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Work on development from a human
rights perspective
Strategies and tools
Eitan Felner
Why a human rights approach to development? #1
Challenges of human rights + development:
so closely entwined that neither can be tackled
effectively without addressing the other
Problems of development: the gravest human rights concerns
“Poverty and inequities between and within countries are now
the gravest human rights concerns that we face”
Louise Arbor, then UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights
Human Rights violations – a key reasons for persistent poverty
and deprivation
•Corrupt governments that steal public
Instead of
•Spending on ‘white elephant projects’
that squanders state resources
Inequalities in education and health
among ethnic groups
Overall insufficient resources for social
Due to
Due to
Addressing basic needs
of the poor
Discriminatory policies in
public spending
Capture of state by
economic elite
Why a human rights approach to development? #2
Intrinsic Value
• Provides a universally shared legal
framework for development
• Articulates an ultimate goal for all
development activities
Brings about a change of
People: from the objects of
development to the subjects of
Deprivations in development (lack
of access to education, health,
clean water, food, etc): From
inevitable tragedy intolerable
Instrumental Value
• Reinforces focus on inequalities and
• Enables to ascribe responsabilities (to •
various duty-bearers)
• Provides voice and empowers
excluded or vulnerable groups
• Helps strengthen democratic
institutions of the state
Poverty Reduction: From charity to
an obligation
Economic growth and human rights
• Economic growth: instrumental for the realization of
human rights.
• However, economic growth must be achieved in a
manner consistent with human rights principles.
• Need of policies and institutions consciously designed to
convert resources into rights
Tool #1 - Integrating a human rights-based
approach into National Development Plans
What is a Human rights based approach to
development (HRBA)?
Human Rights Obligations and Standards
Human Rights Principles
Integrating a HRBA in all phases of National
Development Plan
Proposes corrective measures to incorporate the rights approach in content of NDP
and its process of its formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
Identification and analysis
of development problems
Monitoring and
Evaluation of
Setting development goals,
policies and resource
of NDP
Integrating a human rights-based approach
into National Development Plans
The case of Ecuador
Realization of human rights – the goal of
National Development
Constitution of
Ecuador 2008
Art. 3
It is the primary duty
of the State to
guarantee the exercise
of rights without
Art. 85
Public policies will be
aimed at the
realization of all rights
Art. 275
The State will plan the
development of the
country for the
fulfillment of rights
Critical analysis of application of human rights principles in all
phases of National Development Plan
To what extent the mechanisms set up by gov’t for participation in the formulation
of the PND were sufficiently inclusive, enabled informed participation and the inputs
from citizens were adequately taken into account in what actually was incorporated
into the Plan?
Workshops for citizen participation in formulation of NDP
- Were participants of the workshop given a draft of the NDP or list of objectives for
comments or suggestions related to each of the objectives?
- Did workshops had an opportunity to comment on the objectives and goals of the
- Could workshop participants prioritize the proposals made​​?
- Were there mechanisms to give citizenship opportunities to comment on the PND
out of the workshops?
- Is there a publicly available document that summarizes which of the various
proposals made at the workshops were actually incorporated into the NPD?
Critical analysis of application of human rights principles in all
phases of National Development Plan
Annual reports of the President to Parliament (Asamble
Nacional) about the implementation of the NDP don’t include
detailed data on the extent that each goal of the Plan is being
fulfilled (comparing the base-line, the current level and the value
established by the NDP)
The Parliament did not to implement a norm established in the
2008 Constitution that orders to set up a special commission of
the Parliament to analyze the annual report
During the presentation of the annual reports about the NDP,
there is no opportunity for an interactive discussion between the
President and the members of Parliament on its results
Some recommendations to integrate a HRBA into
Ecuador’s next National Development Plan
Setting development goals in NDP
Goals of PND reflect in concrete and quantifiable form the commitments
that a government undertakes vis-a-vis the objetives and policies for the
development of the country
• Take into account human rights commitments and recommendations by
human rights mechanisms in selection of goals and determining their
value targets
• Reduce the number of goals in the NDP to reflect more clearly a limited
set of prioritized government actions (in order to strengthen transparency
and accountability of the government vis-à-vis its development priorities)
• Incorporate disaggregated goals in the NDP to help focus development
efforts on most excluded people and contribute to tackle inequalities in
the enjoyment of rights
Implementation Phase – Budgetary matters
Monitor equity in budget allocation, (e.g. what is the distribution of spending
within specific sectors between provinces, ethnic groups, etc.)
Institutionalize mechanisms that allow the use of extra budgetary spending only
under strict conditions to strengthen participation, transparency and accountability
Provides recommendations to strengthen the role of the NDP as a guiding instrument
of Public Policy
Equality and non-discrimination
Include in NDP affirmative action policies vis-à-vis traditionally excluded groups in
order to ensure substantive equality in the enjoyment of rights
Set together with representatives of indigenous peoples development policies and
strategies that have an impact on their individual and collective rights
Address persistent patterns of gender discrimination (e.g. unequal pay for similar
Provide incentives (e.g. higher salaries) to encourage experienced service provides
(e.g. teachers and doctors) to work in remote areas of the country
Adapt employment generation strategies to economic, social and cultural
characteristics of each region in the country
Establish Equality Councils responsible for incorporating equality concerns in public
Tool #2 – Human Rights Impact Assessments
HRIAs – a new human rights tool
Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) - an instrument for examining
policies, legislation, programs and projects to identify and measure their
effects on human rights.
Growing demand has emerged for various actors to undertake HRIAs before
adopting and implementing policies.
Potential contribution of HRIAs
• guide policy making,
• foster public participation in the formulation and monitoring of
development policies
• strengthen accountability about these policies
• help to empower rights-holders by making it easier to demonstrate the
cause-effect relationships between policies, projects and human rights
HRIAs and other types of impact assessments
HRIAs grew out of other types of impact assessments: environmental impact
assessments (EIAs) and social impact assessments (SIAs
HRIAs are based on normative framework of international human rights law
This framework lends moral and legal legitimacy to the
whole exercise:
human rights have become the dominant language for social justice claims in
many parts of he world.
Level of detail and specificity in which human rights issues are addressed and in the
manner in which they are covered (equality, participation transparency and
HRIA methodologies
HRIAs: an evidence-based exercise, which aims to contribute to a more
informed policy-making process.
effectiveness of HRIAs largely depends on the robustness of the
methods used and the quality of the evidence gathered by those
HRIAs are often complimentary to other types of IAs and are often conducted
on their heels.
whenever possible, human rights assessors build on the research
conducted by these other assessments and other studies, while
employing a different perspective to interpret the impacts foreseen in
light of human rights standards.
Potential contribution of HRIAs
Potential contribution of HRIAs