Commitment 1.1:
We respect and protect human rights

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided.

1.1.1 Members demonstrate an organisational commitment to human rights.

Policy, statement or guidance document which commits Members to human rights, noting that human rights are for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, indigeneity, disability, age, displacement, caste, gender, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, poverty, class or socio-economic status.


At the most basic level, Members will have a formal statement that commits them to respect, protect and promote internationally recognised human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, indigeneity, disability, age, displacement, caste, gender, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, poverty, class or socio-economic status.

Agency ABC might have the following statement:

Agency ABC is an international development agency that respects, protects and promotes human rights for all, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, indigeneity, disability, age, displacement, caste, gender, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, poverty, class, or socio-economic status.
At a more advanced level, Members will outline their commitment to human rights through a policy and/or guidelines.

1.1.2 Members contribute to the realisation of human rights in their development and humanitarian initiatives.

Development and humanitarian initiatives show evidence of linkages to the realisation of human rights.


Aligning development and humanitarian initiatives with the realisation of human rights obligations enhances the legitimacy and effectiveness of our work. This does not mean that program or initiative goals to need to be expressed from a human rights perspective, but that Members should be able to show the linkages between their work and the realisation of human rights. For example, a program focusing on maternal health can be linked to sexual and reproductive rights. A table of the linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals and related human rights can be downloaded in the Resources Section below.

For those members who take a human-rights based approach to their work, they may frame their initiatives from a rights-based perspective that emphasises building the ability of rights-holders to claim their rights and build the capacity of duty bearers to fulfil human rights.


1.1.3 Members protect primary stakeholders from discrimination, violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect based on an analysis of the context in which they are working.

Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of strategies towards protecting primary stakeholders from discrimination, violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect as relevant to the context.


Through good analysis of the context in which they are working, Members can identify the risks that primary stakeholders face with regards to discrimination, violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect and develop strategies to prevent or mitigate this. Members must do all they reasonably can to avoid exposing people to further harm, for example not building settlements for displaced people in unsafe areas and maintaining confidentiality for non-heterosexual stakeholders in areas where non-heterosexual sex is criminalised.


Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators.

While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • A human rights or rights based approach is integrated into programming.
  • Training is provided to staff and volunteers on a rights based approach to development.
  • Periodic evaluation and reflection on their rights based approaches is undertaken.
  • Information about issues relating to human rights is promoted to the public and external stakeholders.

Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time.

What is a human-rights based approach?

One way of understanding a human rights approach is to see our role as:

  • Helping to build the ability of rights-holders to claim their rights; and
  • Helping to build the capacity of duty bearers to fulfil the rights of their citizens.

A human rights approach will vary depending on the nature of the organisation concerned and the issues it deals with. Common principles, however, have been identified as the “PANEL” principles: Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination and equality, Empowerment and Legality. The summary of these principles below is gratefully adapted from materials from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.


Everyone has the right to participate in decisions that affect them and their human rights. Participation must be active, free and meaningful, and give attention to issues of accessibility, including access to information in a form and a language which can be understood.


Accountability requires effective monitoring of compliance with human rights standards and achievement of human rights goals, as well as effective remedies for human rights breaches. For accountability to be effective, there must be appropriate laws, policies, institutions, administrative procedures and mechanisms of redress in order to secure human rights.

Effective monitoring of compliance and achievement of human rights goals also requires development and use of appropriate human rights indicators.

Non-discrimination and equality

A human-rights approach means that all forms of discrimination in the realisation of rights must be prohibited, prevented and eliminated. It also means that priority should be given to people who are the most marginalised and vulnerable and face the biggest barriers to realising their rights.


Everyone is entitled to claim and exercise their rights and freedoms. Individuals and communities need to be able to understand their rights, and to participate fully in the development of policy and practices which affect their lives.


A human-rights approach requires that:

  • The law recognises human rights and freedoms as legally enforceable entitlements
  • The law itself is consistent with human rights principles.


  • Analyse the way that your existing aims and objectives are underpinned by human rights principles, whether or not expressed in these terms
  • Include human rights as a key part of your mission statement
  • Integrate human rights into your development goals and objectives in governance, strategy and programming
  • Become familiar with and raise awareness of internationally recognised human rights principles
  • Consider human rights in strategic planning and management decisions
  • Recognise women’s rights and the sexual rights of all individuals as fundamental human rights
  • Recognise children as distinct holders of their own rights


  • Regularly report to your governing body and broader constituency on human rights issues to embed a commitment to human rights within your organisation
  • Develop performance indicators to monitor how your operations impact on human rights
  • Regularly review performance indicators and assessment against the indicators


Demonstrate your commitment to internationally recognised human rights principles through developing policies that address key human rights. These policies should:

  • Support the principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination and empowerment
  • Link your policy to international human rights standards
  • State that rights are inalienable, indivisible and universal
  • Commit to respect, protect and promote human rights and to avoid complicity in human rights abuses
  • Be relevant and specific to the organisation’s operations
  • Include how the policy applies to all of your stakeholders
  • Link to other relevant internal and external laws, policies, codes and guidelines


  • Integrate a rights-based approach into programming, including program design and program evaluation. This will require paying careful attention to whose rights are not being upheld, in the context within which you work.
  • Conduct situational analyses of the human rights situation where your program is located to inform development objectives and priorities
  • Undertake gender and power analysis in the design phase of any program
  • Recognise that human rights are inalienable and ensure programs assist stakeholders realise a greater scope of rights and do not cause right regressions (e.g. fulfilling a child’s right to education by placing a child in residential care and therefore violating their right to be raised in a family).
  • Negotiate the terms, objectives and direction of any program so that it genuinely reflects the community’s wants and needs
  • Determine human rights objectives of the program
  • Develop ways to empower local communities and monitor and evaluate progress
  • Mainstream human rights as a cross-cutting issue in project cycle management
  • Ensure meaningful local stakeholder participatory processes and consultations throughout the life of the program

Specific human rights activities

  • Contribute analysis to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) undertaken by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. This review of the human rights record of every member of the UN is done once every four years.
  • Advocate for non-state actors, such as the private sector and multinational companies, to be bound by human rights standards
  • Fund human rights education programs
  • Undertake specific human rights projects or programs such as training programs or activities for the rights of women; lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans people and other sexual minorities; indigenous peoples; migrant workers; minorities; people with a disability; refugees; asylum seekers; children; or the aged.
  • Provide human rights training to staff and partners
  • Invest in research on particular human rights issues
  • Advocate to governments to make changes to law, policy or practice to better support human rights
  • Facilitate the discussion of human rights in local communities
  • Support human rights advocacy at the local or international level
  • Support emergency responses and protection work
  • Develop and implement a strategy for consulting with communities to identify human rights issues in emergency response and ‘protection’ work
  • Develop opportunities to empower partners and communities
  • Ensure that the design and delivery of services meets the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised and considers risks arising from people’s participation and engagement.


  • Take advantage of your role in shaping the views of stakeholders by promoting human rights principles in your organisation’s work.
  • Use clear, accessible and consistent messages, information and resources targeting a wide range of stakeholders in our sphere of influence – including rights-holders, broader communities, other organisations, government departments and the media.
  • Promote communications mechanisms through which your partners and stakeholders are able to make comments, suggestions and complaints
  • Provide human rights information in external newsletters and on your website
  • Develop stakeholder advisory panels to establish better dialogue with program beneficiaries and the broader community
  • Include human rights language in advocacy work with other agencies, and in submissions to government consultation processes.

ACFID Resources

ACFID Human Rights Practice Note

This practice note aims to provide a possible definition of human rights-based approaches, and to outline tools ...

ACFID Rights in Sight

Rights in Sight, is the result of a study commissioned by a group of ACFID members into Australian aid and ...

Blog on Rights-Based Approaches (Spotlight on the Code)

There are mixed feelings of many within the aid and development sector about the usefulness of Rights-based ...

Measuring Social Change: Principles to Guide the Assessment of Human Rights-Based Approaches to Development

This briefing paper seeks to provide practitioners with principles on how to work best, in the context of their ...

Other Resources

CEDAW and the human rights based approach to programming: a UNIFEM guide

This guide consolidates insights and experiences gained by UNIFEM in terms of the implementation of human rights ...

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment

Outlines the UN's Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN ...

Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human ...

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Oultines the UN's Convention on the Rights of a Child.

Convention relating to the Status of Refugees

The United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in 1951, is the centrepiece of ...

From Principle to Practice: Implementing the human rights based approach in community organisations

This guide offers a conventional management system initially developed to assist businesses to implement human ...

Human rights based programming: what is it/how to do it

This Manual provides step-by-step guidance on how to apply a culturally sensitive, gender responsive, human ...

International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Outlines the UN's International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) is the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of ...

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

This page outlines the UN's International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and ...

International Covenant of the Rights of Indigenous People

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Outlines the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Joint UN Statement on Ending Violence and Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People

A Joint Statement on Ending Violence and Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People.

Learning Paper – Faith, sexual orientation, gender identity and the ACFID Code of Conduct

This Paper reports on an action learning project undertaken by the Sexual Rights in Development Community of ...

Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse taskforce

This website provides information, tools and guidance on the subject of protection from sexual exploitation and ...

Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights

Presentation relating the sustainable development goals to human rights.

Universal Declaration on Human Rights

This Universal Declaration of Human Right as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, ...

Yogyakarta Principles

The Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.


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Annual Report 2022-23

Reporting on ACFID’s activities to ensure transparency and accountability


ACFID is the peak body for Australian NGOs involved in international development and humanitarian action.


ACFID works and engages with a range of strategic partners in addition to our members.


ACFID is governed by its Board, ACFID Council, and various expert and governance committees.


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Conference 2023

disruptive dynamics, inspired ideas

18-19 October 2023

Meet our Members

The ACFID membership is comprised of Australian NGOs that actively work in the international aid and development sector.

Become a member

Joining ACFID means joining an experienced and powerful mix of like-minded organisations committed to good international development practice.

Membership types & fees

ACFID has two types of organisational membership: Full Membership and Affiliate Membership.

State of the Sector

The State of the Sector Report provides a comprehensive and robust analysis of the state of the Australian aid and development sector.

NGO Aid Map

ACFID’s NGO Aid Map allows the Australian public and stakeholders to explore the work of ACFID Members around the world.

Development Practice Committee

The DPC is an expert advisory group of development practitioners leading good practice within the sector.

Our Focus

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Federal Budget 23-24 Analysis

Facts and figures on how aid is presented in this year’s annual budget

Strategic Plan

ACFID prioritises a robust response to climate change and pressure on civil society in developing countries, as well as other key priorities.

Emergency Aid

ACFID Members provide vital life-saving assistance in the immediate aftermath of an emergency.

Climate Change

Action on climate change is one of ACFID’s highest priorities, as it is an existential threat to humanity and our development.

Civil Society

Civil societies are a cornerstone of regional stability and ensure that the voices of the marginalised are heard.

Supporting NGOS

Supporting NGOs as Valuable Partners.

Inclusive & locally led development

Walking the talk on inclusive development.

Humanitarian Action

Taking humanitarian action for those in greatest need.

Elevating Development

Elevating Development to the Heart of Australia’s International Engagement.


Improving standards, practice and culture to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.

Code of Conduct

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2022-23 ACFID Code of Conduct Review

The ACFID Code of Conduct is periodically reviewed to ensure it continues to reflect good practice and the needs of ACFID and its members.

Code of Conduct

The Code is a voluntary, self-regulatory industry code of good practice.

About the Code

Find out more about the Code of Conduct and how it operates.

Good Practice Toolkit

Overview and practical resources, and examples to support the implementation of the Code.

Spotlight on the Code

Provides a thematic ‘deep dive’ into each of the nine Quality Principles in the Code


This section outlines the responsibility to be taken by each Member to ensure compliance with the Code.

Complaints Handling

How to make a complaint and information on the Code’s independent mechanism to address concerns relating to an ACFID Members’ conduct.

Other Standards

Mapping the Code with other professional standards and principles in the humanitarian and aid sector in Australia and internationally