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[afro-nets] Food for a new tactical thought


  • From: "Claudio Schuftan" <cschuftan@phmovement.org>
  • Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 08:17:46 +0700

Human Rights Reader 222

*EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT, IN DEVELOPMENT WORK, WE NOW HAVE TO CHANGE OUR TACTICS: WE WILL NO LONGER ASK FOR POLITICAL WILL OR COMMITMENT, BUT INSTEAD, WILL PUSH GOVERNMENTS ON THEIR LEGAL OBLIGATION.*

Injustice is a social disease that needs to be combated with the force of an epidemic.

We have no other world except this one; it is difficult to imagine improving it without changing it. (CETIM)

1. The need to push duty bearers on their legal obligations is neither new nor only true for national leaders; efforts are being made for this to also become standard practice for donors.

2. Why the latter? Because we firmly believe that, if human rights (HR) are not being taken into account by the several new aid modalities under *discussion these days, these modalities should simply be sidelined.**

*: Caveat: At present, economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) do not enjoy robust protective mechanisms under international law. [But this is widely recognized as a travesty of the spirit and the letter of the respective Covenant].

3. The above caveat notwithstanding, where donors are not supporting HR or are undertaking policies or programs that are harmful in this respect, it behooves them to take the measures to redress this situation (or for us to force them to).

4. We *can and will* hold them to account on many grounds. Among them:
• Donors must recognize that they have binding international HR responsibilities of international assistance and cooperation.
• *Donors must proactively engage with the overseas recipients of their aid to encourage them to respect, protect and fulfill HR (…pushing governments on their legal obligations!)*
• Donors must make the realization of HR a key objective of their development cooperation.
• Donors that have ratified international HR treaties (the latter with the exception mainly of the US) have to align their current aid with the HR-based Framework.
• Donors must also respect, protect and fulfill HR: in international development conferences they participate in; in the executive boards of the WB, the IMF and the WTO they are members-of, as well as in their agreements with NGO and government partners (e.g., in free trade agreements).
• Donors must be responsive to the needs of the different groups they want to support and must be aware of how decisions are made and priorities set, including whether genuine grassroots participatory processes have been adopted.
• Donors must guarantee participation of the affected populations.
• Donors must, as a priority, support the HR of so-far excluded or discriminated groups.
• Donors are not only accountable to their own voters, but also to claim holders in developing countries affected by their development cooperation. (Here is where the power-balance-considerations blocking fair and equitable solutions must kick-in).
• Donors must promote and assure non-discrimination, and must not attach conditions that undermine a developing country’s ability to guarantee HR.
• Donors must disaggregate the data they collect in HR-sensitive ways.
• Donors must provide HR learning opportunities to their staff, to their partners and to their beneficiaries.

5. In all the above, we note that the HR Framework actually transforms the bilateral relation between donor and partner into a triangular relation at the center of which the direct recipients of aid projects play an active role as claim holders while *the donor and government partners are bearers of obligations.* (O. de Schutter)

6. Coming back to legal obligations, as we have said many times before in this Reader, together with civil society, governments must design a national strategy for the progressive realization of HR and then must take the necessary measures to carry out the strategy.

7. What we here add is that such strategies cannot be detached from what is happening in the outside world. For instance, the realization of the human right to health and the human right to nutrition can be effective only if there is a decrease in the dependence on (unfair) international trade in goods and services (GATS). (O. de Schutter)

8. So, it is only by aligning our own tactics with those coming from current or would-be claim holders that lasting changes will come… And, let’s celebrate: The groups fighting for such changes are indeed many more and much more active these days. (CETIM)

Mostly adapted from J. Bueno de Mezquita and P. Hunt

Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City
mailto:cschuftan@phmovement.org