Strengthening human rights
Title: Strengthening human rights in Uganda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: National Planning Authority
Overall term: 2014 to 2016
Uganda has ratified the nine core treaties of the UN human rights system as well as the major human rights treaties and conventions of Africa. However, it has yet to implement them adequately at the national level. The human rights-based approach is not systematically integrated in the policy making process. Besides lack of implementation, there is also no accountability nor monitoring by independent public institutions and informed citizens. Many people, especially women, people with disabilities and ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, are unable to assert their rights. Human rights defenders and civil society organisations that advocate for the rights of disadvantaged groups or report on human rights violations, often find their work obstructed.
Non-governmental organisations and the media can neither report freely and adequately on discrimination and human rights violations, nor inform the citizens about how to protect themselves and assert their rights. The management of the National Planning Authority (NPA) is committed to addressing these shortcomings in good governance and human rights, which were also highlighted in the African Peer Review Mechanism report. However, the Authority still lacks the necessary capacities. So, too, do the country’s two independent bodies, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), and the other civil society actors and organisations.
Selected key stakeholders, including NPA, EOC and UHRC, as well as other government institutions and selected civil society stakeholders, are in a position to strengthen human rights in their respective areas of work.
The project is supporting the Ugandan stakeholders in three areas of activity:
- Strengthening the national framework, with the collaboration of a number of state authorities and non-governmental human rights organisations. This support focuses on the integration of a human rights-based approach into national development planning, and on the implementation of that approach in the different sectors and at local level.
- Strengthening the two independent human rights commissions, UHRC and EOC.
- Awareness raising among, and support for the rights holders, and for civil society actors and organisations, including the independent media. The project advises NGOs on their activities in support of women’s rights, land rights, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and on media freedoms and the parliamentary system.
Capacity development is an integral part of the measures in all these areas of activity.
Results achieved so far
Following intensive capacity building measures, the human rights-based approach has now become an integral part of the planning work carried out by the NPA. This is evident in, among other documents, the preamble to the revised ‘Uganda Vision 2040’. The latest national development plan (NDPII 2015/16–2019/2020) also states that a human rights-based approach should underpin all strategies, plans and programmes. It has likewise been acknowledged that such an approach is also required in the planning and programmes of local governments and sectors.
The project has encouraged the emergence of synergies between the NPA, the human rights commissions UHRC and EOC, and civil society representatives. For instance, the EOC regularly participated in the consultations for the NDP II, where they were able to include their requests for equality. Meanwhile, board members of the NPA have shared their knowledge at EOC training events.
GIZ supported the UHRC during development of a national action plan on human rights. At the same time, support for the civil society network HURINET made it possible to pursue a participatory approach in the development of the plan. The UHRC also provides expertise to assist the NPA in human rights-related questions. The EOC has likewise found its place in the human rights architecture. It is increasingly involved in exchanges with other partners, including the relevant civil society groups.
The civil society component focuses on promoting tolerance and non-discrimination (land rights for women, the LGBT community), and on cooperation between parliament and the media. It has also started collaborating with a number of the most vulnerable groups in Ugandan society.