Implementing Human Rights in Development Cooperation

Project Description

Title: Sector Programme on Human Rights (global)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2020 to 2023

A school child sitting in a classroom holding a globe in her lap.  ©GIZ/Felicitas Eser


Most partner countries in German development cooperation have ratified the core human rights treaties. Nevertheless, in many places the population cannot adequately exercise their political and civil, economic, social and cultural rights. Global crises such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbate this problem.

The purpose of human rights is to guarantee that people are able to live in dignity, equality and freedom. As such human rights are a central prerequisite for sustainable development. Human rights have been an official guiding principle for German development policy since 2011. With the BMZ 2030 reform strategy, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) once again emphasises that human rights are an important quality criterion for all projects and areas of development cooperation.


BMZ and its implementing organisations consistently align their development policy activities with human rights standards and principles.

Graffiti of the words ‘NO ONE IS ILLEGAL’ on a street wall. ©GIZ/Miko Guziuk (


The project advises BMZ and its implementing organisations on applying a human rights-based approach (HRBA) in development cooperation: BMZ and its implementing organisations support partner countries in implementing core human rights as well as human rights principles such as participation, empowerment and non-discrimination. They support state actors in fulfilling their duties and the population in claiming their rights.

The project advises BMZ on:

  • promoting a HRBA in international institutions, for example through partnerships with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) or international non-governmental organisation networks such as the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs; and
  • anchoring human rights in all BMZ concepts and strategies.

At the same time, the project works with implementing organisations to support the practical implementation of the HRBA through advice, training and innovative pilot projects.

The project works in cooperation with the German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR).

A person with an LGBTI rainbow ribbon wrapped around their hand and arm. ©GIZ/Anete Lusina (

Last update: July 2022