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Lessons Learned Project on the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to Development


The guiding principle of a Human Rights Based Approach(HRBA), as outlined in the Stamford Common Understanding, is that all stages of the developmental process should be guided by internationally accepted human rights standards and norms. By adopting this approach, the process of development becomes an opportunity for the poor, marginalized, vulnerable and discriminated against to claim their human rights. This, in turn, makes development sustainable in the long run because its very foundations lie in the realization of human rights of all.

UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development cooperation agencies are increasingly seeing the value in adopting such an approach and are striving to implement it in their programs. While a few agencies have several years’ experience of using this approach, there is still significant misunderstanding about what it means in practice. There has thus been a consistent demand to highlight practical examples of how the HRBA has been applied in practice. Without this, such an approach to development will remain at the level of theory.

It was against this background that the UN inter-Agency Asia-Pacific Lessons Learned Project (LLP) was developed in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other agencies such as the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the New Zealand Aid Agency (NZAID) as a response to the UN Secretary General’s call on the integration of human rights policy and practice in all UN activities. This project concluded in October 2008.