How do human rights help with situation analysis?

Human rights analysis gives an insight into the distribution of power. By identifying groups lacking effective rights—and groups who may be denying rights to others—it can highlight the root causes of poverty and vulnerability. As such, a rights approach provides a way of examining the operation of institutions and political and social processes that influence the livelihoods of the poor and the most vulnerable.

Consistent with the United Nations Development Group’s guidelines for CCA and UNDAF, human rights standards reinforce situation analysis at three levels:

  • Causality analysis: drawing attention to root causes of development problems and systemic patterns of discrimination;
  • Role/obligation analysis: helping to define who owes what obligations to whom, especially with regard to the root causes identified; and
  • Identifying the interventions needed to build rights-holders’ capacities and improve duty-bearers’ performance.

Critically, a human rights-based approach seeks to deepen understanding of the relationships between rights-holders and duty-bearers in order to help bridge the gaps between them.

A human rights-based analysis may reveal capacity gaps in legislationinstitutionspolicies and voice. Legislative capacities may need to be strengthened to bring national laws into compliance with treaty obligations. Institutional reforms may be needed to improve governance, strengthen capacities for budget analysis and provide people with effective remedies when human rights are violated. Policy reforms may be needed to combat discrimination, and ensure consistency between macroeconomic and social policies, scaling up public expenditure towards the Millennium Development Goals. Recommendations of the human rights treaty bodies can provide relevant and authoritative guidance on the nature and extent of many of these obligations.

Development agencies may need to move beyond their traditional sectors or “silos” in the quest for strategies to reach the most disadvantaged groups and in order to work more deeply and collaboratively on the root causes of problems affecting all sectors.

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