B.3 Human Rights

The intrinsic relationship between human development and recognising, realising, protecting and promoting the human rights of people is a core element of the vision of ACFID and is one of the key values of the Code. Gender equality is a human right and has been identified as key to good development practice. Other human rights include the right to equality and freedom from discrimination generally, health, education, food, water, housing and freedom from torture.

Signatory organisations work with the understanding that the realisation of human rights is fully consistent with the achievement of aid and development and that conversely, the denial of rights, especially to vulnerable groups including women, children, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities, is an active barrier to their development. Development programming and advocacy are enhanced when their implementation is organised around human rights principles.

Section B.3 of the ACFID Code of Conduct includes four sets of Standards each with their respective Principles and Obligations. Standard B.3.1 requires signatory organisations to promote and adopt a human rights based approach to their aid and development activities. B.3.2, B.3.3 and B.3.4 more specifically require signatory organisations to respect and protect the human rights of vulnerable and marginalised people (B.3.2), include and address the human rights of people living with disability (B.3.3) and to protect and promote the safety and best interests of children (B.3.4).

Compliance with Standards B.3.1B.3.2 and B.3.3 and their Obligations is progressive. Compliance with Obligations 2 and 3 of Standard B.3.4 is progressive. This means that signatory organisations can work towards complying with these Obligations over a defined period of time. Signatory organisations are expected to have a plan to work toward meeting these Standards and Obligations and to monitor their implementation.
 

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B.3.1 Human Rights in Aid and Development

Principle

Signatory organisations’ aid and development activity will be informed by and implemented with an understanding of the human rights dimensions of the activity.

Obligations

  1. Signatory organisations will ensure that they provide a commitment to internationally recognised human rights principles within their organisation.
  2. Signatory organisations will ensure that their aid and development activities are consistent with respecting and protecting internationally recognised human rights including civil and political, economic, environmental, social and cultural rights.

Why

Human rights recognise the value of all people and are integral to achieving sustainable and equitable development. Gender equality is intrinsically linked to sustainable development and is vital to the realisation of human rights for all.

Aligning program work with agreed human rights obligations can enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of activities. It is important to remember however, in many contexts human rights are still contested and exist in an environment of unequal power and oppression – therefore, a human rights based approach is complex and while bringing benefits to the legitimacy and effectiveness of programs, it may also raise tensions in the contexts where we implement programs. 

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to: respecting, protecting and promoting the fulfilment of internationally recognised human rights including civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights and with particular emphasis on gender equality, the protection of children, people with a disability and the rights of minorities and vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Practical guidance

What is a human rights based approach?

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 
  • Legality

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

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

The summary below is gratefully adapted from materials from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Participation

  • 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

  • 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 based 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.

Empowerment

  • 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. 

Legality 

A human rights based approach requires that:

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

The strategies for embedding this commitment, and integrating human rights practice into your organisation, will vary according to many factors, such as the nature of your work, your size, relevant legislation, and funding agreements.

Below are some practical suggestions for your organisation to strengthen its human rights based approach: 

Governance

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

Reporting

  • 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

Policy

  • 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 

Programs

  • Integrate a rights based approach into programming, including program design and program evaluation
  • 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
  • Work with local stakeholders as equal participants to:
  • 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 women’s rights, children’s rights and peace building
  • 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

Emergencies 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.

Communications

  • 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.

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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B.3.2 Rights of Vulnerable and Marginalised People

Principle

Signatory organisations are committed to including and addressing the needs and rights of vulnerable and marginalised people and their representatives in all aspects of their aid and development activities. These groups may include women, children, people with a disability, Indigenous Peoples, minorities, refugees and displaced people, HIV positive people and those most at risk of HIV.

Obligation

  1. Signatory organisations will ensure that they respect and protect the human rights of people from vulnerable and marginalised groups and an appropriate focus is given to promoting these in their aid and development activities.

Why

The poorest people in almost any community tend to be those who are vulnerable and marginalised and have been targets of long-standing discrimination, exclusion and sometimes violence.

Poverty among vulnerable and marginalised people is both a cause and a manifestation of the diminished rights, opportunities, and social advancement available to the members of those groups. For aid and development to be sustainable, marginalised and vulnerable groups need secure and long-term access to the resources required to satisfy their needs, including economic, social, cultural, civil or political resources. Justice for these groups often comes far after other, dominant elements of society have advanced; part of our role is to reduce this gap.

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting the fulfilment of internationally recognised human rights including civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights and with particular emphasis on gender equality, the protection of children, people with a disability and the rights of minorities and vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Practical guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to promote the human rights of people from vulnerable and marginalised groups: 

Programs

  • Focus programs on the most vulnerable and marginalised – those most denied their rights including indigenous peoples, migrant workers, minorities, people with a disability, refugees and asylum seekers, children, the aged and women
  • Focus on the rights of vulnerable and marginalised people in project cycle management tools, agreements with partners, planning, and monitoring and evaluation tools
  • Identify vulnerable and marginalised groups and seek to understand the factors that exacerbate their vulnerability
  • Identify and address barriers to accessing services by marginalised and vulnerable groups
  • Ensure the participation, inclusion and representation of vulnerable and marginalised people and groups in decision-making
  • Regularly review who is participating in the project and who is missing out
  • Promote the ability of your staff and partners to speak local languages
  • Promote the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised groups as staff members
  • Work to make sure that these groups are not further victimised by their participation in our programs, through retaliation by other, dominant groups
  • Empower vulnerable and marginalised people to know their rights and demand equitable access to services.

Partners

  • Provide training and build the skills and knowledge of your staff, partners, stakeholders and civil society on:
    • The rights of vulnerable and marginalised groups
    • Effective advocacy for improving the lives of the vulnerable and marginalised
    • Responding to discrimination, violence, poverty and repression experienced by marginalised and vulnerable groups

Monitoring and reporting

  • Develop monitoring and evaluation systems that explicitly collect data related to vulnerable and marginalised groups
  • Report on progress on achieving this standard to your governing body and stakeholders in key documents such as in your Annual Report.

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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B.3.3 Working with People with a Disability

Principle

Signatory organisations are committed to including and addressing the rights of people with disabilities and their representatives in their aid and development activity.

Obligations

  1. Signatory organisations will ensure that an appropriate focus is given to understanding the rights of people with a disability and strategic plans to promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal participation on an equal basis with others in their aid and development activities.

Why

People with disability face many barriers to full participation in society, including to education and health services, employment, decision-making, and in family, community and political life. They are likely to face an increased risk of social exclusion, contributing to the higher rates of poverty which many people with a disability experience, particularly in developing countries. The World Report on Disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability. All aid and development organisations have an obligation and role to support the inclusion and rights of people with disabilities.

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting the fulfilment of internationally recognised human rights including civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights and with particular emphasis on gender equality, the protection of children, people with a disability and the rights of minorities and vulnerable and marginalised groups.
 

Practical guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to include and address the rights of people with disabilities and their representatives in your aid and development activities: 

Organisational and policy

  • Include disability as a priority issue in organisational development, policy dialogue, communications, negotiations and partnerships
  • Identify and address barriers to ensure persons with disabilities have equal access to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications systems, and to other public facilities and services in both urban and in rural areas
  • Prepare and implement an affirmative action plan to include people with disabilities as staff members
  • Advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities such as to local and national governments on institutional or policy barriers that prevent full inclusion of persons with disabilities
  • Mainstream disability in all sectors (including education, health, livelihoods, water and sanitation and disaster management), and include people with disabilities in line with the human-rights based approach and the rights articulated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • Recognise the central role that people with a disability play in representing their own interests and priorities; and accordingly develop and support partnerships with Disabled People’s Organisations in developing countries which play a vital role in giving people with disability a voice
  • Support initiatives to reduce the stigma that surrounds disability, which can be one of the largest barriers to full participation in community and economic life, and recognise marginalisation between impairment groups
  • Promote initiatives for economic empowerment and access to economic opportunities for people with a disability
  • Recognise that the lived experiences and perspectives of people with disabilities are diverse and will vary according to age, gender, class, caste, impairment type and other factors. Better understanding of this will contribute to effective approaches, which will differ in different contexts. 

Programs

  • In the design phase of any initiative, analyse the experiences of those with and without disability for that particular context
  • Take into account the interaction of gender and disability which means that discrimination, access and inequalities may be different between men and women, girls and boys, family members and carers
  • Use a strengths-based approach, focusing on people and organisational abilities, strengths and priorities and their efforts to achieve self-reliance
  • Promote and enable the active participation, inclusion and contributions by people with disability through the whole project cycle including:
    • Inclusion of people with disability into programming guidelines
    • Developing programme document templates for inclusion
    • Specific budget allocation to disability inclusion
  • Complement programs or initiatives with targeted, additional support and services to empower people with disabilities (such as programs that focus on children with a disability) and provide them with equal access and opportunities to empower them. Working in partnerships or through referral networks may be useful to do this.

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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B.3.4 Protection of Children

Principle

Signatory organisations are committed to the safety and best interests of all children accessing their services and programs or involved in campaigns, voluntary support, fundraising, work experience or employment and, in particular, to minimising the risk of abuse.

Obligations

  1. Appropriate to their circumstances and the extent of their contact with children, signatory organisations will have a documented Child Protection Policy and procedures for dealing with children, which are regularly reviewed. The Policy will be appropriate to the risk and address
    1. development programme planning and implementation;
    2. use of images and personal information for fundraising and promotion purposes;
    3. personnel recruitment including staff, volunteers, consultants and suppliers – in both Australia and overseas;
    4. all applicable legal obligations including mandatory police checks where available and appropriate for all personnel who have regular contact with children;
    5. behaviour protocols or codes;
    6. education and training of personnel and communication of the 
policy to all stakeholders; and;
    7. reporting procedures.
       
  2. Signatory organisations that work with children will seek ways to incorporate the voices of children in shaping the development programmes that affect them.
  3. Signatory organisations that work with children will ensure that their complaints handling processes are child friendly.

Why

The work of your organisation in both Australia and overseas, can impact directly and indirectly on the lives of children, even if it does not directly aim to benefit children. It is implicit in the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that signatory organisations will have taken all necessary measures to ensure the protection, safety and well-being of children. This is also a requirement of any organisation receiving funding from the Australian Aid Program.

This Principle and Obligation 1 is applicable to all signatory organisations. Compliance with Obligations 2, and 3 are applicable only to organisations that work with children and may be progressively achieved.

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to:

  • Building creative and trusting relationships with communities
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting internationally recognised human rights including the protection of children.

Practical Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to ensure the protection of children:

Organisational and policy

  • Create your own Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct
  • Report to your governing body on your actions to protect children
  • Designate a Child Protection Officer (or team) to be responsible for promoting child protection throughout your organisation, coordinating staff training, monitoring your compliance to relevant internal and external policies, and coordinating policy reviews and to serve as the central contact point for both internal and external queries about child protection issues
  • Educate staff and other stakeholders how to reduce risk and create child-safe environments
  • Develop communication guidelines that address child protection, particularly with respect to the use of children’s images and personal information
  • Establish clear reporting procedures on child protection to report suspected or known instances of abuse to relevant authorities. These should include clear guidance on internal and external reporting requirements for your organisation in Australia and in field offices.
  • Report suspected or known instances of child abuse to relevant authorities.
  • If your organisation receives Australian aid program funding, ensure you are fully aware of and compliant with the DFAT Child protection Guidelines and standards. 

Recruitment

To protect children, organisations must have appropriate recruitment procedures that are effectively applied in order to prevent people who may pose a risk to children from gaining employment, prevent them from targeting organisations that have weak or inconsistently applied procedures, and minimise the risk of child abuse being committed by a member of staff, volunteer or consultant.

To ensure your recruitment procedures protect children, you can:

  • Promote a commitment to child safety on your website, in promotional materials and in all job advertisements
  • Assess all positions for the level for risk in relation to contact with children. Applicants to positions working directly with children should possess relevant qualifications and experience in working with children, and be subject to the highest level of screening.
  • Confirm the identity and work history of applicants
  • Require a minimum of two reference checks for all preferred candidates. For positions working directly with children, reference checks should include questions about the applicant’s suitability to work with children.
  • Ask specific questions on child protection during the interview
  • Check appropriate professional registers
  • Require all appointees to read and sign your Child Protection Code of Conduct
  • Check criminal and police records for all your preferred candidates. If staff, volunteers or consultants are Australian residents, use the police check from the Australian Federal Police.
  • Where a police check cannot be obtained, undertake all reasonable measures, such as background and reference checks, to ensure the candidate does not pose a risk to children. These candidates should be required to sign an Employment Declaration stating that they have not been convicted of a serious sex offence or child-related personal violence. 

Fundraising and volunteering

Your organisation’s representatives may come into contact with children in a variety of contexts, including through fundraising and volunteering activities. Some examples include:

  • Volunteer assignments, such as field visits and work, where volunteers engage directly with individuals, organisations or communities overseas.
  • Volunteer speakers in schools.
  • Community fundraising events that children attend.
  • Children who undertake fundraising activities.
  • Supporter visits, where donors have contact with children in homes, institutions or community settings.

Policies

  • Orientation and ongoing training should be provided to staff and volunteers on child protection policy and procedures
  • Child protection should be included within risk assessments as part of the planning process for all activities involving children, including supporter visits to schools and overseas communities
  • Any person who has contact with a child or information about children should be required to sign a Child Protection Code of Conduct
  • Children’s personal data, in particular contact details, should be held securely and only accessed by authorised staff. 

Preparation

  • Fundraising in schools should be undertaken in accordance with appropriate guidance from professional bodies
  • Children undertaking fundraising activities should be advised on how to do so safely, both for their own protection and regarding more general health and safety
  • Parents, guardians and event or activity organisers should be briefed before the activity.

During the activity

  • There should be no unsupervised access to children. A parent, teacher, other member of staff or other adult must also be present.
  • Parents, guardians and event or activity organisers should take responsibility for the child engaging in the activity.

Partners

  • Recognise that your organisation will most likely work with partners who have direct contact with children in their work.
  • Recognise that the notion of child protection is understood in different ways in different cultures and contexts.
  • Undertake extensive discussion, training and collaboration with partner organisations to support them to develop their own child protection policies and procedures that are appropriate to the context and nature of their work and which meet the requirements of this Code. 
  • In settings where child protection and risks are not well understood or socialised, consider investing more substantially in working with partners and other duty bearers to increase awareness and knowledge.
  • Provide partners with your organisations child protection policy and code of conduct
  • Ensure reference is made to the risks associated with child protection in all partnership agreements or equivalent documents.   

Programs

  • Undertake risk assessments of perceived and potential risks to children in all programs and initiatives.
  • Integrate child protection into your project cycle management guidelines and tools such as progress and monitoring report templates to ensure child protection issues are considered at each stage of the project cycle.
  • Consider how to strengthen protective factors and minimise risk factors for children when designing and implementing activities.
  • Establish review mechanisms that minimise the possibility of program activities exposing children to greater risk.
  • If undertaking humanitarian response, provide information and training for staff and partners on the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Emergencies and establish mechanisms to monitor compliance.
  • Provide opportunities for children to share their views, experiences and ideas to inform and set the direction for your initiatives and projects.
  • Provide opportunities for children to provide both positive and negative feedback on the outcomes of projects on their lives.

Encouraging Children’s Engagement

Children’s voices should help to shape programs that affect them. The rationale for doing so includes:

  • To recognise that children can be vulnerable and face barriers to which may hinder them making complaints; they require a unique approach to handling their concerns.
  • To recognise and address that children communicate and need to be communicated with in different ways to adults.
  • To provide opportunities for children’s participation.
  • To facilitate children to freely engage with the organisation to discuss their problems.
  • To hear children’s’ experiences of your organisation and projects and to reflect on activities from their point of view
  • To demonstrate accountability to the donors, partners and stakeholders
  • To make contact, build relationships, provide feedback and share information with children
  • To improve programming and performance
  • To identify violations of children’s rights.

Develop child-safe and child-friendly ways for your organisation to hear those voices in the following ways:

  • Ensure the mechanism is led by people with skills working with children, including child friendly ‘interviewing’ skills, active listening, tolerance and patience.
  • Use a place known to children, easily accessible, safe and where confidentiality is guaranteed.
  • Be informed by children’s ideas, needs and preferences
  • Treat children with respect, understanding and calm, and allow them to freely share their feedback and concerns
  • Use simple, clear and understandable language and approaches
  • Allow adequate time for children to communicate or make a point.
  • Be happy and positive and show kindness to the child and a willingness to help.
  • Use visual materials or images so that younger children understand.

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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