Cyprus can become an effective donor despite limited resources for development cooperation, says MRG
Cyprus can develop into an effective donor by placing human rights and people in the centre of its development cooperation, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in its landmark policy paper launched on Friday in Budapest, Hungary. The organisation offers a new approach to development to Hungary, Poland and Cyprus which can contribute to the fulfilment of their obligations as emerging donors.
MRG is publishing its paper The Human Rights-based Approach: A More Effective Framework for International Development Policies in New EU Member States before the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which is held in Budapest between 16-18 May as part of the Hungarian EU Presidency Programme.
"Human rights and development are closely interrelated and mutually reinforcing. This approach is a 'lens' for looking at development as the fulfilment of rights of people in need," says Zsófia Farkas, MRG's Human Rights and Development Officer.
"Tackling isolated infrastructural problems, such as building a well without asking the community and without strengthening their ability to claim their right to water later on will not lead to meaningful interventions," adds Farkas.
Hungary, Poland and Cyprus are fairly new donors to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries with limited resources and limited public awareness of the importance of development cooperation, MRG says. The lack of an official development policy in these countries can result in aid that is fragmented, ad-hoc and largely guided by individual preferences.
As all EU donors, Cyprus should be shifting focus from the provision of specific commodities and services to the poor to empower people through participation and focus on rights rather than needs, says MRG.
"Our Maasai community in Kenya knows from first-hand experience the root causes of poverty. We have formed civil society organisations, and donors can build on our local knowledge," says Esther Somoire, Director of Centre for Indigenous Women and Children, Kenya.
Hungary, Poland and Cyprus are still in the process of establishing its aid frameworks and the rights-based approach is a tool to overcome their challenges and capitalize on their expertise by mainstreaming human rights in development cooperation, the policy paper concludes.
These countries should take advantage that they have recently been recipients of development assistance because they know well the importance of human rights and participatory assistance.
The policy paper notes that its experience in working on peace and reconciliation puts Cyprus in an advantageous position to mainstream human rights.
The human rights-based approach is widely used by European Union governments involved in development cooperation, such as those of Sweden, Denmark or Germany.
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