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Publications: Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights-based Approach to Development Cooperation

The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published in 2006 "Frequently Asked Questions on a Human Rights-based Approach to Development Cooperation". The goal of this publication, according to Ms. Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights, is to advance shared understanding about how the goals of human rights and development can be achieved through more effective development cooperation, within wider strategies and coalitions for change.

The publication contains four areas:

1- What are human rights and their obligations?

2- Human rights and development (Millennium Declaration, Millennium Development Goals, poverty reduction, good governance and economic growth);

3- A human rights-based approach and what value does it add to development;

4- Implications of a human rights-based approach for development programming.

In the United Nations Programme for Reform that was launched in 1997, the Secretary-General called on all entities of the United Nations system to mainstream human rights into their various activities and programmes within the framework of their respective mandates. Since then a number of United Nations agencies have adopted a human rights-approach to their development cooperation and have gained experiences in its operationalization. However, United Nations inter-agency collaboration at global and regional levels, and especially at the country level, requires a common understanding of this approach and its implications for development programming. This was highlighted by the agencies involved in the implementation of the approach at the Inter-agency Workshop on Implementing a Human Rights-based Approach in the Context of United Nations Reform, held on 3-5 may 2005, in Stamford, USA.

The Statement of Common Understanding specifically refers to a human rights-based approach to the development cooperation and development programming by United Nations agencies. Although there is no comprehensive description of a human rights-based approach, the United Nations agencies agree on many main features of this approach. They are included in the document entitled “The Human Rights-based Approach to Development Cooperation: Towards a Common Understanding among the United Nations Agencies”.

The publication contains a number of references and websites that provide information on a human rights-based approach in terms of general references, concepts, technical aspects and policies.

Nezha Bernoussi