IFAD, SECAP and Human Rights

By Elsie Fedha

We are all born with equal rights irrespective of our gender, our religion or our race. As humans, we are given a right to life, right to freedom, right to choice among many other rights. When the United Nations released its UN charter in 1945 and later its International Bill of Human Rights in 1948 it paved the way for member states and agencies. In 1945 the UN Charter was created and its primary purpose was to deal with the "…. problems of an economic,  social, cultural or humanitarian character…and encouraging respect for human rights…" (Article 1). In addition to the UN Charter, the International Bill of Human  Rights were created and played a crucial role in the purpose of the United Nations. 

As an enforcer of these rules and laws, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) monitors human rights across nations and publishes various documentation on the validity of countries implementation of human rights. OHCHR is an organisation that"… represent[s] the world's commitment to universal ideals of human dignity". According to OHCHR, they "…have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights"[1] OHCHR works as a reliable source to analyse the accuracy of a nations implementation of a treaty or a conventions.

Human rights is a fairly new concept, regardless of its  origins from the Magna Carta, it was introduced with the creation of the League of Nations which later became the United Nations. Today, OHCHR, among many other human rights agencies, plays a critical role in ensuring that human rights are respected among various nations and organisations.

Comparative Analysis of different human rights assessment approaches

Apart from nations, international organisations, particularly those a part of the UN system, have a responsibility to ensure that their work with either development or the economy is not in gross violation of any human rights principles. Institutions such as the Danish Institute of Human Rights, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have implemented various precautions and criteria that ensure that their work abides to international standards of human rights laws. The World Bank has an in-depth criteria entitled the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) and it goes into detail through nine steps on how to analyse the international, national and organisational legal framework in relation to human rights.

Since IFAD is still a growing organisation, in respect to social issues, the social policies already in place (such as the FPIC, SIA, ESMP)  do play a role in the monitoring of human rights. IFAD policies do address indigenous rights, women's rights and rights to land and a clean environment, which are the essential factors when addressing human rights. All these factors of human rights are addressed through the various IFAD policies such as Gender and Land or the SECAP Guidance Statements such as Water, and Physical and Economic Resettlement. The only aspect lacking within IFAD is human rights terminology. While IFAD is trying to remain away from political interference it is essential that human rights is addressed in its policies so as to abstain from any violations.

The following diagram is an example on how to incorporate human rights in relevant projects and ways to take on a human rights impact in our work.

Map of SECAP and a human rights approach

What we can learn and accomplish by taking on a human rights based approach is on how to take proper accountability and address the needs of a community in a more sustainable way. IFAD has a responsibility as an UN agency to carry out its work with a human rights mind-set.