Human rights are not mere discursive concepts on human dignity. These
days, consensus dictates that governments who commit to human rights by
ratifying international treaties are also required to implement specific
domestic measures to fulfill their obligations. In addition to law
enforcement and accountability systems, one of the main tools
governments can use to guarantee human rights are public policies.
Accordingly, some governments in Latin America are taking steps to
transform their administrative structures to comply with their human
rights obligations. This Brief offers short case studies of the first
two Latin American initiatives to integrate a rights based approach in
public policies. It analyses the experience of the Government of Mexico
City, which has made great strides in implementing the approach, and the
case of Argentina, an incipient but promising process to guarantee the
realisation of human rights. Though it is too early in both cases to see
an impact on human rights per se, there are important outcomes in terms
of implementing the process itself, outcomes that are significant given
the difficulty of enacting such fundamental change. In describing these
successes and the contextual factors underpinning them, lessons can be
drawn that might be useful for other developing countries considering
implementing a Rights Based Approach to address their own human rights
As a new and different approach to policymaking, incorporating a RBA
requires spending much time raising awareness and convincing
stakeholders about the benefits of reform.
The micro-management or implementation level seems to be the most
difficult for a RBA to permeate, due not only to the many changes and
specific actions this paradigm demands, but also to bureaucratic
Though political will was crucial in both cases, it is not enough to
successfully implement a RBA. There is also a need for reliable
technical capacity and the ability to identify problems - such as
through sound participatory assessments.
Pérez, M.; de la Mora, D. ELLA Policy Brief: Making Human Rights Real: Two Latin American Experiences in the Rights Based Approach to Policy-making. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2012) 6 pp.