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Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming - UNFPA -. SESSION 3: Key Elements of a HRBA. Session Overview. Definition of a HRBA Definition and practical application of key human rights principles and human rights standards

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session overview
Session Overview
  • Definition of a HRBA
  • Definition and practical application of key human rights principles and human rights standards
  • Discussion of HRBA benefits, challenges, myths/misconceptions, and limitations
  • Overview of UN programming cycle
  • Walk through a HRBA to
    • situation assessment and analysis
    • programme planning and design
    • implementation
    • monitoring and evaluation
what is a human rights based approach
What is a Human Rights-Based Approach?
  • Conscious and systematic integration of human rights and human rights principles in all aspects of programming work
a hrba
  • Emphasizes processes and outcomes
  • Draws attention to marginalized populations
  • Works towards equitable service delivery
  • Extends and deepens participation
  • Ensures local ownership of development processes
  • Strengthens accountability of all actors

The UN Common Understanding on the HRBA


  • All programmes of development cooperation, policies and technical assistance should further the realization of human rights as laid down in the UDHR and other international human rights instruments.
  • Human rights standards and principles guide all development cooperation and programming in all sectors and phases of the programming process.
  • Development cooperation contributes to the development of the capacities of ‘duty-bearers’ to meet their obligations and/or of ‘rights-holders’ to claim their rights.



Action 2 slide


All programmes of development cooperation should further the realization of human rights as laid down in the UDHR and other international human rights instruments.


  • The realization of human rights is the ultimate goal of all development programmes
  • HRBA influences the identification of UN strategic priorities
  • Programming is informed by the recommendations of international HR bodies and mechanisms

Action 2 Slide


ProgrammingInformed by Human Rights Mechanisms

TBs & SPs observations:

  • Analysis of development issues from a HR lens

TBs & SPs recommendations:

  • Are tools for UN programming to address problems identified

TBs general comments:

  • Identifies the precise content of development objectives by clarifying the meaning of rights.

Action 2 Slide



2.Human rights standards and principles guide all development cooperation and programming in all sectors and in all phases of the programming process.

  • HR standards and principles improve the quality of outcomes and processes
  • HR standards delineate the ‘playing field’ in which development takes place
  • HR principles provide the ‘playing rules’ for the development process

Action 2 Slide


…The integration of human rights principles and standards into all stages of the programming process…







Action 2 Slide



The minimum normative content of the right: The type of claims and obligations that the right implies at the minimum in practice

In programming, the standards guide the:

  • identification of development challenges as human rights issues (assessment)
  • analysis of roles and capacities of rights-holders and duty-bearers
  • definition of development objectives
  • formulation of corresponding benchmarks and indicators

Action 2 Slide

example of human rights standards the 3aq
Example of Human Rights Standards…the 3AQ
  • ICESCR General Comment 14 − minimum core obligations of the right to health:
    • ensuring that health facilities, goods, and services are available, accessible, acceptable and of high quality
    • ensuring reproductive, maternal (pre-natal as well as post-natal) and child health care
    • providing education and information on health problems and the methods of prevention and control
    • ensuring the ‘underlying determinants of health’ are met, e.g., access to clean water, food and shelter
the 3aq is important for unfpa s work
The 3AQ is important for UNFPA’s work…
  • Under the right to health, international human rights standards indicate that States are obliged to ensure that public health services, as well as medicines and health care staff:
    • are made available to all
    • are acceptable to all
    • are accessible to all
    • are high quality, where the skills of the health personnel, the medicines available and the equipment used should be of a consistent standard for all
human rights principles
Human Rights Principles
  • Universality and inalienability
  • Indivisibility
  • Interdependence and Interrelatedness
  • Equality and non-discrimination
  • Participation and inclusion
  • Accountability and Rule of Law
principles of universality and inalienability
Principles of Universality and Inalienability

Implications for national HR protection systems

Public policies and programmes should have:

  • disaggregated data to identify difficult cases of exclusion and marginalization
  • specific strategies in response to this caseload, e.g., polio vaccination campaigns

HR principle of universality requires:

That no one is left out or excluded from human rights

Action 2 Slide

principle of indivisibility
Principle of Indivisibility
  • Indivisibility: One right cannot, ultimately, be separated from all other rights.
  • What this means:
    • Are all rights being promoted equally? For example, are civil and political rights being promoted to the detriment of economic, social and cultural rights?
principles of interdependence and interrelatedness
Principles of Interdependence and Interrelatedness

Implications for national protection systems

Legal frameworks:

  • Should not privilege the protection of certain rights to the detriment of others

Public policies should:

  • Be based on holistic analysis of development problems and provide integral and multisectoral responses

State institutions:

  • Ensure inter-institutional and multisectoral coordination
  • Include those institutions in charge of protection, monitoring and accountability

HR principles of interdependence and interrelatedness require:

Equal recognition and protection of rights

Action 2 Slide

principles of equality and non discrimination
Principles of Equality and Non-discrimination

Equality and Non-discrimination obliges states to:

Eradicate legal, institutional, interpersonal and structural discrimination

Implications for national protection systems:

Legal frameworks should:

  • Derogate discriminatory legislation
  • Be conducive to the enjoyment of human rights by all

Public institutions should ensure:

  • Representation of marginalized or excluded groups in the public administration and in decision-making bodies
  • Public services accessible and sensitive to gender, age and cultural differences
  • Appropriate judicial and administrative redress mechanisms

Public policies should:

  • Challenge models of appropriation and concentration of resources leading to structural discrimination and exclusion
  • Take affirmative steps to reduce social and economic disparities
  • Promote education and public awareness

Action 2 Slide

principle of participation
Principle of Participation

HR principles of participation require:

Free, active, meaningful and inclusive participation

Implications for national protection systems

Policies, processes and procedures should provide:

  • Opportunities for participation in planning and development
  • Access to relevant information
  • Capacities to marginalized groups to formulate proposals

Institutional mechanisms should:

  • Be based on democratic principles
  • Not disempower existing democratic or traditional structures

Civil society should:

  • Be active, independent and with capacities
  • Represent the voice of marginalized and excluded groups
  • Have control over decision-making processes

Action 2 Slide

principle of accountability
Principle of Accountability

Principle of accountability requires:

States and other duty-bearers to be answerable for the observance of human rights

Implications for human rights protection systems

State institutions should:

  • Be provided with sufficient resources, responsibilities and independent authority to effectively monitor the government, e.g., independent human rights parliamentary bodies, national human rights institutions, judges, courts and legal counsel

State to cooperate with international human rights systems:

  • Complying in a timely manner with international reporting obligations
  • Inviting special procedures and providing information
  • Implementing the TB and SP recommendations

Action 2 Slide



3. Development cooperation contributes to the development of the capacities of ‘duty-bearers’ to meet their obligations and/or of ‘rights-holders’ to claim their rights.

  • Focus on relation of individuals-State (claims-obligations)
  • Shifting development from service delivery as primary focus to building capacity to claim and fulfil human rights
  • States require capacity to strengthen national protection systems and comply with their obligations

Action 2 Slide

rights holders and duty bearers

6,652,595,567 persons

Every individual, either a man, woman or child, of any race, ethnic group or social condition

To some extent groups


Much fewer in number

Primarily States

In some cases individuals have specific obligations

Individuals and private entities have generic responsibilities towards the community to respect the rights of others

Rights-holders and Duty-bearers

Action 2 Slide


Why a HRBA to Development?

Intrinsic value

  • Based on universal values
  • Universal legal standards for a life with dignity

Instrumental to development strategies

  • Addresses power inequalities and discrimination
  • Deals with weaknesses in accountability systems
  • Objective framework to manage conflicts and seek redress

Institutional reasons (UN comparative advantage)

  • Impartiality to deal with sensitive issues
  • Holistic analysis and integral responses to problems

Action 2 Slide

challenges common to a hrba
Challenges Common to a HRBA
  • Time-intensive
  • Working with many participants

What other challenges to HRBA have you come across in your work?

myths misconceptions
  • Human rights are western and alien to many cultures….Why is this a myth?
  • A HRBA is too difficult….Why is this misleading?
  • A HRBA is off-putting to more traditional governments….How can we work around this?
  • A HRBA overemphasizes rights and neglects responsibilities….Why is this untrue?
limitations of a hrba
Limitations of a HRBA
  • Lack of solid evidence to prove effectiveness
  • Difficulty in measuring, with respect to the principles of:
    • universality
    • inalienability
    • indivisibility
    • interdependence
    • interrelatedness
the hrba in un programming
The HRBA in UN Programming





Analysis of



CP outcomes

UNDAF outcomes



Establishes causal

connections of rights

Identifies patterns of


inequality and


Identifies the capacity

gaps of rights-holders

and duty-bearers


rights-holders and



contribute to the

realization of

human rights


capacity of





mechanisms for

participation of

rights-holders &

duty bearers

in the monitoring

of the programme

Action 2 slide


Remember….A HRBA means integrating human rights principles and standards into all stages of the programming process…







Action 2 Slide

hrba to information gathering
HRBA to Information Gathering

What information:

  • Civil, cultural, economic, political and social context
  • Disaggregated according to normative grounds of non-discrimination, such as sex, age, ethnicity, rural and urban, etc.

Sources of information:

  • Rely on national information, assessments and analyses
  • Variety of sources, including information from International, regional and national human rights mechanisms

Information and analysis process:

  • Participatory, inclusive, accountable and sensitive to cultures

Action 2 slide

what information
What information…?
  • Information on legal and policy environment:
    • treaties ratified (international, regional)
    • domestic laws and policies
    • concluding comments, SP reports, CSO reports, ombudsmen documents, case law, etc.
  • Information on social, economic, cultural environment:
    • budget analyses
    • cultural and religious traditions and beliefs
  • Information on the 3AQ
the hrba to assessment
The HRBA to Assessment
  • The situation assessment involves checking that the quality of the information collected is adequate for the analysis that will be carried out. Pay attention to:
    • ensuring proper disaggregation
    • ensuring your information sources include the situation and views of disadvantaged and marginalized groups
    • ensuring the reproductive health and rights of the most excluded populations are included in the assessment
  • Remember—the purpose of assessment is to identify main HR and development challenges
formulating the development challenge
Formulating the Development Challenge
  • After the situation assessment has been carried out, make sure that you:
    • formulate your development challenge as a human rights issue
    • ensure it is people-focused
hrba to analysis causal analysis

Analysis of immediate, underlying and structural causes of development challenges identified


  • Problem tree analysis detects root causes of human rights problems(vertically)and the interrelatedness of rights

(horizontally and vertically)

  • Additional optional tools for in-depth legal, policy,

institutional and budget analysis

HRBA to Analysis: Causal Analysis

The problem tree was not born as a HRBA tool, but it can help identify main patterns of discrimination, exclusion and other root causes of problems

Action 2 slide

the problem tree
The Problem Tree

The problem tree is a tool for building consensus and participation, as it allows rights-holders and duty-bearers to agree on the main development challenges and root causes



Action 2 slide


Immediate Causes

Underlying Causes

Root Causes

Core Problem Area:

Gender Discrimination

Problem 1: HIV/AIDS

Problem 2: Girls’ Education

Action 2 slide

hrba to analysis role pattern analysis
HRBA to Analysis: Role Pattern Analysis
  • Rights-holders
    • who are they?
    • what are their claims?
  • Duty-bearers
    • who are they?
    • what are their duties?
hrba to analysis capacity gap analysis

HRBA to Analysis:Capacity Gap Analysis

Capacity development is not only a technocratic process. It also entails political, societal, legal and institutional change

Capacity gaps:

  • Knowledge
  • Responsibility/motivation/leadership
  • Authority
  • Access to and control over resources
  • Gaps in NHRPS

Treaty bodies and special procedures can identify capacity gaps

Action 2 slide

selecting areas of cooperation strategic analysis
Selecting Areas of Cooperation -Strategic Analysis

Analyze UN comparative advantages in:

► Direct service delivery ►Advocacy and social mobilization

► Information and awareness ►Training and education

► Monitoring and observation ►Policy and legal advice

Partnership analysis:

HRBA broadens the spectrum of partners, including those belonging to National HR Protection Systems

HRBA promotes a

practice shift from

direct service delivery

to capacity development

Action 2 slide

using icpd agenda to set priorities
Using ICPD Agenda to Set Priorities
  • UNFPA’s strength lies in highlighting the importance of priorities within the ICPD agenda, such as
    • advancing universal access to reproductive health
    • empowering women
    • increasing access to HIV prevention, etc…
hrba to results based programme planning

HRBA to Results-Based Programme Planning

Treaty bodies and special procedures can identify specific actions for capacity development

Action 2 slide

example a hrba to hiv prevention among young people
Example: A HRBA to HIV Prevention Among Young People
  • Inputs: sufficient resources to reach the most at risk youth (e.g. out-of-school youth)
  • Outputs: e.g. developing training manuals for counsellors; manuals for outreach workers; training medical providers/counsellors; training peer educators, etc…
  • Outcome: increased accessibility, acceptability, and quality of SRH services for most at-risk youth
  • Impact: decreased new cases of HIV (or other STIs) within at-risk youth
at the planning design stage remember
At the Planning & Design Stage, Remember…
  • To consider and integrate the human rights principles and the elements of the 3AQ.
  • Wondering how to do this? Take a look at the questions on your checklist.
hrba to implementation
HRBA to Implementation
  • Applying a HRBA in the programme implementation phase means, once again, ensuring that human rights principles and standards are consistently being respected throughout the programming cycle.
  • Turn to your checklist of questions to see what you should be asking at this stage of the programme.
hrba to implementation equality non discrimination
HRBA to Implementation: Equality & Non-discrimination
  • During implementation, priority must be given to the most marginalized groups.
  • Remember that even within marginalized groups, some may have more power than others. It is important to continuously assess whether inequalities exist at the implementation stage.
hrba to implementation participation
HRBA to Implementation: Participation
  • How are disadvantaged groups meaningfully participating in the implementation of the programme?
  • What kind of capacity development needs to happen first to ensure that these groups can meaningfully participate?
hrba to implementation accountability
HRBA to Implementation:Accountability
  • How are you establishing clear roles and responsibilities in the implementation of your programme?
  • How are you sharing information with the public?
  • What complaint mechanisms are in place for individuals affected by the programme?
  • Remember that a HRBA requires:
    • consistent and systematic integration of key human rights principles and standards into all stages of a programme
    • focus on rights, not needs
    • focus on process and outcomes
    • attention to marginalized groups
    • attention to culture and gender