Human rights based approaches in EU development policies
A joint initiative of the International Federation Terre des Hommes, Action Aid International, Amnesty International EU Office, and the International Human Rights Network exploring the application of human rights based approaches to EU development policies.

The four partners commissioned a briefing paper from IHRN to explore the application of human rights based approaches to development in EU external aid policies, with the report available here.

The report was launched in Brussels on October 7 2008 followed by a panel discussion chaired by Paul Adamson (The Centre) with:

• Patrick Twomey (Director, International Human Rights Network)

• Richard Howitt (MEP, Subcommittee on Human Rights)

• Anton Jensen ( European Commission, DG Development)

• Charles Michel Geurts (European Commission, DG External Relations)

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" with similar commitments to its humanitarian aid and Common Foreign and Security Policy. 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 practice)
    • 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 as regards the imperative to apply HRBA to development (including the fight against poverty).

The report explores the extent to which 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 can the institutions as well as NGOs and other actors assist and ensure that these commitments are met.

The research was led by International Human Rights Network (IHRN).