New report on Human Rights-Based Approaches and EU Development Aid Policies

Poverty eradication is a major human rights challenge of the 21st Century. A decent standard of living, adequate nutrition, health care, education decent work and protection against calamities, are not just development goals – they are also human rights – UN Human Development Report 2000

A review of EU development policies launched today in Brussels finds that core EU development policies, including the European Consensus on Development, fail to coherently reflect the applicable international human rights framework and other core legal principles required of human rights based development, as outlined in 2003 in the UN Common Understanding regarding human rights based approaches (HRBA).

The review of key development policy documents, which was carried out in conjunction with consultation with a range of stakeholders, notes an increased use of human rights language in many EU development policies and welcomes some recent policy documents (eg regarding children) that coherently reflect the applicable international human rights framework.

However, deficiencies in other policies include failure to use human rights terminology with legal precision; misrepresentation of the relationship between policy commitments and legal obligations; failure to identify core development challenges, such as poverty as a denial of human rights. In particular, the EU overarching development policy framework, the European Consensus on Development fails to provide a clear and accurate policy commitment to human rights based development, or to acknowledge human rights as both the means and the goal of EU development assistance.

The briefing paper seeks to inform those responsible for formulating, applying and reviewing EU development policies on the internationally agreed legal principles which underpin HRBA and to ensure that they are clearly reflected in the development policies of the world’s largest development donor

Amongst the recommendations of the participating organisations is that future formulation processes and content of development policies should be subject to scrutiny for human rights based approaches, including legal accuracy. In addition, existing development policies should be interpreted so as not to undermine international human rights law obligations.

EU Member States, development partner states and all development stakeholders are urged to insist that EU development policies and programmes be coherent with international law obligations and adopt HRBA as the overarching framework for their advocacy.

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A joint initiative by

Launching panel
The report will be presented and discussed during a launching panel on Tuesday 7 October 2008, from 13:30 to 15:00, with a sandwich lunch served from 13:00

• Patrick Twomey, International Human Rights Network (author of the report)
• Anton Jensen, DG Development, European Commission
• Charles Michel Geurts, DG External Relations, European Commission
• Richard Howitt, Member of the European Parliament

Chaired by Paul Adamson, The Centre, Avenue Marnix 22, 1000 Brussels (Metro Trône).

The full report Human Rights-Based Approaches and European Union Development Aid Policies 2008 is available at:

For further information, please contact:

Salvatore Parata, Terre des Hommes International Federation, +32 (02) 2 743 87 96, [email protected]
Ivy Kakiiza, Actionaid International, +32 (02) 2 502 55 01, [email protected]
Natalia Alonso, Amnesty International EU office, +32 (02) 2 548 27 64, [email protected]
Patrick Twomey, International Human Rights Network, +353 49 8542934, [email protected]

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