Rights defenders might be involved in INSPIRED projects whenever reform projects' include rights' components. Their inputs are highly valuable in INSPIRED projects due to genuine practical knowledge of provisions preventing access to rights, be it in the national framework or related to the implementation of international commitments. Human Rights bodies enjoy legitimacy from the side of the Government, and from the citizens, and thus participate in upholding and strengthening people's rights in different spheres.
Partner countries often fail to implement binding treaties on Human Rights due to a lack of political incentives, but also due to the diﬃculty of operationalising such provisions into national legislation. Involving such bodies in consultations helps participants to have impartial legal expertise on the issues tackled, and ultimately producing a high-quality Roadmap for Reform.
Public policy can hardly be dissociated from human rights, as governments action – or inaction – in a given policy field is always going to impact what citizens’ are allowed, entitled or forbidden to do. Moreover, in an approach whose key principles – inclusiveness and participation – are based on the Human Rights-Based Approach to development, it is all too natural to engage those national agencies or bodies in charge of protecting human rights and overseeing the extent to which governments are honouring their international commitments. Indeed, most of these bodies are created under international treaties or charters aiming at guaranteeing universal rights and remain closely linked to international mechanisms that seek to monitor State parties’ compliance with their treaty obligations. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Human Rights Council, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) or the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to name a few, usually play a monitoring role by appointing independent experts to assess the situation in different fields and report back to the corresponding UN body, so that the latter can pursue its inquiry through regular consultations with the country’s government (in its capacity as signatory of the corresponding treaty).
Consequently, such procedures still belong to the realm of international law and remain subject to the sort of diplomatic tokenism that is required for the survival of such a delicate system, mainly due to the lack of full-fledged enforcement mechanisms. As with any international treaty, the final say is on the signatories and the proper implementation depends on the willingness of the government to transpose those international obligations into full-fledged legislation and undertake active measures to promote and protect those rights.
This top-down dynamic can be complemented by the kind of bottom-up approach that INSPIRED puts in place, as the dialogue process focuses on actual domestic policies instead of international law. By means of identifying the obstacles and bottlenecks in the country’s legal framework, INSPIRED processes are able to shed light on the actual causes that are preventing international standards on human rights to take hold, always from a local perspective that is strongly complementary to the work of Human Rights bodies, as it provides them with very practical insight – beyond the catch-all argument of “lack of political will”– on the actual reasons why rights are being violated or poorly enforced.
For this reason, Ombudsman institutions and Human Rights bodies are important stakeholders to be associated with the dialogue process, as they can contribute to framing the deliberations in terms of citizens’ rights and ensure that the human rights-based approach is being adopted in policy formulation and implementation. Their proactive role in the INSPIRED dialogue processes on the labour rights of people with disabilities in Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan, as well as those on women socio-economic rights in Armenia or Cabo Verde, prove the extent to which their constructive engagement can help to steer the debate towards solutions that translate into actionable rights at country level.