EUROPEAN UNION: Human Rights-Based Approaches in EU Development Policies

Summary: A joint initiative of International Federation Terre des Hommes, ActionAid, International Amnesty International EU Office & International Human Rights Network.

A briefing paper has been commissioned to explore the application of human rights based approaches to development in EU external aid policies, to be launched in Spring 2008.

As the largest development donor in the world, the European Union is committed to ensuring that "Human rights is at the forefront of EU Development Cooperation". The policies flow from the legal obligations of its Member States, as well as from EU treaty provisions which recognise human rights as common values underpinning EU partnership and dialogue with third countries.

The concept of human rights based approaches (HRBA) is contained in five legal principles, namely:

  • Express application of the international human rights framework
  • Empowerment of rights holders
  • Participation in one's own development (as of right and not just as best
  • Non-discrimination and prioritisation of vulnerable groups; as well as
  • Accountability of duty-bearers to rights-holders (for process and impact)

These legal and policy commitments of the EU reflect a wider international consensus that it is imperative to apply HRBA to development (including the fight against poverty).

The briefing paper will explore how the EU understands and integrates HRBA in its external development policies. The process is intended to raise awareness and inform decision-making by development actors, working with, and within, EU institutions. Key questions include how EU institutions as well as NGOs and other actors can assist and ensure that these commitments are met. The research is led by International Human Rights Network (IHRN).

Implementing, and other, development partners of the EU are invited to complete the short questionnaire at: please forward to [email protected]

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