Promoting the human rights-based approach

Proejct description

Title: Promoting a human rights-based approach in civil society or-ganisations in Rwanda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Devel-opment (BMZ)
Country:  Rwanda
Overall term: 2019 to 2021


Rwanda has made substantial progress in poverty reduction and the realisation of economic and so-cial rights over the last few years. However, United Nations human rights bodies draw attention to deficits in the implementation of several human rights obligations. For example, they criticise illegal arrests, limited judicial independence and restrictions on the freedom of opinion, the press and assembly. They also point to widespread violations of women’s and children’s rights and the social disadvantages of people with disabilities or historically marginalised groups. 

Civil society organisations have a limited scope for action. Despite challenging conditions, civil society in Rwanda is relatively vibrant. A large number of civil society organisations and networks are involved in educating people with regard to human rights, providing legal advice, and monitoring and promoting various human rights issues. Having said that, they have not yet been able to ensure that their target groups are heard or to draw more attention to the most disadvantaged groups.


Selected civil society organisations (CSOs) increasingly campaign for the human rights of particularly disadvantaged population groups


The project develops the skills of the CSOs by sharing knowledge and experience. It aims to increase the use of peer learning (learning in a group) and knowledge exchange formats at selected partner organisations. To this end, the project provides training courses and ongoing advisory services on various human rights issues and methodological aspects. 

In addition, the project improves the way in which selected CSOs advocate human rights issues. It supports them in adopting a gender- and conflict-sensitive approach to collecting and evaluating data regarding the human rights situation and in using this data as a basis for their work with government institutions. Evidence-based work should generally be considered an elementary component of serious human rights work in CSOs. However, it is particularly essential in the Rwandan context because it increases the credibility of the CSOs and promotes human rights work that is based on objective data analysis rather than an openly confrontational approach. 

Moreover, the project helps to orient the strategies of selected CSOs more towards representing the rights of particularly disadvantaged groups. This promotes the consolidation and systematic application of the human rights approach. In supporting the CSOs in collecting and evaluating disaggregated data, the individual measure helps identify the population groups particularly affected by human rights violations as accurately as possible. In the spirit of ‘leaving no one behind’ – the overarching principle of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the lessons learned are used to further strengthen the orientation towards representing interests, as well as towards educating people with regard to human rights and providing legal advice. Systematically taking account of gender dimensions and the multiple discrimination faced by certain groups of individuals (such as women and girls with disabilities or sex workers) forms a central component of this approach and is continuously promoted in both the training courses and the advisory services.