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[afro-nets] Food for a binding thought (2)
- From: Claudio Schuftan <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 16:27:27 +0700
Food for a binding thought (2)
Human Rights Reader 133
IF A STATE HAS RATIFIED A TREATY, IT IS LEGALLY BOUND TO IMPLE-
MENT IT: A REITERATION. Part 2 of 2
[A quick reminder: The elements of the human rights-based ap-
proach to development (HRBA) are: an assessment and analysis of
the immediate, underlying and basic causes of violations of the
pertinent rights; the identification of human rights (HR) claims
of rights holders and the corresponding obligations of duty
bearers; an assessment of the capacity of rights holders to
claim and of duty bearers to fulfill their obligations; and the
drafting and execution of a plan based on this analysis].
10. The HRBA is not dependent on statistics; any infringement of
HR is a violation, irrespective of the number of people af-
fected, i.e., each HR violation stands on its own and should be
taken seriously. In short, quantity does not decide whether or
not HR are violated. (Note that "Violation" is a strong word
that some of the more pro-status-quo conservatives prefer to
11. But be aware that the right to health, for instance, does
not mean that people have the right to be healthy (or the right
to food does not mean the government has the obligation to feed
all people). It is the conditions for access to health and to
adequate nutrition that have to be created, assured and sus-
tained. In practice, this means governments cannot be blamed for
each and every individual health problem --but for some, they
sure can, and redressal can be demanded.
12. On the other hand, a lack of duty bearers' capacity and re-
sources (to respect, protect and fulfill HR) in itself is no
justification for bad or non-existent HR policies; the govern-
ment can take many measures that do not require extensive re-
sources. Lack of resources is sometimes the result of lack of
priority, when governments spend large amounts on budgetary
items other than those related to health, nutrition or other so-
cial services. In such cases, governments can and have to expand
their capacity by seeking international assistance.
13. In short, factors limiting government capacity are important
to take into account, but they should not be used as an excuse.
14. It is often argued that crisis situations make it more dif-
ficult to implement any policy (HR policies included). However,
it may not be used as an excuse to remain inactive on burning
issues pertaining to people's rights.
15. Indicators of political-will-towards-HR to watch for are,
for example, a high-level capable official being made responsi-
ble for the implementation of one or more key HR policy(ies), or
when government statements consistently refer to (a) HR prob-
lem(s) and propose solutions.
16. As much as governments are directly responsible for the
measures they take or do not take to ensure HR, to a certain ex-
tent, they are also responsible for actions of other actors such
as private providers or enterprises.
What does the above imply, then, for our work as HR activists?
17. Emphasize not what the government should do, but what you
can and will do to make the government do what it ought to do.
18. Summarize the information and the facts gathered to present
linking them to the formulation of concrete demands; suggest
policy improvements; develop a plan (your plan) that makes sure
the government takes action.
19. Depending on who needs to be convinced use more legal or
more technical (e.g., medical) or political arguments. Decide
whether being more accommodating or more confronting keeping as
the central aim to gently push or more vigorously press the gov-
ernment into action. When the government just makes promises of
future action, remember that the long run famously never ar-
20. In sum, our challenge is to build a HR culture in the face
of the long-established 'charity-inspired, top-down system'. The
aim is to transform rights holders into active claim seekers and
to strengthen and empower local grassroots organizations, as
well as to help duty bearers to comply. We want the HRBAP to be
more than just another concept in an insincere concept-
21. How will we know we are there? Government services become
rights-based when the services that beneficiaries are entitled-
to are clearly defined and provided, and when participatory
mechanisms to review government decisions and to provide effec-
tive remedies exist should someone be unjustly denied equal ac-
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Mostly adapted from Health Rights of Women Assessment Instrument
(HerWAI), HOM, Utrecht, January 2006, and SCN News, No. 31, Late