The defence and protection of human rights are at the centre of the European Union's foreign action and international cooperation policy
Archive photograph of the Bridging the Gap project, one of the programmes noted for its human rights-based approach
The European Union (EU) is committed to defending human rights in its external relations, in accordance with its founding principles. It seeks to integrate human rights issues into all its policies and programmes; in addition, it has various instruments in the field of human rights aimed at ensuring that they are complied with, protected and respected.
In 2014, with the adoption of the EU Council conclusions on a rights-based approach to development cooperation, encompassing all human rights, a “toolbox” was approved, a working methodology which places human rights and rights holders at the centre of the EU’s external action.
With the approval of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, the EU has updated its 2014 toolbox.
The new financing instrument, the NDICI – Global Europe 2021-2027 also requires that a rights-based approach be adopted, encompassing all human rights, as a mandatory requirement in the planning and execution of all external policies, including international and neighbourhood cooperation.
The human rights-based approach (HRBA) subjects states and their institutions to obligations, with responsibility for respecting, complying with and protecting human rights. It focuses efforts on strengthening the capacities of people so that as rights holders they are aware of and able to claim and enjoy their human rights.
The application of this approach in international cooperation actions means that all interventions, policies and technical assistance must promote and contribute to the exercise of human rights of women, men and children, in all their diversity.
The HRBA is based in turn on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments, and the principles deriving from them guide all development programmes.
FIIAPP, a key player in Spanish and European cooperation, is committed to applying the HRBA to help ensure that EU foreign action leaves no-one behind and addresses the multiple and often crossed instances of-discrimination that people in vulnerable situations face.
The toolbox highlights the positive experiences in the application of the HRBA in the FIIAPP-led Bridging the Gap and EUROsociAL+ projects. Additionally, three new programmes, COPOLAD, PASCAL and CADAP, place the human rights approach as a central focus of intervention. The challenge for the coming months is to produce a guide and make it available to all FIIAPP projects in order to ensure that all actions incorporate the HRBA.
Applying the human rights-based approach to projects implies having a comprehensive vision when addressing people’s needs, the purpose of which will be to protect their rights and thus have a real impact on improving their living conditions.