Using a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) means putting the human being and human rights at the centre.
One reason to use a human rights based approach is to help duty bearers realise that they are legally obliged to respect, protect and fulfil as well as to make it easier for rights holders to claim their rights.
In practice, this can mean making it possible for people to take part in decisions that may affect their human rights, e.g. in urban development.
It can also be about helping those responsible for fulfulling rights to learn and know how to respect these rights. Adopting a human rights based approach means integrating standards and principles of human rights into policymaking and into day to day routines of organisations.
There are many ways of using and adopting a human rights based approach. There are also different models to use. The Raoul Wallenberg Institute works with a HRBA in various contexts and in different ways.
The PLANET principle is often used in international development. It should be adapted to the context of a specific region and project. How it is used depends on the circumstances and the particular human rights challenges.
Implementing the HRBA using the PLANET model
Six pillars form the basis:
- Non-discrimination and equality
An easy way to remember the above pillars is that HRBA improves our PLANET.
P is for Participation
Participation means that duty bearers make sure to involve right holders in development and activities that may affect them.
For example, people should be informed – with enough information – in a transparent way. People ought to able to influence the formulation of goals and how these should be achieved. People must be able to contribute and make sure their voices are heard. This is called using ‘a bottom-up approach’.
Non-discrimination and equality are important aspects when people get to particiate. To make sure everyone can enjoy their rights, it may be necessary to arrange for sign language or making meetings accessible e.g. using visuals for example. Also, there are different degrees of participation, that involve people to different extents: from information to involvement and even control.
L is for Legality or legal obligation to implement human rights
Human rights are standards necessary for a life of dignity for all. They are universal, inalienable, indivisible, interconnected and inter-dependent. Duty-bearers, such as e.g. states, must enforce international human rights standards, drawn out in treaties and UN recommendations. Duty bearers must enforce them in a way that promotes equality and non-discrimination. Implementing human rights adequately is closely linked to meaningful participation, accountability, and the rule of law.
When human rights are being implemented, special procedures and Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) carried out by UN Treaty Bodies enables the monitoring of the implementation. Civil society plays a key role in the early gathering of information on the human rights situation in a country. This contributes to the reports submitted to monitoring bodies. These bodies issue recommendations for a state to improve their commitment to human rights.
A is for Accountability
Accountability is critical to ensuring inclusive and sustainable democracies where people live in peace.
Duty bearers are responsible of making sure people can enjoy their rights. If they cannot or do not, they must be subject to some form of enforceable sanction. Thus, so called accountability mechanisms exist to make sure duty bearers are held accountable. These can be political, administrative and judicial. Free and fair elections is one example. Laws should be followed up. Steps for remedy should be made in case a state performs poorly. Regularly checking that states adhere to the principle of rule of law and equal access to justice is critical and in line with accountability.
There are different components to accountability.
For individuals to have their rights respected and protected accountability is crucial. Corruption and lack of accountability may be obstacles to development.
N is for Non-discrimination and equality
Non-discrimination and equality are key principles of International Law. They are also a foundation of all Human Rights. Realising human rights, no on should be discriminated against. Everyone should have equal opportunity to have their rights realised. Equality is about respecting the inherent dignity of each individual and recognising that all have the same rights.
Using a one size fits all approach is often not enough. Instead, it is better if duty bearers implement targeted positive discrimination and affirmative actions, to guarantee that all individuals have access to their rights.
No one should be left behind. Equality is a prerequisite for the realisation of human rights and development.
Inclusion of all, regardless of their background and situation, is also key component of participation.
E is for Empowerment
Empowerment is about the ability of rights holders to ask and stand up for their rights. It is also about the capacity of duty bearers to uphold their responsibilities and realise the rights.
When using a human rights based approach, one shoudl consider and determine which actors to empower. It is important to analyse and evalue who will be the most affected. It is also key to identify which stakeholders that are best suited and most likely to get engaged in the human rights issue in question.
T is for Transparency
Transparency refers to access to information and clarity of decision-making processes.
Transparency increases trust in duty bearers. It gives rights holders and civil society the possibilityc to meaningfully participate in decisions which affect their lives.