Moving towards a rights based approach to EU development cooperation

It has been a long time since I wrote my last blog. I think it was exactly one year ago when I attended the 66th World Health Assembly. And now one year later I’m in Brussels and I would love to talk you through the biggest EU spring forum on human rights!

Each year the European Commission organizes a spring forum dedicated to the reality of human rights on the ground and in particular to the implementation of the European Instrument for Human Rights and democracy (EIDHR).

This year the forum was once again an excellent opportunity to exchange with the EU institutions and meet more than 300 NGOs from all over the world.

It is always so powerful to hear and feel the passion and the vibrating energy of each discussion across this Forum!

This year’s forum saw in particular the launch of the “EU Toolbox on a Rights Based Approach encompassing all human rights in EU development”. On behalf of Concord and as co-Chair of the Task Force on a Human Rights Based Approach, I was one of the panelist during the presentation of the toolbox. Other panelists included:

  • Ms. Wan-Hea Lee, Head of OHCHR Cambodia
  • Ms. Paola Simonetti, International Trade Union federation
  • Ms. Nele Meyer, Amnesty International

The lively debate, which followed the presentation of the toolbox, brought on the table interesting points on the implementation of the toolbox, amongst others: how do we ensure the participation of rights holders beyond Europe? And how do we empower them? And what’s the role for advocacy in the implementation of the toolbox?

All the panelists stressed the crucial role that the advocacy component can and will play in its implementation. In particular, it will be central to raise awareness and build the capacities of both duty bearers and rights holders. Although the toolbox gives a prominent role to transparency and accountability, we all called on the importance of holding duty bearers accountable, including Member States, and to define how and in how far.

2016 is foreseen as the first assessment of the toolbox.

Finally, the toolbox will be a great tool that will allow the further implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). In fact, the CRPD is not only referenced in the document, but I am also pleased to see that participation and non discrimination, access to information – including in accessible formats – and equal access to development are central to the document and its core principles.

Now I very much look forward to see how this tool, which for the time being is not yet binding, will be turned into practice and to what extent the focus on inclusive development will be kept in future trainings and workshops on the toolbox.

This is all by now, but you will read from me very soon, and next time around it will be from another part of the world…