Introducing some of the practical aspects of working with a rights-based approach, with an example from Save the Children.
Rights–based programming is less about fixed rules and more about an evolving set of practices that not only develop with experience but that also have to be modified to suit different contexts. Seasoned practitioners and commentators stress that “one size does not fit all”.
Nevertheless, there are some generally agreed principles of how to go about rights–based programming. The UN document, Towards a Common Understanding, provides a useful indication of the essential ingredients of doing rights–based programming. Apart from employing good programming practices that you might expect to find in any kind of development activity, the following are recommended as “necessary, specific, and unique to a human rights-based approach”:
Identify the human rights claims of rights-holders and the corresponding human rights obligations of duty-bearers, as well as the causes for non- realisation of rights.
Assess the capacity of rights-holders to claim their rights, and of duty- bearers to fulfil their obligations; develop strategies to build these capacities.
Monitor and evaluate both outcomes and processes guided by human rights standards and principles.
Ensure programming is informed by the recommendations of international human rights bodies and mechanisms.
In this way, rights based approaches are not just a means to an end, but the process of applying them constitutes the realisation of a person’s right as well.
On a more practical note, here is an example of how rights-based programming has been applied by Save the Children. The example is oriented to work with children. However, the programming cycle, with some modification, can be applied in many different circumstances. Other manuals will take you through broadly similar steps.
You can download the full document here: Child Rights Programming: How to Apply Rights-Based Approaches in Programming or browse the relevant pages covering The Programme Cycle
It should of course be remembered that agencies use different approaches, and even within a single organisation, different programmes may use different strategies (see Different approaches to rights-based programming). Furthermore, all rights-based organisations are on a steep learning curve.
Practitioners are therefore encouraged to be flexible, experiment, assess impact and learn from experience and others. And finally, it’s important that basic good quality programming skills (see Questions and Answers) are not neglected as a result of rights-based programming.
There are many primers and training manuals in circulation. Although many are organisation and/or sector specific, they can be adapted to specific needs. Some of the most useful are listed on the guide pages on training. Here are four to start with.
Previous Publication (general) items
- 01/01/1900: Basic Rules of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols
- 01/01/1900: Child Protection Legal Standards
- 01/01/1900: Child Soldiers Field Guide
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Child Rights International Network
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Last updated 16/12/2004 11:45:11