How do human rights standards relate to the development programming process?

Human rights standards as reflected in the international treaties, as well as principles such as participation, nondiscrimination and accountability, should guide all stages of programming.

Human rights treaty standards are binding upon countries that have ratified them and help to define the objectives of development programmes. For example, the objectives of a food security programme can be reformulated explicitly to realize the right to adequate food under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Guided by human rights standards, governance programmes can more explicitly help to realize rights to liberty and security of person, and human rights concerned with political participation and the administration of justice under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to birth registration (Convention on the Rights of the Child, art. 7) is an important focus of UNICEF programming in certain regions, given the importance of that right for the enjoyment of all others. The right to privacy (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 17) can be instrumental in fighting the discrimination and stigmatization at the heart of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Human rights standards strengthen and deepen situation analysis. They also set certain conditions for implementing and monitoring the progress of development programmes. The general comments of the human rights treaty bodies, as well as their country-specific recommendations, can provide more detailed guidance on what the international human rights standards mean in all phases of programming.

Human rights standards as a guide to justice sector programmes of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Recognizing that democracy and human rights help create appropriate conditions for development, IDB justice sector work has begun to take international human rights standards explicitly into account. Human rights standards are brought into the picture most specifically in the following areas:
(1) providing an entry point into controversial issues such as judicial independence;

(2) providing a justification as well as a normative framework for civil justice projects dealing with indigenous peoples’ rights;

(3) defining project content in criminal justice reform, including guidelines for fair trials, juvenile justice work and so forth;

(4) defining indicators for monitoring project performance; and

(5) helping IDB to identify conditions in which it should withhold support for programmes in sensitive areas, for example in police and prison reform. Human rights institutions such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights play an increasingly important role as implementing partners. Human rights organizations and NGOs also play an important watchdog function to minimize the occurrence of human rights violations in IDB-supported projects.


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