Human rights

Human rights approach

How to empower people to claim their rights and have greater opportunities to participate in the decisions that affect them

An overview

A HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACH is about empowering people to know and claim their rights and increasing the ability and accountability of those who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights. It is about ensuring that both the standards and principles of human rights are integrated into policy making and the running of groups and organisations.

What are human rights?

Human rights aren’t just a ‘nice thing to do’, they are our non-negotiable rights. We deserve to live without stigma and discrimination. They are secured in law. At the individual level, while we are each entitled to our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others.

What are the benefits of a human rights based approach?

This approach gives people more opportunities to participate in shaping the decisions that impact on their human rights. It also increases the ability of those with responsibility for fulfilling rights to recognise and know how to respect those rights, and make sure they can be held to account.

 

What are the challenges?

Understanding and interpreting

  • Sometimes, there is a lack of shared understanding of this approach, and without a mutual understanding of the language and principles of a human rights based approach, there cannot be fulfillment.
  • Rights are constantly interpreted depending on social attitudes and how they evolve
  • For some people, human rights can be seen in deficit, in terms of what has been taken away. This is particularly relevant in mental health settings where rights to freedom and family may feel more at risk.

Buzz word

  • It can often feel as if this term is tokenistic the mental health field – and focus tends to be on legal aspects such as mental health tribunals, but that’s only a small part of the bigger picture. Human rights are part of everyday life. However, as the term becomes more popular and a prerequisite for funding opportunities, will people use the language without understanding the meaning and impact?

 

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 Using the PANEL principles as a framework or guide for discussion can be helpful. We think it’s productive to apply them to people’s whole lives and experiences in a holistic approach. Most importantly, the principles need to be really engaged with in practice to make a difference.

 

Are we experts? People do not need to be experts in human rights laws and conventions to live the values of a Human Rights Based Approach.

Conversation: There isn’t an ‘exact science’ of Human Rights Based Approaches, but having ongoing dialogue about the principles and values of working together is a good place to start.

 

What are the challenges?

 

Shared Understanding

Sometimes, there is a lack of shared understanding of this approach, and without a mutual understanding of the language and principles of a human rights based approach, there cannot be fulfilment.

 

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Interpretation

Rights are constantly interpreted depending on social attitudes and how they evolve.

 

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Keeping Hold of Rights

For some people, human rights can be seen in deficit, in terms of what has been taken away. This is particularly relevant in mental health settings where rights to freedom and family may feel more at risk.

 

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Buzz Words

It can often feel as if this term is tokenistic the mental health field – and focus tends to be on legal aspects such as mental health tribunals, but that’s only a small part of the bigger picture. Human rights are part of everyday life. However, as the term becomes more popular and a prerequisite for funding opportunities, will people use the language without understanding the meaning and impact?

 

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Learn more about adopting a human rights based approach