Human rights – a guideline for project work
We understand human rights to be an integral component of sustainability and part of our corporate values. We are committed to equal economic and social participation opportunities for all and to social dialogue. We are aware that the contexts in which we work are sometimes challenging, and we carefully review how we can shape our projects in a way that is sensitive to human rights.
As a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development, GIZ helps its partners around the globe to strengthen human rights. On behalf of the German Government and other commissioning parties, we implement projects that are intended to improve the human rights situation on the ground. As part of our projects, we train public and civil society stakeholders on human rights standards and principles and help our partners to allow all people to participate in political, economic and societal life.
We would like to present two such projects here:
Achieving changes for people with people
Reaching people is the central mission of the regional project Social Rights for Vulnerable Groups in the Western Balkans. Many people in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia do not have equal access to social services, such as health and social care and education. A majority of them are part of the Roma community, which also finds itself the victim of multiple social marginalisation. Funded by BMZ, the Social Rights for Vulnerable Groups project seeks to improve the living conditions of people from socially disadvantaged groups as well as fostering inclusive societies.
To achieve this, the project works with centres for social work, local authorities and non-governmental organisations and promotes cooperation among them. It supports the provision of information and raising of awareness of basic rights and social services for all, and explores options for financing social initiatives in partnership with the private sector.
In 2018, the project established and supported several social enterprises to create jobs for disadvantaged people and secure long-term funding for local providers of social services. Agroplan, a greenhouse for fruit and vegetables, was created in Bijeljina in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the catering firm eSHpis was set up in Pristina, Kosovo. The project also supports two other initiatives of this kind in North Macedonia and Serbia.
In North Macedonia, the project promotes innovative approaches to outreach work. A cooperation arrangement between municipal authorities and non-governmental organisations allows mobile teams made up of social workers and a doctor to be deployed. These teams drive to communities to assist people on the ground. The fact that the doctor is himself a member of the Roma community builds bridges and trust. In Albania, the project supports an interdisciplinary counselling centre to protect disadvantaged and neglected children. These children live on the streets and try to earn a bit of money there. Day care centres give them a healthy meal, a roof over their heads and human attention. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a young worker from a mobile help desk advises Roma families on their rights and entitlements and tries to convince parents to send their children to school. In Kosovo, the project supports multidisciplinary work groups in six pilot communities that focus on advising and referring disadvantaged groups, including returnees, to the relevant bodies. In Serbia, the focus is on making social services more efficient by digitalising data from social services departments and municipalities.
Where people do not apply for social services because they do not know about them, are afraid to make use of these services or are marginalised, the project allows them to receive advice and support and experience openness and empathy.
Protecting human rights, creating stable living conditions
Officially, Mauritania has ratified all key international human rights conventions and incorporated them in its national laws. Despite a large number of strategies and action plans seeking to realise human rights, the rights laid out in law have barely been implemented in practice to date. The GIZ project Promotion of Human Rights and Human Rights Dialogue in Mauritania supports public and civil society institutions in realising human rights for broader sections of society.
One human rights violation commonly seen in Mauritania is domestic violence against women. Since 2015, GIZ has been supporting the Mauritanian Ministry for Social Affairs, Children and the Family (MASEF) in the fight against domestic violence.
There are no reliable figures, but about 50 per cent of women living in rural parts of Mauritania are very concerned about the levels of domestic violence. Besides mental and physical violence, women also suffer economic and administrative violence, for instance if a man does not permit his wife to work or refuses to provide the documents needed to register their children.
This project pursues out-of-the-box solutions to human rights education. Grassroots civil society organisations from Assaba and Gorgol in the south of Mauritania have developed innovative tools for awareness-raising measures. These measures have reached more than 10,000 people to date. In surveys, more than 90 per cent of those surveyed confirmed that they now know more about domestic violence, women’s rights and support services. The resulting awareness-raising approaches are used at two central events in Mauritanian society: at traditional Moorish and Fulani wedding ceremonies and at a variety of cultural and sporting activities that take place in rural areas during the rainy season.
One example is wedding songs celebrating women’s rights. Another example is a type of certificate handed over to the groom during the wedding ceremony if he undertakes to protect women’s rights and renounces domestic violence.
Changing awareness of human rights issues does not happen overnight. Therefore, the project continues to support local stakeholders in raising awareness. These innovative approaches have been prepared and compiled in a toolbox. Since October 2018, the project has been distributing these tool boxes across the country and training NGOs to use them with support from MASEF’s regional structures. NGOs then use the toolbox for their own awareness-raising measures – lending out the hard copy or providing a digital soft copy for individual duplication of different tools.
The project forms part of the BMZ’s Special Initiative on Stabilisation and Development in the Middle East and North Africa. In this context, GIZ and other organisations are implementing more than 80 additional development projects between 2014 and 2023, thus creating economic and social prospects for people in the region.
SAFEGUARDS+GENDER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Within the parameters of the Safeguards+Gender Management System established in December 2016, GIZ conducted a total of 293 reviews of projects around the globe during the 2018 reporting period. These reviews sought to examine the human rights context of each project and draw conclusions for project design. All told, 137 in-depth reviews of human rights explored potential unintended adverse impacts on human rights in greater detail and proposed action to prevent and mitigate these impacts.
Through our work, we want to change social and institutional frameworks so that individuals can assert and realise their rights and live in dignity: Our human rights expertise.
Human rights play a crucial role in our corporate identity.
GIZ responds directly and appropriately to any information received indicating that its actions may have had a negative impact on human rights: Grievance procedure for human rights