: Human rights-based approach to development rejected in aid program

Human rights-based approach to development rejected in aid program

Philip Lynch
Human Rights

On 6 July 2011, the Foreign Minister announced a comprehensive new strategy for Australia’s aid and development program. The strategy was developed in response to the report of a major independent review of the effectiveness and efficiency of Australia’s program.

Launching the strategy, Minister Rudd outlined that ‘the fundamental purpose of Australian aid is to help people overcome poverty. This also serves Australia’s national interests by promoting stability and prosperity both in our region and beyond. We focus our effort in areas where Australia can make a difference and where our resources can most effectively and efficiently be deployed.’

Under the strategy, the government has developed five strategic goals for the overall aid program and defined ten specific development objectives that seek to give effect to these strategic goals. Regrettably, and contrary to the recommendations of many NGOs, the new strategy does not adopt, a human rights-based approach to aid and development. This is despite strong evidence that a human rights-based approach is empowering and can substantially enhance aid effectiveness and efficiency.

The ten development objectives include a commitment to strengthen civil society and to ‘improve security, enhance justice and human rights for poor people’. According to Minister Rudd, ‘human rights, for the first time therefore, has been formally included within the core development objectives of the Australian aid portfolio’.

PHIL LYNCH is Executive Director of the Human Rights 
Law Centre.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 202
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