Human rights including children rights
Since the end of the Cold War, some development assistance has been conditional upon the governments of partner countries respecting human rights. More recently, the concept of approaching development based on human rights has proposed strengthening the capacities of, on the one hand, the authorities responsible for monitoring human rights, and on the other, the capacities of those able to enforce them.
The new law on development cooperation sanctions the integration of Belgian development cooperation into a more human rights-based approach.
Indeed, since 2013 "Development co-operation incorporates the priority themes: 1° Human rights (including the rights of the child); 2° decent and sustainable work; 3° strengthening society" (art.11). The new law makes it possible to take account of all types of human rights (civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights and so-called 3rd generation rights), particularly the right to development in all its forms, which paves the way for consideration and action.
Belgian development cooperation has already significantly invested in the four sub-themes of human rights, namely women's rights (equal access to employment, political office, sexual and reproductive rights, etc.) the rights of the child, the right to decent work (social protection, equal pay for men and women, etc.) and the right to justice (provisional detention, access to justice, protection for victims and witnesses, etc.).
Belgian bilateral cooperation is able to encourage mainstreaming and cross-cutting, thus simultaneously reinforcing the sectoral and thematic approaches.
Furthermore, Belgium's dialogue on cooperation policies with partner countries also addresses, among other things, the human rights situation in the countries in question. This policy dialogue is broader and more concerted under the implementation of the Cotonou Agreement (EU/ACP 2000-2020) through its article 8, which makes respect for human rights a condition for aid.
Belgium makes a financial contribution to the general resources of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The OHCHR is the principal office of the United Nations responsible for promoting and protecting all human rights. As such, it guides international efforts in the area of human rights and delivers objective decisions on violations of these rights across the world. It can receive and investigate complaints submitted directly by victims of human rights violations and appeal to governments on victims' behalf.
Both approaches (mainstreaming/cross-cutting and reporting human rights violations) are complementary and can reinforce each other.
Rights of the child
Children and young people make up over half the population in developing countries. Due to their age and dependency, they often find themselves in a vulnerable position which is aggravated by poverty, inequality and discrimination. Consequently, children need particular attention in terms of protection and the defence of their rights (right to healthcare, food, education, protection against violence, registration of births, etc.). In addition, six of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) directly concern the situation of children.
Belgian development cooperation has been involved in protecting and promoting the rights of the child for several years. In the new law, the rights of the child are directly related to human rights and form part of this priority theme.
In operational terms, Belgian development cooperation contributes to the rights of the child via governmental cooperation in partner countries. It also contributes by supporting the many NGO programmes on the ground, whether these are specifically designed for children (street children...), or have a direct impact on children (access to drinking water...).
Multilaterally, UNICEF is the main partner of our cooperation. Through its mandate, it plays a unique global role, especially in developing countries to promote the implementation of the "Convention on the Rights of the Child". It targets its action on the ground in areas that are also important to our cooperation, such as monitoring the child and its development, basic education and gender equality, HIV/AIDS, protection against violence and exploitation and lobbying for the rights of the child.
Finally, protecting children in conflicts is also a priority. The DGD is providing practical support in this area, mainly via humanitarian aid and transition.
- Strategy paper: Respect for the rights of the child in development cooperation (PDF, 333.78 KB)
- EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child (PDF, 114.38 KB)
- UNICEF Website: www.unicef.org