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close this bookRealizing Human Rights for Poor People - Strategies for achieving the international development targets (DFID, 2000, 34 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe international development targets
View the documentDepartment for International Development
View the documentForeword by the Secretary of State
View the documentExecutive summary
View the document1. Objective and strategic aims
Open this folder and view contents2. The challenge: integrating human rights into development
Open this folder and view contents3. Experience to date
View the document4. Meeting the challenge
Open this folder and view contents5. Priorities for DFID
View the document6. Measuring progress against the objectives
View the documentAnnex : Global and regional indicators of development progress for the international development targets

4. Meeting the challenge

4.1 On the basis of the lessons learnt, this section identifies the collective effort required to ensure that development enables poor people to be active citizens with rights, expectations and responsibilities. At the local level, it means empowerment of the poor to ensure greater participation in decision-making processes and increased capacity to claim their rights. At the national level, it requires reform of legal frameworks, policies and service delivery to ensure the realisation of human rights and to respond to the needs, interests and rights of all. Internationally, there must be a commitment to making a reality of the human rights framework, with a particular focus on the rights of poor and excluded people. The remainder of this section broadly identifies the roles and responsibilities of the key actors at international, national and local level in order to meet this challenge.

4.2 International co-ordination in integrating human rights into development requires both a shared analysis and a common commitment to shifting from rhetoric to sustained practice. Coordination at this level means cooperation between multilateral organisations as well as with international civil society and with the international world of business. The human rights strategy proposed in this document-based on participation, inclusion and fulfilling obligations-provides a basis for building coordinated action through the World Bank's Comprehensive Development Framework, poverty reduction strategies and other mechanisms such as sector-wide approaches.

4.3 The institutions of the UN created and support the international framework of human rights conventions and agreements. UN organisations by themselves, however, are not capable of ensuring that standards are translated into practice at national and local level. The key UN organisations involved in the promotion and monitoring of human rights are the OHCHR, which provides technical support for Treaty Monitoring Bodies and is charged with mainstreaming human rights within the UN, and the ILO, which promotes and monitors international labour standards. The extent to which strengthening these two institutions will increase the capacity of the UN to effectively promote the implementation and realisation of the rights of poor people remains to be seen.

4.4 A rights-based approach to development has not, as yet, been adopted by all the organisations of the UN. Some parts of the UN family, however, have developed innovative rights-based approaches to their programmes. These include UNIFEM and UNICEF, working on the implementation of CEDAW and the CRC. Strengthening these organisations may have a direct impact on the rights of disadvantaged people as well as influencing other UN and donor organisations through example and good practice.

4.5 The policies and programmes of the international financial institutions play a vital role in the realisation of the rights of poor people. Efforts to persuade these organisations to adopt a rights-based approach to development are time-consuming. Nonetheless, the potential long- term impact of such work is great enough to merit continued attention.

4.6 The private sector is a critical player in a coordinated response to the challenge. Developing countries must have access to world markets in order to achieve sustainable growth while implementing domestic policies to ensure that poor people more fully enjoy their human rights. Restricting trade access for countries with poor labour standards would make a bad situation worse by marginalising poor countries and locking them out of the benefits of the globalising world economy. Trade sanctions against countries where, for example, child labour is prevalent, are likely to force children into more exploitative forms of employment and is unlikely to have any effect on the huge majority of child labourers who work in the non-traded sector.

4.7 Consumer pressure, both in the developed and increasingly in the poorer countries of the world, can be a very powerful lever for change. Adoption of voluntary codes is by no means universal, but media exposure and consumer pressure for rapid action on improving human rights impacts is having an increasing effect. There is a role for regional and international agreements on good codes of conduct such as SA8000 and acceptable international standards of social auditing in areas such as clothing or shoe manufacture. The large international business organisations such as the International Chamber of Commerce and the Commonwealth Business Council, should play a leading part in establishing good practice.

4.8 Governments, accountable to their citizens through the democratic process, must be in the lead in establishing a country's approach to integrating human rights into development. The principles established in the human rights treaties need to be translated into national level agreements about levels and standards of provision and benchmarks for measuring progress. Priorities may have to be established and choices made. Attempts to assess governments in terms of their human rights record have tended to be limited to consideration of civil and political rights. These are, of course, very important but need to be balanced by a consideration of whether a government has a positive record on action to support social and economic rights.

4.9 There are clear cases, however, where the action of the government precludes international co-operation or direct assistance. In Nigeria, under the Abacha regime, violations of human rights meant that DFID, like many other development agencies, was not prepared to directly support the national government. In order to promote the rights of poor people, however, we worked at community level with local government authorities and community based organisations to increase the participation of excluded people in decision-making processes and strengthen their access to services and resources.

4.10 States are not homogeneous entities and it may be more beneficial to work in different ways with ministries for particular purposes. In China, DFID has initiated work with the Ministry of Health in order to combat HIV Direct interventions in this area have an impact on the right to health of minorities and disadvantaged people, who form a large percentage of the population infected by HIV At the same time, DFID works indirectly, through general support to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as a means of influencing the Chinese government to take on board international standards for reproductive health and rights.

4.11. At the other end of the scale, governments which have adopted a rights-based approach are to be congratulated. South Africa's commitment to a rights-based approach to development provides a valuable pool of experience from which all governments can learn.

4.12 In many countries, the private sector is paying increasing attention to its duties to the community as well as its own workforce. A growing number of businesses adhere to standards of social and ethical responsibility, but many others are still lagging behind. Governments must create an enabling environment to strengthen the movement towards socially responsible businesses.

4.13 Local level organisations will need to develop innovative ways of promoting human rights which may serve to influence programmes and policies at both national and international levels. Civil society at national and local levels must work to promote the rights and needs of excluded people. National level organisations, which work to promote human rights, may not always represent the rights of the disadvantaged. Such organisations may focus exclusively on civil and political rights and fail to address the needs, rights and perceptions of poor people. Organisations may be exclusive in their approach and practices. Those which represent women, for example, sometimes overlook the rights of poor, disabled or ethnic minority women. Technical assistance can help to ensure that these organisations develop broad based approaches to human rights and develop inclusive approaches to their work.

4.14 Those elements of civil society working for poor people's human rights are making progress in encouraging international organisations to respond to the rights and needs of the disadvantaged. Civil society looks to the international community to encourage the voices of the poor to be heard in multilateral institutions and meetings. We need to support both those working for the realisation of the human rights of particular groups, such as women, children and those with disabilities, and those focusing on a particular bundle of rights, such as the core labour standards or housing rights. Support is important for those international and regional associations concerned to promote in more general terms a rights-based approach to development. Such organisations require (a) real links back to the grass roots, and (b) independently verified signs of the networking improving the lives of poor people.