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The main purpose of the HRBA is to empower boys, girls, men and women to claim their human rights (as rights holders) and to increase the capacity of those who are obliged to respect, promote, protect and fulfil those rights (as duty bearers).

Photo: Sida

methods and tools

Human Rights Based Approach at Sida

Updated: 29 September 2015

Sida’s methodological material on the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) includes information, tools and inspiration on how to integrate and apply this approach into Swedish development cooperation. The Human Rights Based Approach (called the rights perspective in Swedish policy) provides a legal ground and principles that guide Sweden’s work for people living in poverty.

The material includes a number of HRBA related information briefs on a range of issues. It is not only useful for Sida staff but also for our partners and other stakeholders.

It aims to achieve sustainable results through targeting root causes of problems, active and meaningful participation among those concerned, and ensuring a focus on persons in vulnerable situations.

Sida’s application of the HRBA entails a focus on both what human rights to achieve and how to do it in a way that is based on and leads to the four human rights principles of:

  • non-discrimination
  • participation
  • transparency
  • accountability

The main purpose of the HRBA is to empower boys, girls, men and women to claim their human rights (as rights holders) and to increase the capacity of those who are obliged to respect, promote, protect and fulfil those rights (as duty bearers). (See picture above.)

To make human rights a reality entails:

  • To respect: Human rights must not be violated by, for example, discrimination against certain groups of boys, girls, men and women in legislation or enforcement of laws.
  • To promote: Priority should be given to human rights and active steps taken to ensure that explicit consideration is given to the impact decisions have on people.
  • To protect: Laws must be enacted and mechanisms put in place that prevent violations of human rights.
  • To fulfil: Adequate measures must be taken to further the realisation of human rights – for example, by means of judicial action, government administration, capacity building and budgeting.


HRBA is based on the human rights found in national, regional and international laws, treaties and systems. Sida uses the abbreviation P.L.A.N.E.T. as a way of organising and remembering what to consider when applying a HRBA to development cooperation:

  • Participation: Is there active and meaningful participation of those involved - including opportunities for them to influence the formulation of problems, planning, implementation and follow-up?
  • Links to human rights: What links are there to human rights laws, treaties and systems (such as complaints mechanisms, courts and human rights bodies) at the national, regional and/or international levels? Are they sufficient, do they need to be revised or are they non-existent and need to be developed from scratch?
  • Accountability: Who are the duty bearers? Do they have the knowledge, mandate, resources and willingness to achieve their human rights obligations? Do rights holders know who the duty-bearers are and can they hold them to account?
  • Non-discrimination: Who are the rights holders? Have they been taken into account? Are people in vulnerable situations considered? Is discrimination actively counteracted?
  • Empowerment: What capacity do duty bearers have to fulfil their obligations and rights holders' to claim their human rights? Can their capacity be strengthened?
  • Transparency: Is information available in an accessible way to duty bearers and rights holders? Are they able to attend and observe meetings and processes where issues that affect them are discussed?

UN's understanding on HRBA

All the above is prominent in the United Nations' Common Understanding on HRBA (2003), which contains the following goal, process and outcome statements:

  • Goal: All programmes of development cooperation, policies and technical assistance should further the realisation of human rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.
  • Process: Human rights standards and principles guide all development cooperation and programming in all sectors and in all phases of the programming process.
  • Outcome: Development cooperation contributes to the development of the capacities (empowerment) of 'duty bearers' to meet their obligations and/or of 'rights holders' to claim their rights.

Sida´s application of HRBA

Sida´s briefs and tools on a HRBA in development cooperation can be downloaded and is structured as follows: Guidance on application of HRBA in various thematic areas; addressing and including gender equality; and addressing and including the human rights of children, LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities. The LGBTI and Disability briefs are available for almost all countries and regions where Sida is active.

Thematic areas:
- Education and Skills Development
- Environment and Climate
- Democratic Governance
- Health
- Market Development
- Peace Building
- Private Sector Collaboration
- Research
- Sustainable Rural Livelihood Systems
- Water and Sanitation
- Gender equality

Rights of persons with disabilities 
– briefs related to Sida programme countries/regions

Rights of LGBTI persons
– briefs related to Sida programme countries/regions

Children's rights

Page owner: Communication Unit

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