How do human rights guide programme formulation?

A human rights-based approach has significant implications for the manner in which development priorities and objectives are identified and country programme outcomes formulated.

To help the United Nations determine its priorities, the CCA/UNDAF guidelines call attention to the Millennium Development Goals, the Millennium Declaration, national priorities reflected in the human rights treaties ratified by the country, as well as recommendations of the treaty bodies. Human rights help by establishing boundaries, for example by requiring a core minimum threshold of entitlements for all, and by highlighting key issues that must be addressed through programming, for example that priority attention should be given to the poorest of the poor and groups suffering discrimination. Even if not all can be reached at once, efforts should be made to identify these groups at the outset and include them immediately in planning. Human development analysis and tools, in turn, help in prioritizing efforts to realize rights for poor groups, suggesting which kinds of rights are the most important for a particular group at a particular time or the sequence in which rights should be approached for a given group.

Under a human rights-based approach, development efforts should contribute to realizing human rights. Accordingly, national goals and the overarching objectives of development should be geared towards, and articulated as, the positive and sustained changes in the lives of people necessary for the full enjoyment of a human right or rights. The basis for this definition lies in the international commitments undertaken by the Government concerned, including the Millennium Development Goals and obligations under human rights treaties. Such goals imply a long time horizon.

Specific objectives (such as those defined in UNDAF outcomes) can be thought of as the behaviour change in the duty-bearer to respect, protect and fulfil a right or rights, and in the rights-holder to exercise and demand a right or rights. The CCA role/pattern analysis (defining who should do what) should inform the kind of behaviour change needed, aided by national legislation, plans and policies, and relevant recommendations of the treaty bodies. Specific objectives (or UNDAF outcomes) imply a medium time horizon

Finally, country programme outcomes should be geared towards the institutional, legal or policy changes necessary for desired behaviour change. The CCA capacity gap analysis—informed by relevant recommendations of the treaty bodies—should indicate the capacities necessary for duty-bearers to respond to claims, and for rights-holders (especially the most disadvantaged) to demand and advocate the exercise of their rights. Country programme outcomes are defined for a short time horizon.

Example:  Human rights-based situation analysis in CCA: Serbia and Montenegro

The conceptual framework for this CCA provides for a human rights-based definition of vulnerability and poverty, particularly the way gender inequality contributes to women’s poverty.

Role/obligation analysis: Rights-holders, particularly vulnerable groups (e.g., elderly, one- or two-member households in rural areas, Roma children, refugees and others), were identified along with duty-bearers (not only State authorities at different levels, but also private companies and aid donors) with roles to play in addressing identified root causes of development problems.

Efforts were made to disaggregate data as far as possible, by sex, age, ethnic group, region and other status (such as internally displaced people and refugees) so as not to treat the poor, vulnerable or marginalized as if they were one homogeneous group. For instance, the differentiated impact of problems on Roma children is highlighted in relation to education (pp. 38-39).International, regional and national human rights standards were relied on to some extent in defining the scope of these claims and obligations, for example in the subsections dealing with issues affecting children and women.

“Capacity gap” analysis: Serious attention was given to the capacities of rights-holders to access information, organize, advocate policy change and obtain redress. In this connection the assessment rightly recognized the role of civil society organizations (e.g., p. 51) and reviewed their capacities (p. 73). The assessment suggests solutions to the problems of data gaps and weaknesses of statistical methods, recognizing statistical capacity as an indispensable tool to monitor the progressive realization of economic and social rights, as well as being necessary for deeper gender analysis. The assessment appropriately recommends that the Government should use the reporting process to treaty bodies as an important opportunity to review its legislation, institutions and practice. Its chapter on governance and the rule of law is also firmly based on human rights principles and obligations, analysing not only the crucial role of the judiciary, but also that of other independent institutions such as the ombudsman.


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