General human rights
The BMZ's human rights strategy
To further ensure the systematic mainstreaming of human rights in German development policy, in May 2011 the BMZ published its "Human Rights in German Development Policy" strategy paper. This paper adds to and takes further the development policy action plans for human rights for 2004 to 2010. In these action plans the BMZ had voluntarily pledged to orient development cooperation systematically toward human rights. At the same time the new strategy operationalises the German government's action plans for human rights in the development policy context.
The BMZ strategy contains binding instructions for shaping official development cooperation. This includes for instance preparing country strategies for bilateral development cooperation, and designing and implementing specific programmes. For the official implementing organisations (the GIZ, KfW, BGR and PTB) that plan and implement development measures on behalf of the BMZ, these instructions are binding. For business conducted by the KfW Development Bank and its subsidiary DEG, as well as GIZ and its business area International Services, at their own risk, the strategy serves as a standard. For civil society organisations such as churches or political foundations, and for the private sector, the strategy provides helpful guidance.
The German government's human rights-based approach promotes inclusive development. In many countries people in poverty, women, persons with disabilities, young people, members of indigenous peoples, and ethnic, religious or sexual minorities, are pushed to the margins of society. Human rights-based development cooperation aims to remove social barriers so that the rights of disadvantaged groups can be realised.
Accordingly, the human rights strategy is supplemented and made more specific by papers and guidelines that are oriented toward the rights of particular disadvantaged groups. In October 2011, for instance, the BMZ published its position paper "Young people in German development policy – a contribution to the implementation of the rights of children and youth". The BMZ is currently updating its strategy on gender equality, and plans to produce a development policy gender action plan for 2014-2017. The Action Plan for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (2013 – 2016) also supplements the BMZ's human rights strategy. A position paper on promoting the rights of indigenous peoples will be published by the end of 2013.
German development policy's human rights-based approach aims to raise awareness of human rights obligations in partner countries, and increase willingness to meet those obligations.
From the lessons learned in cooperation to date, the following strategies were developed:
- Policy coherence
Compliance with human rights at the national and international levels can only contribute to sustainable development if it is upheld through a whole-of-government approach that encompasses for instance trade, agricultural, environmental and education policy. Consequently, Germany encourages its partner countries to strengthen the human rights orientation of their poverty reduction programmes and reform strategies for specific sectors (water supply and sanitation, education, rural development, health).
At the same time, German, European and international policy-making must become more responsive to the concerns of developing countries.
Strengthening civil society and participation
Human rights can only be realised if civil society is involved in planning, decision-making and implementation processes. To enable state actors and civil society groups to perform their respective roles, German development cooperation strengthens structures for civil society, and supports human rights education as well as public information and lobbying/advocacy work on human right standards and principles.
Transparency and accountability
Human rights both require and reinforce structures that facilitate transparency and accountability. German development policy supports the establishment and consolidation of appropriate institutions.
Assessing human right risks and impacts
All measures of official bilateral development cooperation are subjected to a human rights impact and risk assessment. This is particularly important for infrastructure measures. For instance, the assessors verify whether the local population has been involved to a sufficient extent, and whether the infrastructure is fully accessible for persons with disabilities.
Business activity can help guarantee many human rights – such as the right to pursue gainful employment or the right to social protection. On the other hand, enterprises can infringe human rights for instance by failing to provide decent working conditions, through child labour, by violating trade union rights or by damaging the environment.
Germany supports partner governments in establishing structures under the rule of law that allow state regulation and supervision of corporate activity. In cooperation with the private sector the BMZ promotes the development of standards, guidelines and voluntary initiatives for responsible business.
Referring to a set of development policy criteria, the governance and the human rights situation is reviewed annually for each partner country in relation to five criteria. For instance, the review looks at whether the international human rights agreements have been translated into national law, and whether corresponding institutions and procedures have been created. The nature and scope of future development cooperation are then determined on the basis of the outcome of this review.
Germany's cross-cutting engagement for human rights is complemented by specific measures that focus on particular human rights deficits in the partner countries concerned. These projects aim to strengthen state and civil society structures and foster dialogue between the state and civil society, for instance through human rights education.
Human rights measures focus on creating enabling frameworks for civil society that allow local organisations to work without hindrance. Germany also supports measures to protect human rights defenders, who often face persecution as a result of their activities. In this connection the BMZ works closely with German non-governmental organisations.
- Working approach of the BMZ
- Players in Bilateral Cooperation between Germany and its Partner Countries
- Respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights – an international concern
- Institutions for the protection of human rights
- Issues: Good Governance
- Issues: Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- Guidelines on Incorporating Human Rights Standards and Principles, Including Gender, in Programme Proposals for Bilateral German Technical and Financial Cooperationnew window, PDF 621 KB 04/2014 | pdf | 621 KB
Human Rights in German Development Policy
BMZ Strategy Paper new window, PDF 484 KB, accessible 08/2011 | pdf | 484 KB | 29 P. | accessible
Human Rights in Development Policy – The rights of children and youth
Leaflet new window, PDF 471 KB, accessible 08/2012 | pdf | 471 KB | 8 P. | accessible
Human rights in practice: Fact sheets on a human rights-based approach in development cooperation
BMZ Information Brochure new window, PDF 1.4 MB, accessible 11/2010 | pdf | 1.4 MB | 28 P. | accessible
- Action Plan for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (2013–2015)new window, PDF 2.2 MB, accessible 06/2013 | pdf | 2.2 MB | 20 P. | accessible