1-10 December 2010, Malaysia


Human Rights-Based Development - Human Rights provide a moral, authoritative and a legal framework to tackle root causes of poverty – the deep-rooted structures of discrimination – i.e. the global processes of impoverishment. A human rights framework has the potential to deal with not only legal justice, which is the primary preoccupation of traditional human rights organisations, but also economic and social justice which is central to development work.

Realising this potential, many development actors – development organisations, donors and governments - are now actively integrating human rights into development planning. National governments are seeking to integrate human rights in poverty reduction strategies and more community-based organisations are advocating for their basic human rights.

A human rights framework offers distinctive strengths and specific tools for development work. It makes the human individual as the owner of human rights and puts the human person at the centre of the development process. People are not viewed as passive subjects, but as active agents who are able to participate in, actively contribute to and enjoy development. Basic human needs to live life in dignity (adequate housing, adequate levels of nutrition, access to education, access to healthcare, to livelihoods and employment opportunities) are no longer seen as demands for charity but as basic human rights of which everyone is entitled to. This fundamental shift from charity/service delivery to human rights moves the poorest in our societies from a position of vulnerability to a position of strength, and therefore from a position of powerlessness to a position where they are empowered.



From the 1st to the 10th of December 2010, 25 individuals from 20 countries, representing various grassroots, national and international development NGOs, gathered in Malaysia for the Annual Global Linking and Learning Programme. Organised by Dignity International, the programme was themed towards human rights-based development, and on economic, social and cultural rights. The ten-day intensive yet enjoyable learning journey was aimed at equipping participants with knowledge on the key elements of human rights-based development, and to enhance their skills for its practical application.


Global Linking and Learning: Creative Group Processes

“The training gave me in-depth understanding of the challenges of promoting and protecting human rights in different contexts and in different countries. I found the field studies very interesting, and gained different perspectives by talking to those directly involved in those cases.” -Eva Amalathas (UK)

Besides indoor sessions, the participants went on field trips organised by Dignity’s partners in Malaysia, Pusat KOMAS and JKOAP (Perak Orang Asli Village Network), to Jinjang Longhouse, Kirby Carolina Estate, and Tekir Village in Labu, Negeri Sembilan. Through the visits, they were exposed to the struggles of people living in poverty and facing discrimination, such as the indigenous communities, asylum seekers, migrant workers, and plantation workers.


Group visit with the indigenous community


Dignity’s learning programmes are also designed based on a process of mutual learning, with the participants’ experience and realities as the starting point of their learning process. The non-formal education and learner-centered methodologies which required active participation and in-depth reflection throughout the whole programme have helped strengthen the participants understanding in the key elements of human rights-based development and its application into practical output on ground level.


Group visit to a plantation community

“The training module makes human rights based development understandable for the common people, the grassroots sector who need to know most about how they can relate human rights to their daily lives and how to insert their rights in order to attain development.” –Mercedes L. Angeles (Philippines)

Group dramatisation as part of the learning programme


Besides the knowledge and experience obtained during those ten days, participants also departed with a new network of allies with the will to carry on fighting for the rights of human kind.

“I have learnt a lot during the program and hope to continue the spirit of our batch as we are carrying the torch of struggle for all human rights for all!” –Veerawit Tianchainan (Thailand).

According to Hussein Jalily from Iran, “…it was not only a training programme, because you created a family only in ten days.” With Malaysian’s well-known hospitality when it comes to bonding through food, Seth Lartey from the UK commented, “I arrived with a 38-inch waist and left with a 42-inch waist!”


The organisers would like to express their heartfelt thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and Oxfam NOVIB for their continuous support for the Annual Global Programme.

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