Human Rights Fieldwork: partnership, participation and accountability
Since 1995 IHRN has advocated a vision of
international human rights fieldwork which reinforces, rather than
replaces, host society efforts; and which demonstrates the importance
of participation by the way it acts - the way it chooses priorities,
designs its work and is accountable for its impact. Two key concepts
are explored in the field research below: partnership and participation.
Towards Partnership for Effective Human Rights Fieldwork
questions the fieldwork paradigm which effectively excludes the
host society from decision-making and marginalises economic, social and
cultural rights - whose violation are often root causes of conflict. In
that paradigm, there continues to be a lack of accountability for
actual human rights impacts.
Towards Partnership formed the basis for
discussions in five sample countries by the International Human Rights
Trust over two years. The aim was to stimulate and support discussion
regarding the effectiveness of the human rights fieldwork the
countries’ had hosted: Colombia, Burundi, El Salvador, Guatemala and Rwanda.
Several common themes emerged which question the relevance and
sustainability of the current model of international human rights
intervention as well as the continuing lack of accountability for human
rights impacts (see results in publication which follows below).
Towards Partnership for Effective Human Rights Fieldwork, by Karen Kenny.
English - Summary or Full Text,
French - Summary and Full Text,
Spanish - Summary or Full Text.
The Right to Participate in International Human Rights Fieldwork
In this field research, for what may have been the
first time, voices of the host societies (in whose name major
international human rights interventions were conducted) have been
brought directly to international decision-makers. After discussions in
five countries, the common themes which emerged were directly presented
by host society actors to an international forum in Geneva convened
specifically for this purpose by the International Human Rights Trust
(see previous publication, Towards Partnership).
The Right to Participate in International Human Rights Fieldwork, contains the questions raised by voices in Colombia, Burundi, El Salvador, Guatemala and Rwanda.
“Why are concepts basic to sustainable development (such as
participation) not systematically applied in human rights fieldwork?”
The host society voices question the impact and sustainability of the
current model of human rights fieldwork which they see as failing to
address impunity, as excluding economic, social and cultural rights and
gender analysis - as well as marginalising the very society in whose
name it purports to act.
In 2002, donors funding the OHCHR Office in Colombia
sought to evaluate the human rights impact of its work in light of
questions such as these. This is apparently the first time an
independent, participatory evaluation of human rights fieldwork has
been commissioned. Canada was focal point for the evaluation and other
participating donors were Spain, USAID, Norway, Sweden and
Switzerland. Led by Karen Kenny the team included Jorge Taiana
(formerly Secretary General of the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, Patty Abozaglo (of Trócaire development NGO) and Grahame
Morphey (of Chrysalis Management Solutions). The report is not a public
The Right to Participate in International Human Rights Fieldwork, by Karen Kenny.
Available in English - Summary or Full Text.