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					Informal Consultation: Human Rights and Poverty Reduction

                                                  Meeting Report

                              Friday 29, September 2006, 9am-1pm

                                            The New School, N.Y.

                                                 Table of Contents

Participant List ...........................................................................................................2
I. Preface ....................................................................................................................3
II. Introduction – Philip Alston ..................................................................................3
III. Background to the Initiative – Mac Darrow ........................................................4
IV. Proposed outline of conceptual approach –Sakiko Fukuda-Parr.........................5
V. Budgets, PRSPs and human rights .....................................................................10
VI. Discussion with participants .............................................................................12
VII. Conclusion and next steps ...............................................................................17
                                Participant List

1. Gbemisola Akinboyo – Programme Officer, HRBA, Global Policy Section, UNICEF

2. Philip Alston – Meeting Chair – Professor of law NYU, UN Special Rapporteur on
   Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and Special Advisor to the UN High
   Commissioner for Human Rights on the MDGs.

3. Radhika Balakrishnan – Professor, International Studies and Economics, Marymount
   Manhattan College

4. Mike Cohen – Director, Graduate Program in International Affairs, New School,
   previously director of urban programming with the World Bank

5. Mac Darrow – Coordinator a.i., MDGs and Right to Development Unit, OHCHR

6. Joanne Dickow, Counsellor, United Nations Affairs, World Bank

7. Diane Elson – Professor of Sociology, University of Essex

8. Juan Alberto Fuentes – Director, Institute of Fiscal Studies, Guatemala

9. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr – Lead consultant – Development Economist, Visiting Professor,
   Graduate Programme in International Affairs, New School; Director of UNDP‟s
   Human Development Report office for 10 years, and previously with World Bank,
   Rural Development

10. Liz Gibbons –Chief of Global Policy, UNICEF

11. Barry Herman – Professor, Graduate Program in International Affairs, New School,
    previously with UNDESA

12. Valeria Izzi – UNDP, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery

13. Rachel Nadelman – Researcher, New School

14. Thord Palmlund – advisor to “Action 2” U.N. inter-agency program on human rights

15. John Tobin – Visiting Professor, Centre for Human Rights and Global Social Justice,

16. Vera Wilhelm – Poverty Reduction Group, World Bank, specializing in the area of
    PRSPs and national budgets

I. Preface

This meeting is one of a series of consultations designed to examine specific ways in which
human rights standards and principles are relevant to poverty reduction, in both a conceptual and
functional sense. An iterative process of conceptualization and field assessment, in consultation
with partners within and beyond the U.N. system, will lead to a clearer conceptual and
operational framework for OHCHR‟s contributions to broader U.N. work in this domain.
Further details are set out in the background note to the meeting.

Within the chapeau outlined above, this informal consultation included a specific focus on one
particular sub-theme: monitoring public policies from a human rights perspective through
national budget processes. The conceptualization and implementation process in future will
incorporate an explicit focus on a second sub-theme: inequality, conflict and security linkages
with human rights in PRS processes. A background paper on this topic was presented in advance
of the meeting (attached) by Graham Brown of the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human
Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) in Oxford, and will serve as a reference point for further work in
this area in future.

II. Introduction – Philip Alston

Philip Alston opened the meeting with a number of observations on the complex relationship
between the MDGs and the promotion of human rights-inspired approaches to development

There are numerous challenges to be overcome if human rights are to be integrated effectively
into the MDGs framework. Many stem from the complexity of trying to bring two sets of
professionals and their respective worldviews together in such a way that the result is a more
integrated and nuanced approach. In particular, the need is to ensure that human rights are seen
as integral to the exercise rather than as yet another add-on being promoted by a special interest
group. This was one of the tasks confronted in the preparation of the final report of the
Millennium Project. In that context, however, with the notable exception of the inclusion of a
nuanced and sophisticated approach to various aspects of gender, and thus often on women‟s
rights, the final product was not infused with human rights awareness. This was so despite the
inclusion of a sizeable chapter which addressed human rights. The successful inclusion of
women‟s rights, it was stated, was achieved as a result of some excellent work by UNIFEM
which in turn fed into a clear understanding on the part of Jeffrey Sachs and his collaborators
that there were powerful instrumental reasons for focusing much more strongly on women and
the role they could play in promoting the achievement of a range of MDG goals.

By and large, human rights have too often been left at the margins, not succeeding in influencing
mainstream development and economic analyses. By way of counterpoint, UNDP‟s Human
Development Report 2000 has arguably gone further than any other institutional statement to
underscore conceptual and functional linkages between human rights and economic

So therefore, what is the potential for integrating these two universes? Alston prefaced further
discussion of this question with an account of a recent experience in Guatemala where he was on
mission both as UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and
also as the High Commissioner‟s Special Adviser on the MDGs. The activities associated with
the former mandate attracted significant daily media attention. This was in marked contrast to
the near silence greeting the MDG conference on the final day of the mission. The reason? He
was advised by various interlocutors in advance of the conference that one word that cannot be
used in public debate in Guatemala is “taxes.” The average income tax rate in Latin America is
23% while in Guatemala it is 10%, which severely curtails the ability of government to
implement public policies and social programmes. One can see the impact of unavailable social
funding in social protection – there are 6 times more private police than regular police, for
example. Therefore, when Alston spoke about the poverty problems in Guatemala in the context
of the MDG goals and mentioned the need for a higher level of taxation to support the
government‟s ability to implement social programming, it received almost no coverage by the
papers because of the extent to which the media‟s agenda is influenced by that of the wealthy
elites within the country who have long ensured artificially low rates of taxation.

There is no PRSP in Guatemala but the country has produced a national report focusing on the
challenges of poverty. As an aside, Alston questioned why the National Human Development
Report, which had a strong human rights perspective and seemed to be an excellent piece of
analysis, had had so little impact on official exercises such as the national poverty report. He
noted that in general those working on poverty issues were keen not to get involved in issues that
might have been seen to be politically controversial such as human rights. But one of the
downsides of this in Guatemala was that the very committed government officials who produced
the anti-poverty report were essentially technicians who lacked any political constituency. That
in turn meant there was likelihood of any sustained mobilization in favour of a program designed
to respond to the findings in the report. In contrast, while the human rights groups have no
particular authority within government, they do have a constituency – for example indigenous
and other groups that are actively focusing on what needs to be done to improve condition of
human rights in Guatemala. The possibility of encouraging collaboration between these human
rights groups and those working on the anti-poverty agenda offers an instructive example of the
potential synergies which need to be explored more generally in the context of the current

III. Background to the Initiative – Mac Darrow

The background note to the meeting was referred to (attached). To highlight one or two features
within that note, it was underscored that OHCHR is a relatively small agency within UN system
with a mandate explicitly focused on the promotion and protection of human rights. In
approaching the challenges of situating human rights within the wider economic development
policy and institutional setting, the specificity of OHCHR‟s mandate and established
comparative advantages and focus on human rights must be kept clearly in view, and certain core
functions preserved. There is a genuine question about how far OHCHR and other human rights
actors should seek to go in this domain, which each agency must answer for itself, although there
is a growing appreciation that complete blindness to the highly influential poverty reduction and
macro-economic policy context is not a viable option.

The conceptual work on linkages between human rights, development and poverty reduction is
relatively well developed. The main challenges now are to break through and take areas of
conceptual convergence to a deeper level, linked to economic and financial concepts, policies
and operational frameworks, and rise to the challenge of implementation in strategically
identified areas. Strategy, rather than ad-hocery, is everything.

OHCHR is among an increasing number of agencies without a specific mandate in the domains
of economic development or public finance that is increasingly being called upon to contribute to
development policy dialogues and poverty reduction strategy processes at the national level.
Experience to date shows that the challenges in this area are considerable. Under what
circumstances should agencies such as OHCHR feel justified in confining their energies within
narrowly defined areas of technical expertise (for example, in governance or particular social
sectors), without regard to the bigger picture? Alternatively, to what extent and under what
conditions should human rights actors seek to assert their perspectives at the „main table‟ where
policy priorities are set and resource allocation and budget decisions are made? How can human
rights actors help to more effectively identify and address the root causes of human rights
violations, in addition to the comparatively visible manifestations or symptoms? The potential
costs, risks and benefits have yet to be properly assessed in particular countries let alone
globally, although moves are underway in this direction and the present initiative forms part of
this effort.

Of course, OHCHR is not the only UN agency seeking to bring human rights more explicitly
within development work. UNICEF has a long standing record in this domain, as increasingly
have other agencies including UNDP, UNIFEM, UNFPA, among others, along with increasingly
explicit engagement with human rights within multilateral development and finance institutions
(World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and IFC being examples) as well as an
increasing number of bilateral donors. Beyond the donors, the linkages between poverty and
human rights are receiving a great deal of attention in civil society. Human rights NGOs are
increasingly taking on socio-economic rights issues within their mandates, with sophisticated
campaigning and country strategies. The fact that Amnesty International has chosen to focus on
poverty and human rights for its 2008 global campaign is a noteworthy manifestation of this
trend. Hence, whatever strategies and entry points might prove feasible for a human rights
organization to pursue in these challenging policy contexts, the partnership potential appears to
be growing and offering further hope for impact.

IV. Proposed outline of conceptual approach –Sakiko Fukuda-Parr

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr emphasized that her presentation reflects the very preliminary stage of
conceptualization that we are currently in. She outlined broad elements of a conceptual
framework for human rights and poverty reduction, building upon the significant body of
conceptual material already in existence.

Beyond seeking feedback on this conceptual framework, the second purpose of the consultation
meeting was to delve deeper into conceptual and practical implications of human rights in budget
processes, and in particular, how national policies could be monitored from a human rights
perspective through the use of national budgets as a tool. This would be subject of subsequent
presentations by Juan Alberto Fuentes, addressing practical country studies in Latin America,

and Diane Elson, discussing how the specific obligations reflected in the CEDAW convention
could be reflected in national budgets as outlined in her recent study for UNIFEM entitled
“Budgeting for Women‟s Rights.” Practical applications such as these help to de-mystify for
practitioners the specific contributions that human rights can bring to development.

Recently, there has been an enormous amount of progress in defining in what one actually means
when saying, “realizing human rights through economic policies.” The work in the office of
High Commissioner for Human Rights has been significant, notably the production of the 2004
Conceptual Framework on Human Rights and Poverty Reduction, and more recent Principles
and Guidelines on a Human Rights-based Approach to Poverty Reduction. The „Why MES with
Human Rights‟ workshop in 2005, organized by Marymount Manhattan College with the
International Council on Human Rights Policy, is another noteworthy initiative, linking human
rights principles explicitly to PRS processes and particular macro-economic policy prescriptions,
helping to address difficult questions of trade-offs. This amongst other work over the last five
years has made it much easier to think about PRSPs and human rights.

It was suggested that the following structure of analysis may be useful in seeking to bring out
key elements of the relationship between human rights and PRSPs:

   1. Value added of human rights to poverty reduction strategies – “principles”
   2. PRS policy content – HR links
   3. PRS national policy process, and international negotiations process – HR links

1. Value added of HR to HD

The following discussion proceeds from the perspective of development economist rather than
human rights lawyer, which is the experience of Sakiko Fukuda-Parr brings to the table. Yet, the
perspective also is one a bit outside of typical development perspective.

From this perspective, the so –called „values added‟ by human rights to human development in a
general sense can be said to be:

   -   Overriding concern: freedom and dignity of each and every individual
           o A focus on individuals rather than national averages
           o Importance of both freedom and dignity
   -   Accountability: Human rights carry correlate duties and obligations.
           o The idea of the obligations embodied in human rights is far less “wishy-washy,”
              and more concrete than many development goals that are more like aspirations.
           o Defines in fact what are the nature of responsibility of the State for the realization
              of human rights and therefore poverty reduction in terms of national policy and
              other governmental activities
   -   Process: Obligations of result and conduct
           o Meaning not just increasing numbers (i.e. number of children enrolled in school)
              but the manner that process arrived at through transparent participatory processes.
   -   Instruments – legal, political action to enforce rights when possible.
           o This has tended to be missing in traditional development programs and in
              conventional thinking about development.

However, a problem for economists is that if human rights are often perceived as being reducible
to mere „normative ends‟ which, to the extent that this characterization (not exclusive to human
rights) holds, does not necessarily provide an analytical tool for development or get us far into
the specifics of policy debates and the domain of economists. Human rights to indeed set out a
range of normative ends, going to the equal right of all people to enjoy certain agreed conditions
fundamental to human dignity, but also set out a range of operational principles relevant to the
content of poverty reduction strategies and the processes that should be followed in policy-
making and planning. These principles include:
    • Obligations of participation and transparency in state conduct
    • Non discrimination
    • Non retrogression
    • Core obligations for immediate action to achieve minimum essential level of each socio-
        economic right (ESCR)
    • Remedies where rights are violated

Principles such as these are relatively well known, however the real issue is how to apply them in
practice. To what extent, and under what conditions, could the application of these principles
help to influence policy priorities in a manner that is consistent with individuals‟ human rights

2. PRS policy content

In order to see how these „values added‟ might play out in practice, an examination was made of
how the „poverty reduction strategy‟ concept related with meanings and analogues reflected in
the World Bank‟s PRSP guidance material, and to human rights concepts and principles. These
relationships can be reflected in tabular form as follows:

PRS concept             PRS WB guidelines and Human Rights norms
                        practice              and principles
Policy instrument for Objectives defined as         Objectives defined as
poverty reduction     Multidimensional              Realization of ESCR.
                      poverty. Key policy           Key policy principles
                      components                        - Equality
                         - growth/income                - Non-
                         - Health                           discrimination
                         - Education                (Reduce poverty,
                      (MDGs)                        inequality and
                                                    State obligations to
                                                    respect, protect, fulfill
National policy         Participatory and           Participation of people
process                 country owned:              in decision making:
                        - For ownership as a        - For having a say and
                        means to effective          transparency as a
                        implementation              means to voice and
                                                    accountability of state.

Instrument of aid        Country-led                 People and countries
agreement                development:                drive their own
                         - Partnership agreement,    development. Donor
                         departure from policies     partners have
                         imposed by ex ante          international
                         conditionality.             obligations for poor
                                                     peoples RtD.

One of the key issues here is whether we should be talking about poverty reduction or reducing
inequality. There may be tensions between „human rights‟ and „human development‟
approaches, e.g. do we monitor progress by looking at growth and poverty reduction or must we
also pay attention to situation of very poorest as well as disparities?

As to participation: from a human development perspective, ownership should be viewed as a
means, rather than an end. But from a human rights point of view, participation is not just an
instrumental procedure, but an end in itself. This is based on belief, enshrined in legal
agreements, that people should have a say and be entitled to hold duty bearers accountable for
their performance. People themselves should be agents of their own development, driving the
development process.

As to the links between PRSPs and national policy – PRSPs are policies that should draw from,
and reflect, state obligations to respect, protect, fulfill human rights, and apply key principles
            – Economic growth policies that are pro-poor
            – Social investments that are pro-poor
            – Macroeconomic policies
            – Realize civil and political rights to remove discrimination
            – Address social arrangements that lead to inequality and discrimination

The standard typology of human rights obligations, drawn particularly from analyses of
obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(ICESCR), can be elaborated as follows:

Obligation        Meaning

Respect           The state must not interfere directly with people
                  realising their rights

Protect           The state must stop others from interfering with people‟s
Fulfill           The state must build the legislation, institutions, norms to
                  realise the right

These obligations could be reflected in PRSP‟s and budget allocations in the following way,
taking education as an example:

Obligation                  Example

Respect                     Don’t ban children from school – don’t cut
                            budgets and close schools
Protect                     Tackle household child gender bias – remove
                            obstacles e.g. toilets
Fulfil                      Build schools, train teachers – raise social
                            allocation ratios
Non-discrimination          No ethnic bias in education budgets
Core obligations and        Ensure most deprived achieve minimum level
progressive realisation     of education; Raise enrolments and quality -
                            Priority to most deprived
Participation               Community role in local schools – Citizen
                            participation e.g. Porto Alegre
Effective remedy            Complaint procedure accessible –
                            Accountability procedures

For example, this model would allow thinking through the difference in budget allocations for
the areas and communities where enrollment in primary education is the lowest. This is an area
where the MDGs framework is inadequate, in and of itself. As to the participation requirement,
the citizen participation initiative in Porto Alegre, opening budgets to public scrutiny and
accountability, is one visible example among many others.

Reverting back to the original inquiry how human rights can relate to and strengthen the PRS
approach, the following tentative conclusions can be drawn, which are not exhaustive:

           –    Economic growth policies that are pro-poor – investment priorities for
                agriculture, employment for low skilled workers, reduce inequality and poverty
           –    Social investments that are pro-poor – spending and revenue priorities. Reduce
                inequality and poverty.. (Elson 2006)
           –    Macroeconomic policies – do neoliberal policies constrain? Rethink the role of
                the state? (Balakrishnan 2005; Elson 2006)
                    – Pay particular attention to the nature of macro economic policies – Are
                        they indeed non-challengable?
           –    Realize civil and political rights to increase voice and accountability, and to
                remove discrimination – deepening democracy (UNDP 2002)
                    – Citizens groups hold officials accountable for their spending priorities.
                    – Reveal participatory processes of accountability – also reveal poverty.
           –    Address institutionalized structures that lead to inequality – address root causes
                of horizontal inequalities, between men and women, between
                ethnic/racial/linguistic groups (Brown, 2006)
                    – : Horizontal inequalities – between groups – has been one of the
                        recognized causes of violent conflict, e.g. in Nepal. Deepest conflict
                        occurs in the areas most neglected.

3. PRS national policy process, and international negotiations process

In the national policy making process, human rights reinforces human development demands for
improved voice and accountability, with a focus on the following:

   -   Voice: expressing priorities
   -   Participation of civil society, including human rights organizations
   -   Impacting upon PRSPs and the budget process
   -   Decentralized decision making, insofar as consistent with human rights requirements
   -   Accountability: holding decision makers to account

PRSPs are intended to be transformative, but to what extent in practice are these processes
empowering recipient countries? To what extent is „national ownership‟ of these processes
really „national‟, admitting meaningful participation beyond ministries of finance? One
additional question that might arise from a human rights standpoint is the extent to which
financing decisions should be entirely based on the quality of government policies, or rather (or
in addition), the international obligation to achieve human rights to which all governments have
to varying degrees subscribed. Moreover, from a human rights perspective, more emphasis
should arguably be given to countries that have farther to go to in facilitating and providing the
fulfillment of the human rights of their populations, keeping in perspective the legitimate
absorptive capacity constraints faced in many cases.

V. Budgets, PRSPs and human rights

Presentation of Juan Alberto Fuentes

Attached to the meeting report.

Presentation of Diane Elson

Diane Elson noted the significant amount of work that was underway presently on human rights
and national budgets, focusing upon increasing transparency and accountability of budget
decisions, bringing together human rights and development actors within civil society. UN
agencies have been very active as well, including UNICEF in supporting the examination of
rights of the child in government policies and projects, and UNIFEM which provided the
institutional support for Elson‟s gender budgeting research (attached, although the UNIFEM
report is not a product of the present initiative).

Budgets are important from a practical perspective, a vital implementation tool that can shed
light on what actually gets done in expenditure and revenue-raising. National plans, PRSPs, etc
all depend on implementation of budgets. When the Minister of Finance draws up budget they
are frequently faced with groups of people with well defined entitlements, such as:
        -firms supplying influence
        -government employees with contractual claims

Citizens, however, don‟t have contracts. Accordingly, their claims are not nearly as strong as
those with contracts. Those with contracts aren‟t the only rights bearers! Contractual rights are
not human rights. Countries have a range of obligations to individuals on their territories as
established through international treaties. These aren‟t just matters for the ministries directly
faced with citizen concerns, but also of equal concern for finance ministries. With these realities
in mind, there is a need for the „entitlement‟ dimensions of human rights obligations to be
brought to the fore in budget discussions (all rights involving „freedoms‟ as well as
„entitlements‟ as defined in the various treaties to which governments have subscribed). Due
process, implying remedies for addressing violations, are an indispensable component of a
rights-based approach to these issues, apart from helping us to think more strongly about a
system of entitlements.

There are a range of possible entry points into national budget processes from a human rights
perspective, as brought out in the recent CEDAW and budgets report for UNIFEM, notably:
    1. the expenditure side
    2. the revenue side
    3. the macro-economics of budget processes

Analysing budgets through the lens of „non-discrimination and equality‟ is key here, with the
„non-discrimination‟ obligation being of an immediate character under the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). From a human rights
perspective, substantive equality is the mandatory measure, allowing for positive measures to
redress structural discrimination (without necessarily implying equality of results). Many
existing tools of measurement can be adapted for human rights purposes. For example,
beneficiary incidence analysis can be used to help analyse quality of health services, and whether
services are provided in a manner consistent with human dignity. Tracking surveys can be used
to follow expenditures, tracking the flow of money through all stages in participatory ways that
empower people so they know what they were supposed to be getting and what paths to take to
follow up on any discrepancies.

Some of these issues have come out in a recent study in Mexico on health budgeting, part of
ongoing research on national budget compliance with the ICESCR. Health care is delivered
through two distinct systems, one (covered by insurance within formal sector employment)
serving the better off, the other residual service serving the poorer people predominantly in the
informal sector. The research tried to discern how much money goes to which system from the
public system. Findings showed that the system serving those better off economically in fact
received a higher percentage of public funding. In addition, health outcomes were worse for the
poorer people. This therefore is a case for saying that the health budget is not complying with
the non-discrimination requirement enshrined in the ICESCR.

All of this links closely with the MDG process, implying a costing of agreed goals and targets.
Setting laws in place is one thing, but actually costing the implementation of those laws is
another. And even if sufficient funds have been allocated, mechanisms are needed to ensure that
the funds are actually spent in efficient ways leading towards the legislated outcomes.

Critically, the requirement under ICESCR to devote the „maximum extent of available resources‟
towards the realization of socio-economic rights calls for an emphasis on taxation (revenue) as
well as expenditure. There are some points of potential controversy here in practice, as one of

the most obvious instruments to finance public programs in context of trade liberalization are
broad-based sales taxes, yet these impact most adversely upon the poorest. Progressive taxation
policies must be asserted more systematically, to counter this. The „maximum extent of
available resources‟ requirement also depends upon what macro-economic policy settings are in
place. For example, on the trade-off between lower inflation targets and high employment,
numerous agencies (including UNDESA and UNDP) have been making a case that inflation
fears have been over-emphasised to the cost of social programmes and employment targets,
leaving human resources idle and under-employed. These are controversial debates, however
PRSPs should more systematically encourage policy alternatives to be put onto the table, within
more flexible resource envelopes, as well as more determinedly encourage active, free and
meaningful participation.

VI. Discussion with participants

The presentations provoked fulsome discussion around a range of issues of a conceptual,
strategic and substantive nature. The sub-headings below are not mutually exclusive, and this
summary doesn‟t purport to be comprehensive.

‘Value-added’ of human rights in poverty reduction

      The so-called „values added‟ of human rights were much discussed (perhaps apart from
       the question of „value-changing‟, as some commentators advocate). Human rights
       standards do not of themselves offer a blueprint for policy especially in the macro-
       economic domain, and are often perceived by economists as „absolutes‟, not helping in
       the difficult decisions and trade-offs concerning how different rights and interests are to
       be balanced, prioritized, sequenced and so forth. However there was ultimately a broadly
       shared view in the room that human rights do import something distinctive into the
       processes through which important policy and budget decisions are undertaken,
       strengthening capacities on the demand side as well as incentives for government
       performance, along with establishing baseline entitlements for voice, accountability, and
       service delivery.

      One of the factors that has beleaguered the introduction of the human rights paradigm
       within development discourse has been an assumption that human rights necessarily
       imports something that is radically different from established development principles,
       overlooking or discarding the hard-won lessons of development practice. More nuanced
       comparative analysis is needed at each stage, focused on synergies and contradictions
       between human rights and poverty reduction work in any given setting.

      Human rights are an expression not only of internationally agreed prerequisites for
       human dignity, but also an expression of the reality that interests and rights will
       inevitably clash, requiring just and effective grievance mechanisms. While human rights
       condition (rather than pre-empt, „trump‟ or resolve) difficult policy choices, the human
       rights normative and institutional framework – if integrated within poverty reduction
       strategy processes – can contribute towards social cohesion by forestalling violent

       conflict, ensuring as far as possible that all voices are heard and that those losing from
       policy-making processes are compensated.

      Nonetheless, we can‟t assume that integrating human rights will automatically result in a
       conflict-sensitive approach. Moreover, it is not always true that when you have poverty
       and inequality that there will also be conflict. An integrated of reflection and action is
       called for, examining synergies as well as possible contradictions between „human rights-
       based‟ and „conflict-sensitive‟ approaches to development work.

Strategic considerations relating to human rights integration in PRS

      If we are committed to the integration of a human rights perspective into development
       long-term, it may be necessary to look beyond integrating the approach into PRSPs, as if
       lessons of development history and recent evaluations of PRSPs are any guide, one might
       question this instrument will have a long operation life in the development world.
       Rather, or in addition, there is a need to focus on incorporating human rights principles
       and concepts with particular policies and linking to broader issues and frameworks.

      Economic language should be used when integrating human rights with human
       development. Rights claimants are consumers, or in other words, the demand side. The
       government/authority (duty bearer) is the supply side. This language could help bridge
       communication problems, as could a more determined focus on socio-economic rights in
       order to help overcome the persistent bias towards civil and political rights in practice,
       with more efforts to link human rights concepts to concepts familiar to economists.

      As a further suggestion in how human rights terms can be translated into economic terms,
       the widely accepted 3-tiered typology of human rights obligation (most commonly
       associated with socio-economic rights under the ICESCR) can be un-packed as follows:
           o “Respect” – can be “defining principles of access”
           o “Protect” – the regulatory framework
           o “Fulfill” – “delivery,” connected to demand-side and users.

      In the opinion of some economists, the human rights case is not being made assertively
       enough, and from a strategic perspective fails to take sufficient account of the fact that
       „the economists are not doing that well lately.‟

      There is a need for a political strategy in addition to a conceptual framework when
       integrating human rights with development, recognizing diverse stakeholders and taking
       into considering different countries‟ reactions to what might appear like “foreign

      Human Rights language can help with how countries deal with internal and external
       economic policies. First, it can help us pay attention to how international agreements are
       understood in terms of states‟ obligations to their citizens. Without this there are risks,
       for instance, NAFTA forced Mexico to amend its constitution, which had been
       formulated and approved by the representatives elected by the Mexican people. Second,
       it can offer concrete ways to remedy internal economic policies, for instance, a US
       human rights network consisting of 217 organizations has used international human

       rights standards as a basis for advocacy on behalf of victims of the Hurricane Katrina

      „Human rights‟ talk is often perceived by economists as referring exclusively to civil and
       political rights. Therefore to mention human rights in the context of PRSPs has been
       viewed with suspicion as “new forms as conditionality” and related forms of pressure on
       governments. This comes, in part, from a lack of understanding in the minds of many
       economists that there could be concept of economic, social and cultural rights, beyond
       contractual or property rights.

      The human rights community itself is to some extent to blame for the popular emphasis
       on only political and civil rights, so therefore this perception needs to first change within
       the human rights world. This community needs to examine the concepts that human
       rights people publicly discuss – is it primarily torture and executions, or partnering
       development actors in supporting national efforts to realize human rights (including
       socio-economic rights)?

      The question of human rights conditionality (or governance conditionalities) is a vexed
       one. There has been a significant decrease in aid to countries with high infant mortality
       because there is a direct correlation with weak governance. If we use these indicators to
       determine assistance, are we just helping the more privileged?

Priority setting and policy choices

      Human rights principles of „universality‟ and „indivisibility‟ are notoriously vague when
       taken in the abstract, fuelling preoccupations that human rights are insensitive to resource
       constraints and practical realities. However, human rights can help in setting priorities in
       development, bringing to the surface the values underpinning economic development
       decisions that, for example, increase inequality even while fostering economic growth.
       Guided by human rights standards and principles, human rights force us to focus on the
       situation of the most deprived, urging progressive realization and strengthening
       incentives against retrogression. Bringing human rights into the frame can help to decide
       how to deal with things like budget deficit, what modalities one might take for making
       budget cuts that avoid hurting the most deprived.

      The concept of the „progressive realization of socio-economic rights‟ links human rights
       more directly to traditional development approaches, allowing a pragmatic time
       dimension in the identification and implementation of policy priorities, and time for
       planning towards agreed results, albeit with explicit and determined attention towards the
       most vulnerable sectors. Combined with realistic political management, as well as
       demand on the part of civil society (social demands), it also important to build the
       capacities of the state to respond. If we only think of human right demands, it is not
       possible to prioritize.

      In the end setting priorities is a political process. Determining priorities between larger
       sectors is in the end always a political decision. There is a range of political actors
       involved in this, different parts of government, the private sector, etc. Economic calculus
       can help in providing important information and evidence which should be taken into

       account, without overstating the decisiveness of that information, but the political process
       involves much larger range of inputs. A human rights approach feeds in other kinds of
       information and helps to give guidance on priorities.

      An argument was made for „universal access‟ policies as being consistent with rights
       approach, going beyond an approach focused upon poverty reduction, and helping further
       social cohesion. .

PRSPs, national budgets and human rights

      It is important to remember that the budget process is different from PRSP process, since
       it involves elected officials and budgets are public and actions and decisions are
       published in the press. By contrast, one participant noted the terrible lack of monitoring
       of budget outcomes at the country level and the fact that expenditure tracking surveys
       such as those used by the World Bank are ad hoc and not institutionalized. While these
       monitoring processes can still be useful, they often don‟t have an impact because the
       outcomes are not published since governments can prevent their dissemination.

      Expenditure trends are as important as absolute expenditures (for example, South Korea,
       a successful country, spends minimal sums on education). In addition, it is important to
       look to the literature on expenditures and outcomes. Moreover, from a human rights
       perspective, each country must be evaluated in the context of their own constraints. Are
       they making progress compared to their past? It is necessary to examine the unique
       individual contexts in order to arrive at evidence-based conclusions as to whether the
       „maximum extent of available resources‟ are being dedicated to the progressive
       realization of socio-economic rights.

      It is important not just to focus on taxation and the relation of taxes to expenditure, but
       also the nature of taxes – if they are regressive or progressive. In addition, when
       considering the “net affect of public expenditures” it is important to consider if the
       resources provided by the government from tax income do reach all tax payers (a critical
       consideration in Guatemala, for example). Questions of „tax breaks‟ for companies and
       fears of „corporate welfare states‟ must also be kept in view.

      Chambers of commerce one of the most effective lobbyists regarding taxes and
       expenditures. Some civil society watchdog groups are trying to counteract this powerful
       lobbying of big business. Watchdogs are important in human rights world too, including
       budget watchdogs. There is a need to work on ways in which these constituencies, along
       with the elected representatives in Parliament themselves, can better understand the
       budget process. To the uninitiated, budget documents can seem impenetrable.

      Since elected representatives are the people who enact budgets into law, the human rights
       community needs to develop ways of representing more clearly what can be done to
       adapt budgets and the budget process to incorporate, protect and promote rights. The
       process should build in an explicit identification of objectives and indicators.

      There was extensive discussion on the question of indicators. Some felt that generating
       new indicators to measure factors that the international community considers important,

       like human rights, can drain the already limited capacity of poor countries. From this
       standpoint it is important to work with the indicators with which countries already use.
       Others felt that the human rights normative framework could add to existing national
       monitoring efforts in ways that built upon without overloading national systems, and
       moreover that this requirement was not in all cases an externally driven one.

      There is a need a holistic view of the domestic and international resources at the country
       level to figure out the incidence on tax and expenditures to make decisions of rights and
       justice. Taking a broader view is critical point, which would ideally include a unified
       statement about what money comes in from relevant donors.

Rights and results

      Can human rights help produce better results? In Latin America infant mortality has
       dropped significantly overall, yet the poorest quintiles, with the highest infant mortality
       rates, have had a statistically insignificant change. If human rights had been included to
       formulate policies to target the most vulnerable, the decrease would have been more
       significant. More studies like this are needed to reveal that without including these
       human rights principles we are not making the necessary advances.

Participation, empowerment and transmission mechanisms for claiming rights

      One of the main differences between a human rights approach and any other kind of
       approach to development is empowerment, linked to the vocabulary of rights claims.
       This can help to buttress agendas for redistribution in development. One participant
       illustrated this point by noting that campaigners for women‟s rights have not often been
       mobilized in public protests to „demand MDG 3‟! The question of how human rights
       consciousness could be strengthened was raised, although some participants doubted
       whether the „empowerment‟ concept was sufficiently rigorous conceptually to warrant
       further in-depth discussion.

      Human rights can add to the „pro-poor growth‟ discussion, including on issues of growth
       elasticity, e.g. investments in school infrastructure. However further attention is needed
       to the institutions and transmission mechanisms which would allow people to claim these
       resources, beyond the „trickle-down‟ approach, and in a manner that can address
       problems of political patronage and handouts in exchange for political support within
       poor communities. A positive example given was the Education Guarantee Scheme in
       India, implemented as part of government‟s legal obligations, rather than charity, in
       which citizens are encouraged to think of themselves as rights-bearers. Taking examples
       such as this into account, what are the institutional modalities to make the link between
       investment and growth and the methods people have for claiming their rights?

      One must pay attention to the “transmission mechanisms” for human development as
       well as those for rights fulfillment, making sure that they are not seen as completely
       separate modes for the allocation of power and resources, exacerbating the existing
       polarization between them.

      The participation principle was much discussed. In practice there are limits that must be
       acknowledged about including participation in PRS processes. While there are
       internationally established principles that must be adhered to in certain development
       processes, this does not necessarily translate to “people on the ground making up their
       own policies.”

Accountability at the national and international levels

      Human rights can offer a method of holding corrupt governments accountable. One can
       see this in action in terms of trafficking in one Western African country recently, where
       the government – pressured by the international community on the basis of clearly
       defined legal obligations – was compelled to change its policy in a manner more
       responsive to the trafficking problem. By contrast, some participants questioned how far
       human rights imported something new to what human development approaches and „best
       practices‟ in PRSPs already contemplated in terms of accountability.

      The aid arguments must be articulated in a way that ensures that all failures don‟t get put
       on the government. International accountability is a principle enshrined in international
       law, even if specific obligations and claim-holder/duty-bearer relationships are difficult
       to define under binding agreements in force (e.g. ICESCR). In addition to aid, one must
       consider trade and finance, in particular the ways that economic and trade liberalization
       influences the fiscal space for human rights realisation. Defining an appropriate scheme
       of joint responsibility between donor and borrowing countries is critical for the prospects
       for the realization of human rights. Transparency is an important part of agenda.
       Accountability, voice and empowerment will all be nullified if there is not transparency
       about what is actually available.

VII. Conclusion and next steps

The feedback and discussion on the presentations will be used in order to further develop the
ideas presented, leading to a more refined and robust conceptual framework for human rights in
PRS that will be field-tested at the national level. Particular attention will be given in the coming
weeks to reinforcing the conceptual framework with perspectives drawn from conflict and
inequality field of research and practice. The remainder of the conceptualization and field
assessment work will be carried out in close consultation with partners within and outside the
U.N. system, as opportunities allow, leading to a review and consolidation phase in early/mid

Beyond contributing to general debates on human rights, macro-economic policies and poverty
reduction, with relevance to human rights and development practitioners alike, it is anticipated
that this process will lead to a clearer strategy for OHCHR‟s future contributions towards the
U.N. system‟s work in this field, including a clearer definition of objectives, thematic and
country priorities, strategic niches, partnership possibilities, and internal capacity development

MD, 16 October 2006