand: Some issues that have been pointed out in the Universal Periodic Review in 2009 include discrimination of persons of Haitian descent and migrant workers, as well as violence against women and children. Recommendations about these issues were accepted by the Dominican Republic and consequently, the UNCT prepared a proposal for the Government to support the implementation of measures to help solving them.

You have recently facilitated a training to promote application of a HRBA. Can you provide some details on the training; who were the participants and what were the main objectives of the training?

VJ: 26 members of the UNCT and technical staff from 11 UN agencies participated in the HRBA training. Furthermore, there were 20 participants of different line ministries and civil society organizations. The main goal was to have a common language on how to include human rights in the programming cycle of the next UNDAF – as the Dominican Republic was an UNDAF roll-out country. We have focused on the practical modules to identify the roles and capacity gaps of rights-holders and duty-bearers during the CCA. We set up eight inter-agency groups in accordance with the  Millennium Development Goals; each one of them carried out an analysis of the National Development Strategy as it pertains to the relevant Goal with very interesting conclusions for our work with disadvantaged groups, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and child and maternal mortality.

What feedback did participants provide on the training?

VJ: For many of the participants this was a great opportunity and they expressed that they had never approached human rights from this useful and simple perspective for programming. I remember that one of the participants from UNDP said that it was the best training exercise because it brings out explicitly those who are always left behind in our societies, those who need more support and those who are most vulnerable.

What are the specific opportunities, and possible challenges, of using a HRBA to programming in the Dominican Republic?

VJ: First, a HRBA to programming is an opportunity to strengthen communication and dialogue, and secondly, government officials increase their understanding of one of our key programming principles, human rights, which is inherent to our work and therefore is not negotiable. Thirdly, through the HRBA we were able to revise the National Development Strategy 2010-2030 from the human rights perspective. The HRBA helped the Government to identify groups and areas which need to be prioritized. As the HRBA is perceived as technical, respectful, and impartial, we succeeded in facilitating a fruitful programming dialogue without creating a conflict. Finally, the final output was an UNDAF which is people-centered and easily communicates what the UN agencies, programmes and funds are doing in the Dominican Republic.

How has the training changed the way programming is done in the UNCT and among national partners?

VJ: The main output is an UNDAF 2012-2016 which is based on the people and has a human face. We talk about women’s empowerment and rights, children and youth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. Now, the challenge is to keep using this perspective in the UNCT work plan, where we are working on migration and women’s issues. We need to make an effort to expand the HRBA to the rest of our work and understand that human rights are central and everybody should respect them.

Do you have a message for your colleagues around the world who are planning to promote the application of the HRBA in their respective UNCT?

VJ: The HRBA training has provided an opportunity to discuss many issues within the UNCT with a different perspective and also with our Government and civil society partners. I believe it is a very useful experience and helps facilitating the role of the Resident Coordinator advocating for human rights inside and outside the “house”. It promotes “One UN”, as a HRBA is a common basis for all agencies and transcends individual agency mandates.

Tunisia and Djibouti: New Opportunities for Strengthening Human Rights
Aida Robbana, UN Coordination Officer, Tunisia

“The training changed the UN staff ‘s way of thinking: first they had identified some “traditional” areas of cooperation; whereas after doing the training they identified some sensitive human rights issues.”

What are the specific opportunities, and possible challenges, of using a HRBA to programming in Tunisia?

Aida Robbana: In Tunisia, we have undertaken trainings from 2007 until the end of 2010; in this period we have trained more than 500 persons – UN staff, general directors, prosecutors, lawyers, programming and planning staff of Ministries, and NGOs. The revolution of 14 January 2011 has offered tremendous opportunities for strengthening human rights in programming. The demand is now emanating from institutions that knew that the UN were undertaking such trainings but didn’t want to be part of it because the nature of the training -human rights were perceived as a sensitive issue in the previous Government. There are also new opportunities to train institutions, for example, we are currently approaching the police corps, and we have been approached by the Centre d’Information, de Formation, d’Etudes et de Documentation sur les Associations (IFEDA), the national institution carrying out trainings for all associations and NGOs in the country for three trainings. The tentative date for these trainings is in the last week of September, 2011. IFEDA has a roster of more than 9000 associations and NGOs. Our aim is to find the best ways to train a national institution that can be the depository of the methodology and can respond to the growing training demand on a HRBA/RBM to programming. Additionally, I was involved in training the UNCT in Djibouti.

How have you made use of the CLP?

AR: In terms of substance, the workshops covered all elements of the package and the participants were given a solid basis to understand and apply a HRBA/RBM. The group exercises went well and were mentioned positively in the evaluation forms, especially the “Powerwalk”. The training was well appreciated and national partners asked for more in-depth analysis of the case studies in particular. In Djibouti, the Resident Coordinator and all UN heads of agencies were present during the three day training. This was powerful because national partners need to see the coherence of the application of a HRBA in all our programming.

 

How has the training changed the way programming is done in the UNCT and among national partners?

AR: The training made the participants and UNCT think about new areas of cooperation that were not identified originally as sensitive human rights issues. The training changed the UN staff ‘s way of thinking: first they had identified some “traditional” areas of cooperation; whereas after doing the training they identified some sensitive human rights issues, for example concerning qat and the Toumal minority.

Do you have a message for your colleagues around the world who are planning to promote the application of the HRBA in their respective UNCT?

AR: Training the UNCT first can help as UNCT staff can then be your “ambassadors” when you are doing the training with national partners. Also, ensuring the HRBA training is completed along with RBM training ensures that sensitive human rights issues can be discussed safely; in Tunisia for example, we have taken this opportunity to train more Ministries because they know that the country has signed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Furthermore the presence of OHCHR is important because it contributes to increased understanding: they have answers to normative questions concerning the country’s responsibilities regarding human rights; it is also a great means of advocacy towards human rights. Their presence is complementary to the work done by the trainers on the programming tools.

Ecuador: Using a Human Rights-Based Approach to Support National Planning Processes – Esther Almeida, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR, Ecuador.

“Each UN staff member should receive the course since apart from giving basic human rights and results-based management concepts; the course gives clear guidance and tools on how to put human rights into practice, no matter the field of work or mandate.”

You have recently participated in the new CLP HRBA/RBM training. How did you perceive the HRBA/RBM workshop?

Esther Almeida: The UNSSC HRBA/RBM workshop, based on the updated version of the CLP, was very useful to our current work with national partners since we had the chance to carefully go through the HRBA methodology and tools to understand the logic of the exercises and extrapolating certain elements to the national planning process. Through its presentations, practical examples and group exercises, the CLP has the ability to engage practitioners of different backgrounds around the main concepts and tools of the HRBA. Key messages were spread along the sessions to make sure that we, as UN staff, understand our human rights mandate and the possibility that the HRBA, as a bridge, can assist us in translating and operationalizing human rights standards into programming. Each UN staff member should receive the course since apart from giving basic human rights and results-based management concepts; the course gives clear guidance and tools on how to put human rights into practice, no matter the field of work or mandate.

How do you think utilizing a HRBA to programming can support national planning processes?

EA: In Ecuador, in coordination with the National Secretariat for Planning and Development (SENPLADES), OHCHR is currently implementing a project that aims to integrate the HRBA in selected planning methodologies and tools at different levels. With the leadership of SENPLADES, one of the first results are guidelines to develop sectorial public policies from a human rights perspective. These guidelines will be tested in a specific sector to validate its utility and applicability. One key element of this pilot project will be the training component addressed to public planning officials. We will depart from the HRBA training package developed by the UNSSC, but some adjustments need to be made to ensure that the constitutional framework, the national development plan and other national instruments reinforce the human rights role of the State. A deep analysis and strategic choices are needed from the State side and the HRBA could guide these processes and encourage governmental officials to analyze issues from a different perspective.  The HRBA methodology will also need to be more flexible so to let public planning officials use their own sector specific tools. The challenge is big, considering that public officials are not very familiar with human rights standards and they are considered something rhetorical and outside to their functions. Therefore the training course, as included in the CLP, needs to depart from basic human rights concepts and propose concrete examples on how human rights standards are useful to programming.

Updating of the CLP – Adriana Jacinto

How was the CLP updated?

AJ: The work to revise and enhance the CLP was one of the first activities of the United Nations Development Group-Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism (Now the UNDG Human Rights Working Group (UNDG-HRWG)). A UNDG-HRM Task Team, composed of UNDOCO, FAO, ILO, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO and co-led by UNFPA and the UNSSC, was created to update the CLP. In February 2011, 20 focal points from 12 UN agencies, including colleagues based in the field with extensive experience in using the CLP in trainings on HRBA, met at the UNSSC in Turin to complete and validate the major changes to the CLP.  This validation meeting came after four months of preparatory work by the Task Team for this activity. This preparatory work included introducing new modules to the package; updating existing modules, PowerPoint presentations and hand-outs; and collecting UNDAF examples that could be used for the training. After four days of collaborative work and interaction among the participants, the changes to the training material were validated. The second phase of this work, which is currently ongoing, is to develop thematic modules, to complement the updated package.

How can people access the CLP?

AJ: The updated CLP is available online in English, French and Spanish here. The HRBA CLP is meant to be a flexible tool for training on HRBA.  As such, it can be enhanced and complemented on a regular basis. We encourage all users to share their feedback. Furthermore, UNSSC will organize a HRBA/RBM Skills Workshop in Turin, Italy, from 17 to 21 October 2011. Registration is open up to 30 September and can be done online.

The United Nations Development Group – Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism

The United Nations Development Group – Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism (UNDG-HRM) was established in November 2009, responding to the call from the Secretary-General in 2008 for a dedicated senior level mechanism to institutionalize the mainstreaming of human rights in the UN’s development work.

The objective of the UNDG-HRM is to strengthen system-wide coherence, collaboration and support for Resident Coordinators and UNCTs on human rights mainstreaming. In contributing to this overall objective, it focuses on four broad priorities:

1.       Promoting a coordinated and coherent UN system-wide approach towards the integration of human rights principles and international standards into UN operational activities for development;

2.       Providing coherent and coordinated support to Resident Coordinators and UN country teams in mainstreaming human rights;

3.       Developing a coherent UN system-wide approach, to providing support towards strengthening national human rights protection systems at the request of governments; and

4.       Contributing to the integration of human rights issues in the overall UNDG advocacy on development agenda and global issues.

The UNDG-HRM has a membership of 18 UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes and is chaired by OHCHR with a rotating vice-chair- currently UNDP- reporting to the full UNDG. Click here for more information on the UNDG-HRM.

For more information on the CLP please contact the UNSSC at:

Adriana Jacinto, Learning and Training Specialist HRBA, UNSSC

For more information on the UNDG-HRM, please contact UNDOCO:

Emilie Filmer-Wilson, Policy Specialist, Human Rights Coordination, UNDOCO

The Insights Series -a HuriTALK knowledge product- aim to provide members with a concise overview of emerging issues in the field of human rights and development, and develop the capacity of members to view development issues through a human rights lens.

The views expressed in the Insights Series do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or UNDP