Both the Brussels Declaration and the Programme of Action recognized that respect for all internationally recognized human rights, including the right to development, are essential in order to realize the vast and untapped human and economic potential in LDCs. The High Commissioner for Human Rights devoted a section in her report to the ECOSOC in 2001 (E/2001/64) to the human rights of persons living in LDCs, and participated in the Conference both in the plenary and the thematic sessions on governance, peace and security, stressing the indivisibility of human rights – civil, cultural, economic, political and social – and the relevance of human rights and rights-based approaches to development activities in LDCs.
OHCHR has been assisting LDCs in monitoring and implementing human rights at the country level, mainly through the joint HURIST programme with UNDP and support to independent national human rights institutions. Under HURIST, OHCHR and UNDP work together to assist developing countries, including several LDCs, in developing national human rights plans of action (Cape Verde and Nepal), making human rights assessments (Mali), mainstreaming of human rights in development activities (Uganda), and general capacity building through placement of UN volunteers (Cambodia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Somalia and Yemen). Furthermore, under its technical cooperation programme, OHCHR has provided assistance for needs assessment and training on human rights to several LDCs including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia and Sudan. In most of these countries, OHCHR is working closely with national human rights institutions established to protect and promote human rights.
There is a need to link national human rights plan of action with the national programme of actions for LDCs or poverty reduction strategies at the country level. Many LDCs have adopted NPAs or poverty reduction strategies which reflect, implicitly or explicitly, some international human rights norms. For example, the emphasis placed on civil society participation reflects the right of individuals to take part in the conduct of public affairs, as well as the associated rights of association, assembly and expression. The introduction of social safety nets resonates with the rights to a reasonable standard of living, food, housing, health protection, education and social security.
However, there is recognition that the broad macroeconomic objectives of the majority of the LDC poverty reduction strategies sometimes create tension with the poverty reduction goals, especially the Millennium Development Goals. The main challenge remains to integrate macroeconomic policy issues with broader social development goals, including the realization of human rights. Human rights approaches to poverty reduction strategies in LDCs promise a sound fulfillment of the commitments in the Millennium Development Goals. Human rights law provides a value system, a legal framework, monitoring mechanisms and realistic tools which can strengthen the effectiveness of the implementation of these goals. The core economic, social and cultural rights provide principles and operational strategies to address the problems of poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and slum dwellings.
For this purpose, OHCHR is preparing a draft guideline for the integration of human rights into poverty reduction strategies, which would assist Governments and development practitioners to use human rights approaches to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of development plans and strategies.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), adopted last July at the OAU Summit in Lusaka, is an African-led and African-owned initiative. It sets out a comprehensive vision of development, with a programme of action that embraces initiatives on peace and security, democracy and political governance, as well as economic and corporate governance which a commitment to regional and sub-regional approaches to development. Significantly, African countries recognized that, in forming partnerships for development with the industrialized countries in instituting increased levels ODA, capital flows and debt relief, they must to commit to, in their own words, “accountable government, a culture of human rights and popular participation”.
OHCHR continues to work closely with other UN agencies and regional partners in Africa to assist NEPAD countries, including many LDCs, in the practical implementation of their commitments in the area of human rights, as well as elaborating on the link between human rights and development. In this context OHCHR has organized two African Regional Dialogues (Geneva, November 2001 and Arusha, May 2002), which are designed as a vehicle for sharing and experience and ideas for promoting human rights and people-centred development.