What are Human Rights?

Human rights are the standards necessary for all persons to live in a free, equal, fair and dignified manner, and in peace. These rights are guaranteed for all persons without regard to race, colour, gender, language, religion, political view, national or other belonging, wealth, birth or other status. Human rights are based on the struggles fought against slavery, genocide, discrimination and state repression.

What Do Human Rights Organizations Do?

Human rights organizations work for the protection and development of human rights, and to end human rights violations. They carry out work both at state and society level to document rights violations, eliminate such violations, as well as secure justice and compensation for rights violations. They monitor state and government practices and work so that they comply with the principles of human rights.

What is a Human Rights-Based Approach?

According to the United Nations, a human rights-based approach (HRBA) is a conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. It seeks to analyse inequalities at the heart of development problems and redress discriminatory practices and unjust distributions of power that impede development progress. Over the long term, in a manner that includes vulnerable and excluded groups through anti-discrimination work to include the gravest rights violations, it aims to define and increase the responsibilities of persons and institutions in the fields of human rights, animal rights and environmental rights, the reinforcement of the framework to claim rights, and the participation of rights holders in the process.

General Framework

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) perceives human rights as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action states that democracy, development, respect for human rights and basic freedoms are interconnected concepts that reinforce each other.

In the UN Programme for Reform, which was launched in 1997, the Secretary-General called on all entities of the UN system to mainstream human rights into their various activities and programmes within the framework of their respective mandates. What follows is an attempt to arrive at such an understanding on the basis of human rights-based approach aspects that are common in the policy and practices of the UN bodies that participated in the Interagency Workshop on a Human Rights-based Approach in the context of UN reform 3-5 May, 2003.

The Statement of Common Understanding specifically refers to a human rights-based approach to the development cooperation and development programming by UN agencies.

In 2012, the European Union, also adopted the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy. Through this framework, the European Council published the 2015-2019 Action Plan. In 2014, the European Union decided its Rights-Based Approach would be used in all foreign aid and development processes. As a result of these decisions, a human-rights based approach was developed to be used in all types of work [projects]. The general framework of the EU Rights-Based Approach (RBA) is as follows:[1]

  • RBA helps deliver the principles of the indivisibility of human rights, respect for human dignity, equality in all work.
  • RBA is in line with the principles of ownership, transparency and accountability and inclusive partnerships.
  • RBA provides rights-based methodology for development processes.
  • RBA serves to align the human rights commitments of all parties.
  • RBA is key in ensuring that no one is left behind, and helps address multiple discriminations faced by people in vulnerable situations.

The Haklara Destek Program

The Haklara Destek Program is a grant scheme prepared with the financing of the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey and in partnership with Hafıza Merkezi (HM) and Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS), aiming to increase the capacity of rights-based organizations in Turkey to contribute to the development and institutionalization of human rights and democracy. 

This grant program is open to all applications and activities that strive to contribute to the strengthening of human rights and democratic values, and are based on the principles of fair competition, equal opportunity and transparency.

Our Rights-Based Approach

In its Rights-Based Approach, the Haklara Destek Program adopts the general framework of the UN and the EU. The human rights standards and principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights texts guide all its activities. These principles, which are referred to in the UN Statement of Common Understanding, and which guide the Program are explained below:

  • Universality and inalienability: Human rights are universal and inalienable. All people everywhere in the world are entitled to them. The human person in whom they inhere cannot voluntarily give them up. Nor can others take them away from him or her. As stated in Article 1 of the UDHR, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
  • Indivisibility: Human rights are indivisible. Whether of a civil, cultural, economic, political or social nature, they are all inherent to the dignity of every human person. Consequently, they all have equal status as rights, and cannot be ranked, a priori,  in a hierarchical order.
  • Interdependence and Interrelatedness: The realization of one right often depends, wholly or in part, upon the realization of others. For instance, the realization of the right to health may depend, in certain circumstances, on the realization of the right to education or of the right to information.
  • Equality and Non-discrimination: All individuals are equal as human beings and by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person. All human beings are entitled to their human rights without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, ethnicity, age, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status as explained by the human rights treaty bodies.
  • Participation and Inclusion: Every person and all peoples are entitled to active, free and meaningful participation in, contribution to, and enjoyment of civil, economic, social, cultural and political development in which human rights and fundamental freedoms can be realized.
  • Accountability and Rule of Law: States and other duty-bearers are answerable for the observance of human rights. In this regard, they have to comply with the legal norms and standards enshrined in international human rights instruments. Where they fail to do so, aggrieved rights-holders are entitled to institute proceedings for appropriate redress before a competent court or other adjudicator in accordance with the rules and procedures provided by law. 

In line with this approach, it is expected the general approach and activities of rights organizations that apply to the Haklara Destek Program comply with the principles below. In the event CSOs [civil society organizations] that have applied to the program are found to carry out activities in breach of these principles, their application will be rejected.

  • Carrying out not-profit, voluntary advocacy.
  • Independence from states, governments and political parties.
  • Defending the universality and indivisibility of human rights.
  • Opposing all manners of discrimination on the basis of race, language, religion, colour, gender, political view or similar reasons.
  • Defending the right to life for everyone, everywhere and under all circumstances, the right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, defending the right to free expression and organize.
  • Defending the rule of law, access to justice, and right to a fair trial and defence.
  • Opposing war and militarism, promoting tolerance and the right to peace.
  • Regarding and defending freedom of thought and faith as an unconditional right (Applicants, as a condition, must not carry out religious propaganda activities).
  • Unconditional defence of gender equality.
  • Avoiding mobbing and all kinds of violence and harassment that will violate the right to physical integrity of the person in the office, online environments, organized events and business trips; taking the necessary action to prevent these situations; based on the victim's statement when faced with these situations.
  • Recognition of national, minority and local identities.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sectors/rights-based-approach-development-cooperation_en