Thematic Areas

Human Right Based Approach

Human Right Based Approach

Many Org that used needs-based approaches to development in the past have moved towards using a human rights-based approach, where participatory methodologies can be crucial to change the way in which programmes are designed, implemented and evaluation

The resource book Action for Global Justice in Practice (link to the full publication in the library) captures the accumulated learning of ActionAid and its partners in using Human Rights Based Approaches to development. Updated in 2020 this resource book explains the evolution of HRBA, the theory of change that underpins such an approach and the key ingredients for designing and implementing effective HRBA programmes.

HRBA starts from seeing poverty as a violation of human rights that arises because of the marginalisation and discrimination associated with human rights violations. Central to ending these violations is the active agency of people themselves, becoming conscious of their rights, organising and claiming their rights, and holding duty bearers to account. Whilst people’s agency is central, solidarity can play a crucial role to strengthen movements, and campaigning with allies is also essential to challenge the structural causes of poverty and injustice, shifting power at other levels.

HRBA depends on taking sides with people living in poverty and exclusion and supporting them to analyse and confront power imbalances, using the participatory methodologies and tools across this Reflection-Action website. But power comes in many forms and a crucial step is to better understand different forms of power: visible, invisible and hidden power. Below you can see short video introductions to each of these forms of power. The approach taken by ActionAid to challenging these forms of power is an inter-sectional feminist approach, guided by feminist values and a feminist vision.

Action for Global Justice in Practice articulates how HRBA can advance people’s rights, promote redistribution and build resilience. Each of these 3 Rs is also outlined below and has a short video illustration.




AN INTERSECTIONAL FEMINIST APPROACH: Many factors influence how someone is treated in society: racism, sexism, homophobia, transp…


HIDDEN POWER is exercised from behind the scenes by powerful people who are able to influence decisions and outcomes to their own…


INVISBILE POWER shapes the way we see the world. It includes the beliefs, habits and unwritten rules that are rooted in our histo…


REDISTRIBUTION: Wealth and power are presently skewed in favour of elites and both need to be redistributed in order to achieve j…


RESILIENCE: As disasters and conflicts increase humanitarian emergencies all over the world, exacerbated by the climate crisis, p…


RIGHTS: The State as a primary duty bearer needs to be held accountable for respecting and protecting human rights in ways that a…


VISIBLE POWER is exercised through formal rules, laws, structures and procedures such as parliaments, local governments and counc…


Have you used the Thematic Area in practise? To share information about a budget in a clear and simple way. South Africa and Uganda. Groups of women were.

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