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New EU Member States are well-placed to promote human rights to development

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The respect and promotion of the human right to development is essential, for New EU Member States to become effective donors, says Minority Rights Group (MRG) today at a high-level panel on the European Development Days (EDD) in Warsaw, Poland. The human rights organization urges these new donors to shift from charity to development, using a rights-based approach.

Human rights are high on this year’s agenda of the EDD, the most prominent forum on international development cooperation, which brings together hundreds of political leaders and practitioners each year. It is being hosted by a New Member State, Poland for the first time in the history of the EDD.

Throughout the panel The human rights-based approach to development – Experience from the right to adequate housing, jointly organized with Amnesty International, experts from the EU and from the Global South demonstrated through examples from Kenya, that human rights are an essential tool for development: it places focus on the empowerment of communities and enables them to make human rights a reality rather than simply providing them with commodities.

'Human rights are much more than good slogans for development,' says panel member Neil Clarke, MRG's Head of Europe and Central Asia Programmes. 'It is a massive tool to achieve sustainable social change by involving even the most marginalised communities, minorities and indigenous peoples, in decisions and projects which affect their lives.'

New EU Member States are in particular well-placed to promote the linkage between human rights and development. They have substantive experience in democratization and civil society strengthening and have also recently been aid recipients who know how it feels when decisions are made over the heads of the local actors or aid is not allocated in the most efficient way.

'Marrying human rights and development makes it clear that it is the person who is at the heart of development,' says Esther Somoire, Director of Centre for Indigenous Women and Children, a participant from Kenya. 'If the community is involved from the beginning, we feel that the project belongs to us, and we can continue even after the donor has withdrawn.'

New Member States have limited financial and human resources for development cooperation and there is also low public awareness on the issues of the global South. MRG says, small aid and budgets are not an obstacle to do effective development if it centres around empowerment and inclusion of local actors, which makes the use of aid more sustainable. As they are in the process of creating new development policies, the rights-based approach provides an effective tool, to realise more effective and efficient aid and development.

The human right to development is a legal and political obligation of all EU Member States, the rights-based approach is also an approach successfully applied by a variety of major donors such as Denmark, Germany and Sweden. MRG urges the New EU Member States to explicitly integrate human rights into their official development policies.

Notes to editors:

Interview opportunities with panelists:

  • Neil Clarke – Head of Europe and Central Asia Programme
  • Esther Somoire – Director of the Centre for Indigenous Women and Children, Kenya, member of the Masaai minority group
  • Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law & Policy, Amnesty International

Check out our video with Esther Somoire on the human rights-based approach here.

Read more on development policies in Poland.

For further information or to arrange interviews contact:
Bernadett Sebály
M: +36 70 217 2601
email: press@minorityrights.org

Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.