Cover Image
close this bookRealizing Human Rights for Poor People - Strategies for achieving the international development targets (DFID, 2000, 34 p.)
close this folder5. Priorities for DFID
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentApproaches
View the documentKey actions


5.2 In the UK Government's 1997 White Paper on International Development, DFID set out its clear commitment to human rights. DFID, along with other organisations, has been learning how to translate a commitment to human rights into practical action. We initially developed our expertise and understanding through project work in conjunction with partners from civil society as well as national and multilateral organisations. We have been able to build on past experience with social analysis, which has helped us work with partners in understanding the structural causes of poverty, discrimination and exclusion. We have also developed participatory methodologies for the assessment of local level understandings of poverty. This work has proved invaluable in shaping our understanding of poverty and formulating appropriate policy responses. However, we have much less experience and expertise in the political and legal aspects of the human rights agenda and we are only now beginning to develop this.

5.3 Building on our own experience, and that of our partners, we will integrate human rights into development work at all levels. Working towards the realisation of human rights for poor people is about how we do things, as well as our objectives. It requires a shift in our approach to focus on the empowerment of people living in poverty. A rights approach means that development organisations should work in ways that strengthen the accountability of governments to people living in poverty. It also means that development agencies should be subject to the same standards of transparency as governments.

5.4 A rights perspective means promoting social justice and recognising that inequality matters. But a rights approach does not prescribe easy answers to difficult questions about priorities. The human rights framework sets out the core responsibilities that all governments have towards their citizens, some of which are measured by the International Development Targets. A rights perspective emphasises that, in developing policies to meet these responsibilities, the rights of poor people should not be sacrificed to aggregate gain. A rights approach to development focuses on the participation of poor people and attention to their rights, views and interests. Our commitment to a rights approach to development means that we shall give priority to linking poor people's perspectives with national and international policy processes.

5.5 The remainder of this section describes the key actions we propose to take to support poor people's greater participation, inclusion and the fulfillment of obligations. Some of these actions are not new to DFID. Others require more systematic effort to turn policies into practice. There are also some areas where we need to adopt new objectives and ways of working. In all cases, DFID will work to promote a co-ordinated response among governments, development agencies and civil society. The key channels for building this response include the World Bank's Comprehensive Development Framework, the UN's Development Assistance Framework, the poverty reduction strategies promoted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and sector-wide approaches.