Mainstreaming Human Rights in Development Policies and Programming: UNDP Experiences

Mainstreaming Human Rights in Development Policies and Programming: UNDP Experiences

November 1, 2015

UNDP's work is based on the belief that people experience poverty not only as a lack of income but also as a lack of education or health care or as a lack of dignity and participation in a community. These dimensions of people's lives are considered so important that governments all around the world have acknowledged them as entitlements - as human rights - of their people, both in international and in national law. So the fight against poverty in all its dimensions is not an act of charity but a matter of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights for all people.


UNDP encourages countries in their efforts to ground their national development programmes and policies in human rights – often referred to as ‘mainstreaming’ human rights - in particular by focusing on the principles of non-discrimination, participation and accountability. In practical terms, this means that UNDP supports government partners - the primary duty bearers - to design and implement national development and poverty reduction strategies that further the realization of rights of all people, particularly of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. UNDP also supports people – rights holders – in their right to participate in the development process. Examples from partner countries as well as tools and concepts on mainstreaming human rights can be found in UNDP’s publication “Mainstreaming Human Rights in Development Policies and Programming: UNDP Experiences”, a set of issues briefs now available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The issue briefs provide, for example, information on:


• Conceptual Framework – What does Mainstreaming Human Rights mean?
• Human Rights Bodies – What information does the UN human rights system produce on human development?
• Three-Step Problem Analysis
• Mainstreaming Human Rights into Development Policies and Programmes – An Initial Checklist
• Using Human Rights to Achieve the MDG Target on Water and Sanitation
• Case Study: Argentina
• Case Study: Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Case Study: Guatemala
• Case Study: Liberia


Much of UNDP's work in other focus areas also contributes directly or indirectly to mainstreaming human rights principles. For example: strengthening the statistical literacy of governments as data producers and civil society as data users is critical to assess and monitor the situation of marginalized and vulnerable groups. Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIAs) and economic governance arrangements can be used as a vehicle to involve people in the development process and to prevent negative impacts on vulnerable and marginalized populations. Access to justice ensures that people have formal and informal mechanisms to raise complaints and seek redress.


UNDP collaborates with other UN partners with complementary mandates, such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). UNDP is tasked with strengthening government capacities to deliver on their human rights commitments. This includes strengthening national human rights protection systems, engaging with the international human rights machinery and mainstreaming human rights into national development programmes and policies, including on poverty reduction.