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  • may 2007 CEDAW and the Human Rights Based Approach to Programming A UNIFEM guide<#>
  • CEDAWUNIFEM is the women’s fund at the United Nations. It provides financialand technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategiesto foster women’s empowerment and gender equality. Placing theadvancement of women’s human rights at the centre of all of its efforts, and theUNIFEM focuses its activities on four strategic areas: • Reducing feminized poverty; • Ending violence against women; •  eversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls; R •  chieving gender equality in democratic governance in times A of peace as well as war. Human Rights Based Approach to ProgrammingWritten by Lee Waldorf, with research by Christine Arab and Menaka GuruswamyCopy Editor: Angela StephensDesigner: Kathi RotaPhoto Editor: Sue AckermanPrinter: Kay PrintingPhoto Credits: Front cover, clockwise from upper left corner: Indigo-dyed cloth fromNigeria; cotton blanket from Guatemala; silk-embroidered mirror cloth from Morocco;silk brocade woven cloth from Indonesia; tambour-work cloth from Uzbekistan;Chanhan quilt from Pakistan. Back cover: tapa cloth from Fiji. All photos by JamesAustin except Indonesian fabric by Barry Dawson. From “World Textiles: A VisualGuide to Traditional Techniques” by John Gillow and Bryan Sentance, except Nigerianfabric from “African Textiles” by John Gillow, both titles published by Thames &Hudson Ltd, London and New York. ii
  • Index 1 Introduction 2 Section 1 Gender Equality as a Human Right  16 Section 2 UNIFEM and the HRBA 26 Section 3 Applying the HRBA Principles 38 Section 4  he HRBA and Results-Based T Management 50 Section 5 Women’s Human Rights In-Depth 78 Section 6 Programming Resource Materialsiii iv
  • IntroductionPromoting universal respect for human rights has considerations into programme support. Thebeen one of the fundamental goals of the United principle that development cooperation shouldNations since its creation, and the development of further the realization of human rights has nowa comprehensive international human rights gained wide acceptance.normative and standard-setting system within the At the current stage of the HRBA’s evolution, theUnited Nations was one of the great achievements UN is tackling the challenge of fully translating thisof the 20th century. A more recent development, commitment into concrete, operational program-and one with great potential for further enhancing ming terms. What does the HRBA really mean forthe impact of these human rights standards on the programming priorities, design, implementation,ground, is the adoption of the human rights-based monitoring and evaluation? And—to be even moreapproach (HRBA) to programming by United concrete—what does the HRBA tell us about theNations agencies, funds and programmes. expectations that people themselves shouldEspecially over the past decade, the UN system’s rightly have of the UN’s programming support?commitment to the HRBA intensified. Following The United Nations Development Fund for Womenthe lead of innovators such as UNICEF, many other has worked for gender equality and women’sagencies, funds and programmes, such as WHO, empowerment for over 30 years, and since theUNFPA, UNDP, and UNIFEM have paid increasing 1990s the organization has placed a particularattention to human rights. Of particular note is the emphasis on supporting implementation of theadoption in 2003 of the UN Inter-Agency Common Convention on the Elimination of All Forms ofUnderstanding on the human rights-based ap- Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Thisproach to programming, and the roll-out of Action guide consolidates insights and experiencesII of the Secretary-General’s reform programme. gained by UNIFEM to date, to assist staff in furtherThese two initiatives are making a substantial deepening the HRBA within programming. It’s acontribution to clarifying and focusing a UN sys- contribution we share with partners in our com-tem-wide approach to integrating human rights mon effort to advance women’s human rights.  1
  • SECTION 1 Gender Equality as a Human Right2 3 
  • “Women have a right to gender equality.” It’s a simple •  onvention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman Cand true statement, but its implications for how devel- or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) 1984opment assistance should be conducted are many and • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989far-reaching. Before we begin addressing the nuts andbolts of the HRBA (Section 2), it is worth taking some • Convention on the Protection of the Rights oftime to explore just what it means, and why it matters, All Migrant Workers and Members of Theirto approach gender equality as a human right. Families (CMW) 1990 Two new conventions—on the rights of persons What are International Human Rights? affected by disabilities, and on protection from enforcedThe international human rights system is a creation of disappearance—were adopted by the Generalthe 20th century. The impetus to institute a global order Assembly in 2006. These conventions are waiting toto protect human rights came from the same source as receive the number of ratifications from Member Statesthe impetus to create the United Nations itself. In that will allow them to come into force.response to the devastation and inhumanity inflicted by The work to codify human rights into international lawWorld War II, there was consensus that rules and took many decades, and drew on the collective effortsstandards should be established which would, in the of governments, non-governmental organizations,future, uphold human dignity and protect all people from lawyers and academics from around the world, as wellsuch harm. The first step was the UN General as the United Nations bodies. The result is that we nowAssembly’s adoption, in 1948, of the Universal have a comprehensive normative and legal frameworkDeclaration of Human Rights (UDHR). for human rights, which clearly identifies the content ofA treaty system was then introduced, allowing any these rights and the steps that should be taken toMember State of the United Nations to undertake realize them. This framework has achieved globallegal obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the most endorsement. The number of UN Member States thatimportant human rights. In 1966, the first two treaties, are parties to the treaties has grown continuously. Bythe International Covenant on Civil and Political 2007 all States had ratified at least one of the treaties,Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on and 80% had ratified four or more. The two mostEconomic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), were broadly endorsed human rights treaties—CEDAW andopened for ratification. The other core human rights the CRC—have each been ratified by more than 90%treaties followed: of the UN membership. • Conventionon the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) 1965 Gender Equality within the Human Rights Framework • Conventionon the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 1979 The human rights obligation to eliminate sex-based discrimination against women in order to achieve 
  • gender equality has been at the centre of international gender equality are set down in detail, and the broadhuman rights from the beginning. The UDHR, ICCPR, range of actions that must be taken to achieve genderICESCR, and other core treaties contain clear state- equality are mapped out. It is also in CEDAW that thements on women’s right to be free from discrimination. international human rights system’s understanding ofThe centrality of this concern was made abundantly the nature and meaning of sex-based discriminationclear by the adoption of CEDAW. The core international and gender equality is most clearly articulated.human rights standards, taken together, provide apowerful normative framework for advancing genderequality. CEDAW’s Approach to Achieving Gender EqualityIn 1993, the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights CEDAW is an “anti-discrimination” treaty, meaning thattook the centrality of women’s rights to the international in CEDAW gender inequalities are understood to havehuman rights regime as one of its primary concerns. As been produced by sex-based discrimination. The Statestated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of obligations imposed by CEDAW are primarily obliga-Action, and reaffirmed many times since, including in tions to eliminate the many different forms ofthe Beijing Platform: gender-based discrimination women face. CEDAW in •  he human rights of women and of the girl-child are T that sense embodies both a theory of women’s subor- an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of univer- dination, and a strategy for overcoming this sal human rights. subordination. •  he full and equal participation of women in politi- T CEDAW is also informed by a particular understanding cal, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at the of what counts as equality, often called “substantive national, regional and international levels, and the equality” or “equality of results.” CEDAW takes a very eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds concrete and three-dimensional view of equality. Rather of sex are priority objectives of the international than considering equality in formal and legalistic terms, community. and saying that laws and policies ensure equality •  he human rights of women should form an integral T between women and men simply by being gender- part of the United Nations human rights activities, neutral, CEDAW requires that their actual impact and including the promotion of all human rights instru- effect also be considered. Under CEDAW, the State has ments relating to women. to do more than just make sure there are no existing laws that directly discriminate against women. It must What are Women’s also make sure that all of the necessary arrangements Human Rights under CEDAW? are put in place that will allow women to actually experience equality in their lives.Provisions protecting women’s human rights exist in allof the core international human rights treaties. But it is in Finally, CEDAW makes States responsible not just forCEDAW that the specifics of women’s human right to their own actions, but also for eliminating discrimination 
  • that is being perpetrated by private individuals and Article 13: economic and social lifeorganizations. CEDAW recognizes that discrimination is Article 14: rural womenoften most deeply rooted in spheres of life such asculture, the family, and interpersonal relations, and that Article 15: equality before the lawif change does not take place at those levels, efforts to Article 16: equality in marriage and family lifeachieve gender equality will be frustrated. ✦The Articles of CEDAW Articles 17-22: he CEDAW Committee and the report- tThe articles of CEDAW fall into three main groups. The ing processfirst set of articles explains the nature and scope of theState’s obligations. The second set of articles targets Articles 23-30:  atification, reservations and other rspecific forms of discrimination and outlines measures procedural mattersthat the State must undertake to eliminate discrimina-tion in each of these areas. The last set of articles How is CEDAW Monitored?governs procedural and administrative matters, such asthe composition of the CEDAW Committee and the way The CEDAW Committeein which the reporting process operates. Like all of the core international human rights treaties, CEDAW is overseen by a treaty body. The CommitteeArticle 1: definition of discrimination against women on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is a group of 23 gender equality experts. They are electedArticles 2-5: he full range of measures the State must t by the States parties to CEDAW, but once elected they take to eliminate discrimination and serve in an independent capacity, not as representa- achieve gender equality tives of their countries. The Committee membership is ✦ regionally representative, and at present has members from Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Croatia, Cuba,Article 6: trafficking and the exploitation of prostitution Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,Article 7: public and political life Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, SouthArticle 8: international affairs Africa, and Thailand. The Committee members bring aArticle 9: nationality broad range of relevant expertise to bear, drawing from their careers as gender equality experts in law, aca-Article 10: education demia, the private sector, government, andArticle 11: employment non-governmental organizations.Article 12: health care The Committee is responsible for reviewing each State 
  • party’s progress, as well as the challenges they are ment delegation, including the heads of women’sexperiencing in implementing the Convention. After machineries and other key officials such as thosereviewing progress and challenges, the Committee responsible for foreign affairs and the administration ofissues its concluding comments, which provide justice, to engage in a dialogue with the Committeespecific guidance on how this performance could be members. When the Committee is considering theimproved in national context. The Committee is also reports, it will also draw on information provided by UNresponsible for developing jurisprudence, a body of agencies and women’s NGOs from the reportinglegal interpretation, primarily through the issuing of countries. There are specific meeting times set asideGeneral Recommendations (GRs) and decisions under during the sessions for the Committee to hold discus-CEDAW’s Optional Protocol. This jurisprudence helps sions with the UN agencies, and with the women’sclarify how the Convention applies to specific situations NGOs. Women’s NGOs can also submit alternativeand emerging issues. reports on their countries’ progress—often called “shadow reports” —to the Committee.In the past, all of the other treaty bodies met in Genevaand received secretariat support from the Office of the The Committee places great value on hearing fromHigh Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), but the women themselves about the situation in their coun-CEDAW Committee met in New York, and the Division tries. UNIFEM has for many years supported women’sfor the Advancement of Women (DAW) served as its NGOs to attend the CEDAW sessions and presentsecretariat. Beginning in 2008, CEDAW will meet in shadow reports through the “Global to Local”Geneva and will be supported by the OHCHR. programme. The programme is run by the International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific,The CEDAW Reporting Process an NGO based in Malaysia, and while initially supported only by UNIFEM, it is now also receiving support fromStates that are parties to CEDAW must submit regular UNFPA. Over the past decade, more than 80% ofreports to the CEDAW Committee. These reports the women’s NGOs from around the world that havecontain detailed information about legislative, judicial, attended the CEDAW sessions were sponsored byadministrative and other measures that have been the Global to Local programme.undertaken to implement CEDAW, as well as aboutobstacles that have been encountered. The reports When the CEDAW session is completed, the Committeeneed to provide a fairly comprehensive mapping of issues its concluding comments on each State party’sprogress in achieving gender equality, and States will report. They note successful steps that have been takenoften call on DAW, the OHCHR and other UN organiza- to achieve gender equality, then identify the most criticaltions for assistance when drafting them. measures that need to be taken in the future to imple- ment the Convention. The concluding comments areThe reports are reviewed during the CEDAW very important resources for gender equality work. First,Committee’s sessions, which are held several times a they provide authoritative guidance about what CEDAWyear in New York. The reporting State sends a govern- requires in specific national contexts: through the10 11
  • concluding comments, the fairly general language of the values, which allows us to have meaningful andConvention is given more concrete, real-life meaning. productive discussions across our differences aboutSecond, the concluding comments are valuable how people should be treated.advocacy tools for use by gender equality advocates to One of the central principles human rights law haspress for needed changes at the national level. established is that all human beings, women included,For more information about CEDAW, and links to are equal and should not be subjected to discrimina-helpful resources, see Section 9 “Women’s Human tion. Once gender equality is understood as a humanRights In-Depth.” right it needs no additional justification, and the legiti- macy of work to advance gender equality does not Summing Up: Gender Equality depend on proving its usefulness for other purposes, as a Human Right such as those of development, or economic growth.Not everyone who works to advance gender equality 2. It provides the definitive certainty of law. International approaches it as a human right. For example, it can be human rights standards are not “law” in the sametreated exclusively as a development concern. From sense as, for example, a nation’s criminal code isthat view, gender equality has importance because of law—their enforcement is a more complex matter. Butits instrumental value in furthering development— one of the common characteristics of both interna-because a country’s development objectives cannot be tional human rights law and national law is thatreached unless the situations of both men and women obligations—what must be done, what must not beare significantly improved, attention must be paid to the done, and who has responsibility for these actions—challenges women face. are very clearly defined. By becoming a party to CEDAW, for example, a State undertakes to imple-What is gained by understanding gender equality as ment a long series of specific measures to advancea human right? As outlined above, the human rights gender equality. The content of these obligations isframework has a number of distinctive contributions not open to alteration by individual governments orto make: organizations. 1. t provides the highest level of normative authority. I 3.  t the same time, it responds to country realities and A Human rights are the only values on which there is emerging issues. A universal set of detailed gender global consensus. Political and economic regimes equality requirements could actually be an obstacle and cultural and religious traditions vary widely rather than an asset for gender equality work, if it was around the world, and questions about which system too abstract or rigid. The challenges women face vary is right and which system is wrong are unanswer- so much from country to country, and even within a able. But common elements from all of these sources country they can change significantly over time. were brought together in the development of the Fortunately, the international human rights system is international human rights framework. There is now a designed to be responsive and flexible. shared agreement, at least at the level of human12 13
  • Country-specific perspectives are, for example,built into CEDAW in multiple ways: the text of theConvention was drafted and negotiated by peoplefrom all parts of the world; the CEDAW Committee’smembership is regionally balanced; and in addition tothe government’s own regular reports, the Committeeconsiders the views expressed by women’s groups inthe country, and information available from UN organi-zations working there. All of these combine to makeCEDAW’s concluding comments quite a useful sourceof guidance about what the current priorities for genderequality work should be in individual country contexts.Through the concluding comments, the GeneralRecommendations, and decisions under CEDAW’sOptional Protocol, the Committee takes the opportunityto explore how the Convention should apply to newissues that weren’t in the minds of CEDAW’s drafters,such as HIV/AIDS, for example, or economicglobalization.For UNIFEM, one of the main advantages of the humanrights-based approach is that it helps us to strengthenour programming by making systematic use of thebenefits that come from gender equality’s status as ahuman right. The sections that follow explore the waysin which UNIFEM has already implemented the HRBA inour programmes, and ways in which this approach canbe deepened.14 15
  • SECTION 2 UNIFEM and the HRBA16 16 17 17
  • The United Nations and the Human the UNCTs will be rolled out by Action II in 2007, and Rights-Based Approach these trainings take their guidance on the HRBA fromThe HRBA is by no means a new programming approach the UN Common Understanding.for the UN system. For many years, UN agencies, The UN Common Understanding on the HRBA is aprogrammes and funds have, each in their own way, short document that sets out three main points ofbeen exploring and developing human rights-based agreement about the HRBA, then provides basicapproaches to their programming. A number of UN explanations of each of these points.organizations were particularly engaged with humanrights because they saw a very direct link to their indi- UN Commonvidual mandates (such as UNICEF’s with the Conventionon the Rights of the Child, and UNIFEM’s with CEDAW).In 1997, interest in implementing the HRBA increased Understandingsignificantly, as the Secretary-General called on all UNorganizations to mainstream human rights into their workin the context of the UN programme for reform.What is relatively new is the UN system’s adoption of astandard approach to the HRBA. In 2003, at theStamford Inter-Agency Workshop on a Human Rights- 1  ll programmes of development cooperation, ABased Approach, a “Common Understanding” of the policies and technical assistance shouldHRBA was negotiated for the UN system as a whole. further the realization of human rights as laidThe UN Common Understanding was then endorsed by down in the Universal Declaration of Humanthe UN Development Group (UNDG), and incorporated Rights and other international human rightsinto the Common Country Assessment/UN instruments.Development Assistance Framework (CCA/UNDAF) 2  uman rights standards contained in, HGuidelines. In the second stage of the Secretary- and principles derived from, the UniversalGeneral’s UN reforms, an initiative called Action II was Declaration of Human Rights and other interna-created. Action II is a global programme to strengthen tional instruments guide all developmentthe UN’s support for the promotion and protection of cooperation and programming in all sectorshuman rights, led by a core task force composed of and in all phases of the programming process.OHCHR, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNDG andOCHA. It is focused on strengthening the human rights- 3  evelopment cooperation contributes to Drelated programming capacities of UN country teams the development of the capacities of “duty-(UNCTs), so that they can support Member States to bearers” to meet their obligations and/or ofrealize human rights in line with the Millennium “rights-holders” to claim their rights.Development Goals (MDGs). Human rights trainings for18 19
  • UNIFEM’s 2004-7 Multi-Year Funding human rights—they must identify and support the actual Framework and the HRBA changes on the ground that will further the realization of rights.The Common Understanding’s three points of agree-ment are framed in fairly general and abstract terms, This first point of agreement in the Commonand the concrete implications really only become clear Understanding also underlines that work to further theonce they’re interpreted in light of an organization’s realization of human rights is not something that shouldmandate. What does the Common Understanding be treated as its own discrete sector. In the past, manyactually imply for UNIFEM’s work? This section will UN organizations, including UNIFEM, have located theirhighlight some of the key implications. In Section 3, the human rights work only in specific programmes, or as aCommon Understanding’s human rights principles will discrete organizational goal. To implement the HRBA,be explored in greater depth, and in connection with our however, programming in all sectors must be designedown programming experiences. to realize rights. How was the first point of the Common Understanding1.  ll programming should further the A reflected in UNIFEM’s 2004-7 Multi-Year Funding realization of human rights Framework (MYFF)? Rather than having a separate goalThere is virtually no aspect of development cooperation on women’s human rights, achieving gender equality isthat doesn’t make at least some contribution to the an overarching goal of all programming. The absence ofrealization of human rights. For example, anything done a specific MYFF goal on human rights does not meanto improve access to water may help realize the right to that there can’t be any human rights programmes, andhealth, and anything done to improve access to educa- we are indeed currently implementing many of thesetion can help realize the right to education. In the earlier programmes. What the framework implies is that therestages of the UN system’s use of the rights-based should not be programmes in any of our MYFF goalapproach, there was a tendency to simply repackage areas—reducing feminized poverty, ending violenceexisting programming and programming approaches by against women, halting and reversing the spread of HIV/inserting human rights language into documents. But AIDS, and achieving gender equality in democraticthe HRBA should not be treated as an exercise in rights governance—that are not designed to help realize therhetoric. relevant human rights for women.The Common Understanding commits UN organizations There are rights under CEDAW directly corresponding toto engaging with human rights in a more systematic, each of our MYFF goal areas. In the chart that follows,deliberate and purposeful way. The Common some of the key rights under CEDAW are identified, asUnderstanding notes that programming activities which well as General Recommendations of the CEDAW“incidentally” contribute to rights realization don’t qualify Committee that provide additional guidance on theas implementing the HRBA. Rather, programmes must State’s obligations in these consciously designed with the intention of realizing20 21
  • 2. uman rights standards and principles HMYFF Goal CEDAW should guide all aspectsof programming As discussed in Section 1, the human rights standardsGoal 1: Article 11: employment in treaties such as CEDAW are a source of quiteReduce feminized Article 13: economic and  detailed guidance on the measures that need to bepoverty and social life taken to realize women’s human rights. The Commonexclusion Article 14: rural women Understanding’s second point of agreement is GR 13: equal remuneration underlining that programming should make very GR 16: unpaid women workers conscious use of this guidance. In order to implement the HRBA properly, programming should be informed by knowledge of the specific human rights standardsGoal 2: Article 6: rafficking and t that apply, and of the measures that should be taken toEnd violence prostitution further them. This information is found in the articles ofagainst women Article 5: customary and  the human rights treaties, in their Committee’s General other practices Recommendations, and in the Committee’s application Article 16: marriage and  of the standards to country situations in their family relations concluding comments. GR 19: violence against women Some of the uses that should be made of human rights standards are highlighted in the UNIFEM MYFF. ForGoal 3: Article 12: healthcare example, ensuring that “legislation and policies areHalt and reverse GR 15: HIV/AIDS formulated and implemented to promote and protectthe spread of GR 24 : health women’s human rights” is the MYFF’s first outcomeHIV/AIDS among level result. Among the indicators accompanying thiswomen and girls outcome are the removal of discriminatory provisions from legislation and policies, the incorporation of gender equality provisions into national constitutions, and the reflection of gender equality commitments in povertyGoal 4: Article 2: constitutional and  reduction strategies. However, human rights standardsAchieve gender other legal reform are more than a tool for legislative review and reform. Asequality in Article 7: public and political life the second point of the Common Understandingdemocratic GR 23: public and political life stresses, they provide guidance that applies to allgovernance in GR 25: emporary special t programming areas—i.e. they are just as useful whentimes of peace measures supporting women’s political participation, or improvedand in recovery services relating to violence against women.from war22 23
  • The most helpful first step for ensuring that a pro- governments and people. Once human rights obliga-gramme will further the realization of women’s human tions have been undertaken (through the ratification ofrights is to incorporate a careful review of the applica- treaties such as CEDAW), governments are responsibletion of human rights standards into the situation for their implementation so that people can fully enjoyanalysis. If you begin with an accurate picture of what their rights. And people are entitled to claim theseCEDAW actually entitles women to in your programme rights, demanding that governments make good oncontext, and what measures the government is obli- their obligations.gated to implement under CEDAW in that context, your You’ll notice that this relationship is not one in which theability to set objectives, outcomes and activities that will UN figures prominently. In earlier models of develop-be most effective for realizing the right is greatly in- ment that were not based on rights, it may have beencreased. acceptable for UN organizations to understand theirInvestment at this initial level of analysis will benefit the work as directly providing for the needs of people inprogramme throughout its lifetime. Some of UNIFEM’s developing countries. The HRBA is certainly not alarger programmes, such as the land rights programme service delivery model for programming. Rather, it’s ain the CIS sub-region, or Asia Pacific’s migration pro- capacity-building model. According to the HRBA’sgramme, were able to invest the resources needed to capacity-building model, the UN has a more supportingconduct very comprehensive human rights analysis at role, of facilitating the conditions necessary in a countrythe programme design stage. These studies continued for rights to be realized. The primary actors, the agentsto be drawn on throughout the programmes’ implemen- of change, are always the rights-holders and duty-tation periods. The land rights analysis, for example, bearers.assisted in the drafting of legislative amendments in In the MYFF outcome areas, UNIFEM has identifiedseveral countries to better secure women’s land owner- three levels at which our programming supports capac-ship. The migration rights analysis supported advocacy ity development for both duty-bearers andfor the creation of a standard contract for migrant rights-holders:domestic workers in Jordan, has been used in universitycurricula in Southeast Asia, and was provided to sup- •  t the macro level, support is provided for improve- Aport the drafting of the CEDAW Committee’s General ments to legislative and policy frameworksRecommendation on migration. •  t the meso level, we are concerned with support- A ing gender responsiveness in mainstream3.  rogramming should support develop- P institutions and enhanced ability of gender equality ment of the capacities of duty-bearers advocates to influence policy agendas to meet their obligations, and of rights- holders to claim their rights •  t the micro level, support is provided for eliminat- A ing discriminatory attitudes and stereotypesThe third point of agreement is underlining that humanrights are essentially about a relationship between24 25
  • section 3 Applying the HRBA Principles26 26 27 27
  •  possesses rights cannot voluntarily give them up, and Human rights standards contained in, others cannot take them away. and principles derived from, the Universal Women are one of the groups of people whose Declaration of Human Rights and other very entitlement to their human rights is most often international instruments guide all challenged or ignored. There are situations in which development cooperation and program- their rights can often be treated as irrelevant—as, for ming in all sectors and in all phases of example, where governments consider internal family the programming process. relations as private, and beyond the law’s reach. Even within human rights and development work itself, theThe second point of agreement in the UN Common reality that half of the people concerned are women,Understanding says that human rights standards and with specific rights of their own that must be respected,principles should guide programming. The human rights has often been overlooked. As Radhikastandards can be found in the treaties, but what are the Coomaraswamy, the former Special Rapporteurhuman rights principles? The Common Understanding on violence against women has observed, womenprovides a list: frequently face a culture of impunity, and the failure of the rule of law, where their human rights are concerned. • Universality and inalienability How has UNIFEM responded to this fundamental • Indivisibility challenge under the MYFF? Considerable programme • Interdependence and interrelatedness support has been devoted to ensuring that the so-called “private realm” is not a zone where women’s rights are • Equality and non-discrimination violated. The famous slogan “Women’s Rights are • Participation and inclusion Human Rights” was first associated with campaigns to ensure that women received protection from gender- • Accountability and the rule of law based violence, and UNIFEM sub-regional offices haveSome of the most important programming requirements supported groundbreaking work in this area. Thesefor implementing the HRBA are contained in these programmes have, for example, led to the adoption of ahuman rights principles. Their implications for UNIFEM’s country’s first domestic violence laws, and the criminal-work are discussed below. ization of rape within marriage for the first time.Universality and Inalienability IndivisibilityThe first article of the Universal Declaration of Human The principle of indivisibility reminds us not to proceedRights states: “All human beings are born free and as if there was a hierarchy among human rights, withequal in dignity and rights.” All people everywhere in the some being more important or more critical than are entitled to human rights—the person who All human rights have equal status. The need for such a28 29
  • principle became apparent during the cold war stage When the HRBA advises us to programme with a veryof the human rights system’s evolution, when one bloc clear idea in mind of the right to be furthered, this is notpressed for priority attention to civil and political rights, a call to develop tunnel vision around that right; quiteand the other insisted on the precedence of economic, the opposite. The actual realization of a right can be asocial and cultural rights. The equal status of civil and complex and long-term matter—most rights cannot bepolitical rights and economic, social and cultural rights realized within the scope and time frame of an individualis now widely accepted in the human rights world. But project or programme. In order to programme in a waythe principle of indivisibility still has relevance, especially that effectively serves to advance a human right youas a reminder of the importance of attending to the don’t have to adopt unrealistically bold objectives. Whatrights of groups subjected to discrimination and disad- is needed is attention to the possibility that other rightsvantage, under treaties such as CEDAW, CERD and the must also be realized, and awareness of the variousCRC. stages that must be reached before a right can be realized. With this picture in mind, the real contributionWhile it is not acceptable to give one set of human the programme can make—as connected with efforts ofrights priority over another, it has been recognized that other actors, and work that must follow after the com-some rights may necessarily take more time to be pletion of the programme—can be identified.realized than others. Some of the social, economicand cultural rights, for example, may take more time These principles again underline the importance ofto realize than some of the civil and political rights, strong situation analysis. Rights realization always takesbecause they require a greater investment of resources, time, but it will take less time if the full set of challengesor the accomplishment of more substantial structural involved is understood from the outset.changes. Where a State cannot realistically be expected For example, it’s better to support the drafting of ato achieve a right immediately, its obligation is under- new law already knowing that chronic gender-basedstood to be “progressive,” and can be satisfied discrimination in budgetary processes is hamperingby genuine efforts producing incremental progress to the implementation of existing laws, and to factor thisrights realization. It should be noted, though, that the challenge into programme design, than to discoverobligation to not discriminate—against women or any such an obstacle after programme completion.other group—is not progressive, it is always immediate. Equality and Non-DiscriminationInterdependence and Interrelatedness As the UN Common Understanding explains theseThe realization of one right will often very much depend principles: “All individuals are equal as human beingson the realization of other rights as well. The principles and by virtue of the inherent dignity of each person. Allof interdependence and interrelatedness remind us of human beings are entitled to their human rights withoutthe importance of a comprehensive and holistic pro- discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex,gramming vision. ethnicity, age, language, religion, political or other30 31
  • opinion, national or social origin, disability, property, and one of the core human rights treaties is exclusivelybirth or other status as explained by the human rights concerned with gender-based discrimination. While thistreaty bodies.” is certainly a good thing, it creates a potential blind spot for people who are programming on gender. It would beEquality and non-discrimination are two sides of the easy, and comfortable, to assume that the HRBAsame coin. People are entitled to equality. Inequality is principles of equality and non-discrimination are not aunderstood in the human rights framework as the concern for programmes that directly address genderproduct of discrimination. People are therefore also inequality. The UN Common Understanding is a remind-entitled to the elimination of discrimination—in whatever er that we need to be alert to the multiple forms ofform it takes, sexual, racial, religious, or on other discrimination women may face. A variety of UNIFEMgrounds—as a means to achieve equality. programmes—including those focusing on migrantIt should be noted that there is no closed, permanent women workers, women living with HIV/AIDS, andlist of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. New women from ethnic and racial minority groups—areforms of discrimination can develop over time—for engaging with the intersection of different forms ofexample, discrimination against migrant workers only discrimination.becomes a major human rights problem once migrationfor work becomes a widespread phenomenon. And Participation and Inclusionsituations and treatment that have in the past been According to the UN Common Understanding, “Everyconsidered natural, if perhaps unfortunate, can come to person and all peoples are entitled to active, free andbe recognized as discriminatory. Sex-based discrimina- meaningful participation in, contribution to, and enjoy-tion is a classic example. While it may once have been ment of civil, economic, social, cultural and politicalcommon sense to think that women weren’t suited development in which human rights and fundamentalby nature to exercising political power, entering into freedoms can be realized.” The principles of participa-contracts, owning property, and so on, it is now clearly tion and inclusion direct our attention both to therecognized in human rights law that depriving women objectives of programming, and to programmingof these entitlements is just as serious as singling out a processes.racial or religious minority for such treatment. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human RightsAs the UN Common Understanding points out, the has identified a series of measures that may be requiredtreaty bodies are often the first place that a new prohib- to realize the right to participation:ited ground of discrimination is identified. For example,in a recent General Comment, the Committee on •  uilding the capacity of civil society organizations BEconomic, Social and Cultural Rights recognized sexual to engage with duty-bearersorientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. • Increasing transparency of policies and processesGender has unequivocal recognition from the human •  reating new channels and mechanisms for Crights system as a prohibited ground of discrimination, participation of marginalized groups32 33
  • •  ivic education and human rights awareness-raising C and expanding women’s direct involvement in specific programming stages, such as programme design and • Media and communication campaigns monitoring and evaluation. • Advocacy for and capacity-building of networks • Broadening alliances across civil society organizations Accountability and the Rule of Law The necessary legal procedures and mechanisms mustSource: OHCHR, “Frequently Asked Questions on a be in place within a country that will hold duty-bearersHuman Rights-Based Approach to Development accountable for their human rights obligations.Cooperation” (2006) According to the UN Common Understanding, “StatesThe principle of participation and inclusion requires, at and other duty-bearers are answerable for the obser-the level of programme objectives, that programmes vance of human rights. In this regard, they have tosupport the empowerment of people to be active comply with the legal norms and standards enshrinedcitizens with genuine ownership and control over their in human rights instruments. Where they fail to do so,countries’ development. There are multiple sources of aggrieved rights-holders are entitled to institute pro-the right to participation in human rights law, including ceedings for appropriate redress before a competentin the ICCPR, the UN Declaration on the Right to court or other adjudicator in accordance with the rulesDevelopment and Articles 7, 8 and 14 of CEDAW. The and procedures provided by law.”political empowerment of women has long been a The UN Common Understanding places a great deal ofcentral focus for UNIFEM, and is strongly reflected in emphasis on ensuring that human rights standards arethe 2004-7 MYFF. Examples of UNIFEM initiatives actionable through domestic legal systems. This is ainclude support for bringing women to the peace table, critical means of fostering human rights accountability,supporting women’s ability to stand for election, sup- and is reflected in the first outcome level result ofport for the formation of civil society organizations and UNIFEM’s 2004-7 MYFF: “Legislation and policies arenetworks, and support for gender-budgeting exercises. formulated and implemented to promote and protectAt the level of programming process, the Common women’s human rights.” All of UNIFEM’s offices areUnderstanding is drawing our attention to the fact that it supporting legal reform initiatives, to ensure that theis not enough to programme for women, we must also standards set by CEDAW and the other human treatiesbe programming with women. The priorities and views are given legal force at the national level, in areasof the women affected should be reflected in our ranging from violence against women, to land owner-programming choices, and their active involvement ship, to electoral processes.should be sought at all programming stages. UNIFEM’s One of the most powerful ways in which human rightslong history of partnerships with and support for standards can gain domestic legal force is through theirwomen’s NGOs is a good example of the participation integration into national constitutions. The constitution isprinciple in action. But beyond the partnerships a nation’s highest law, and all other laws must conformthemselves, attention should be paid to enhancing34 35
  • with its requirements. The inclusion of gender equality and trainings, are common to most of the UN’s HRBAother women’s human rights provisions within a constitu- programming. But there are challenges that are specifiction is the best long-term guarantee that the country’s to women’s human rights. For example, many govern-legal framework will respect women’s human rights. ments approach CEDAW implementation as the exclusive responsibility of their women’s machineries.Where constitutions have come up for revision, UNIFEM The obligation to implement CEDAW rests with thehas supported women’s groups to press for important State as a whole, and in Africa UNIFEM has introducedchanges. Some of the biggest opportunities to advance an innovative programme to engage all sectors ofgender equality arise when a new constitution is being government in the implementation of the Convention.drafted, as often occurs in the context of post-conflict It’s important to keep in mind that institutional buy-in forreconstruction. UNIFEM provided support for the women’s human rights can be increased through muchinclusion of constitutional guarantees of gender equality less confrontational methods than the language of theand women’s human rights in several new constitutions Common Understanding might suggest. In South Asiaduring the 2004-7 period. It should also be noted, for example, UNIFEM-supported intergovernmentalthough, that constitutional reform can be an especially roundtables on CEDAW have allowed governments inchallenging area for advancing women’s human rights, the region to share positive experiences and successesas the political stakes in the negotiations will be high for in implementing the Convention, and these roundtablesall sectors of the society. Where competing interests have led to improved institutional arrangements in aand agendas are strong, even the best efforts may fail number of produce the desired results. Finally, the UN Common Understanding highlights anApart from the legal framework, there are other critically additional dimension of accountability in the capacitynecessary components to ensuring accountability. of rights-holders to make claims against duty-bearers.Government institutions and officials need to be UNIFEM’s work in this regard has already been men-responsive to women’s human rights entitlements. tioned above, under the principle of participation. WhileThe second outcome level result of UNIFEM’s MYFF the reference to rights-holder capacity in the Commonis focused on ensuring that “Mainstream institutions Understanding places a major emphasis on the ability ofdemonstrate leadership, commitment, technical capac- individuals to advance their claims through the courts, itity and accountability to support gender equality and should be noted that the most important accountability-women’s empowerment.” When it comes to getting related capacity rights-holders can have is theirgovernmental institutions to recognize and have political capacity to work together. Women’s NGOs, NGOwill for women’s human rights, have the technical networks and civil society organizations have alwaysknowledge to put them into practice, and set up been the true driving force behind the realization ofthe mechanisms and procedures that will make this women’s human rights, and support for these organiza-possible, there’s no standard procedure or rulebook to tions is an essential component of the HRBA.follow. Some approaches, such as judicial or police36 37