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AFRO-NETS> Food for Kofi's thoughts
- Subject: AFRO-NETS> Food for Kofi's thoughts
- From: Claudio Schuftan <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 10:47:56 -0400 (EDT)
Food for Kofi's thoughts
Human Rights Based Planning: The New Approach
[Here's what you need to know about it in a nutshell]
The Secretary General of the United Nations has mandated that, start-
ing this year, all agencies of the UN have to switch to designing and
executing HUMAN RIGHTS BASED PLANS OF ACTION. Beyond this new man-
date, little explanations were given of what exactly this entails.
UNICEF has taken a lead in defining in a bit more detail what Human
Rights Based Planning means and entails. Here is the explanation of
what this new concept is all about:
All action in development projects/programs has to be based on a
solid situation analysis. The latter has to be based on an Assessment
and an Analysis of the existing situation leading to decisions being
made for Action: a triple A (AAA) process. The assessment and analy-
sis cannot be done without having a Conceptual Framework of the
causes of the problems that we are trying to solve. This means that
we have to have a conceptual understanding of how the problem comes
about -- what its determinants are-- before we can decide what the
best options are to do something about it. In other words, "You find
what you look for" (based on a conceptual framework).
In our case as health/nutrition practitioners, - the OUTCOME in the
conceptual framework is malnutrition and excess ill-health. - the
IMMEDIATE CAUSES are inadequate food intake and high prevalence of
preventable diseases. - the UNDERLYING CAUSES are household food and
fuel insecurity, inadequate maternal and child care, low water and
sanitation levels and inadequate access to (or utilization of) health
care services, particularly by the poor. - the BASIC CAUSES are lim-
ited access to education (particularly for girls) and insufficient
community control (power) over the resources they need to solve their
problem(s) at each causal level (i.e. human, financial/material and
The essence of a good situation analysis is to carry out a CAUSAL
ANALYSIS based on a pre-existing conceptual framework and basing all
decisions for action being made on this analysis; appropriate inter-
ventions for the main causes at each causal level have to be found.
Addressing each cause is necessary but not sufficient to change the
outcome (ill-health and malnutrition). Communities need to act at all
levels of determinants at the same time. This is why so many "selec-
tive interventions" have failed in the past.
So much for what we were expected to be doing up to now to solve our
deep-rooted health and nutrition problems. Now comes the human rights
based approach to planning. The essence of this approach is to addi-
tionally carry out what is called a CAPACITY ANALYSIS.
What is a capacity analysis? To analyze any human rights situation it
is essential to identify two main groups of actors: Claim Holders and
Duty Bearers. Claim holders are the groups whose universally recog-
nized entitlements are or are not being provided for and whose rights
are thus being upheld or violated. Duty bearers are those individuals
or institutions that are supposed to uphold each specific right re-
lated to each entitlement. For example, in the case of a child (the
claim holder), the first-line duty bearer is the mother; next are the
father and other family members. But there also are duty bearers for
children's rights further up the ladder: community leaders, district
and provincial authorities, national and international institutions.
The end result of a good causal/situation analysis is a list of lo-
cally specific immediate, underlying and basic causes that determine
the problems at hand. The participatory AAA process that identifies
those respective causes then also comes up with the possible solu-
tions for each cause identified. This is the point where capacity
analysis kicks in. Capacity analysis identifies what needs to be done
for each determinant identified starting by looking at what is al-
ready being done or not being done. It then looks at Who should be
doing it [individual and/or institution(s) who is (are) the corre-
sponding duty bearer(s)] and attaches the name of that (those) per-
son(s) or institution(s) that have to be targeted to get the proposed
solution(s) for each cause identified implemented.
The end result of a good capacity analysis is a four or five columns
table: - the first column has the causes listed from immediate to ba-
sic; - the second column lists the respective right(s) being violated
for which group of claim holders for each cause; - the third column
has the gap between what is being done and what still needs to be
done (i.e. the actions needed); - the fourth column identifies the
respective duty bearer(s) by name (individuals and/or institutions
responsible, often at more than one level); - a fifth column may be
added to specify who is going to approach that duty bearer and by
This table thus becomes an action plan to foster the respect of the
various human rights deemed to be violated for each specific group of
What this new human rights approach to planning does is to couple
causal and capacity analysis. At first glance, this may not mean much
to readers being introduced to this new concept. But it is a powerful
combination. It not only identifies what needs to be done, but it
targets the person or institution that has to be lobbied/pressured,
BECAUSE THEY ARE LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE to do something about it under
the covenants of international human rights officially signed and
ratified by almost all countries in the world.
The human rights approach gives us advocates new powers. When appro-
priate, we now approach duty bearers as guilty of not performing what
they are legally (and not only ethically) supposed to do. The human
rights covenants currently in force are very explicit about this. We
just have not sufficiently used this added power in our work so far.
Duty bearers have to be approached using the human rights violation
justification, and have to be made accountable to comply! "Lack of
resources" is not a good enough justification by duty bearers not to
uphold the rights being violated. They have to convincingly demon-
strate to us that resources available (even if meager) are not being
used for other less essential functions.
If we all do follow this new approach, we may set a growing precedent
that will further the cause of those claim holders whose basic human
rights are being violated worldwide.
Issues are a bit more intricate than here reflected, but this is a
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