NGO Fields

Human Rights & Inclusion

"the right to schooling"

Human Rights & InclusionWhatever NGO field we work in, we need to understand two underlying concepts: Human Rights and Inclusion.

They are important because they shape the way development agencies think and plan projects as well as the way national and international aid is given. They shape the way fields and problems are discussed, and, as development workers, we need to understand the thinking and language of other people in our field.

The concept of Human Rights has come out of the UN organisations and puts into writing what every individual should be getting in this world: from food, to education, to equal rights under the law, to privacy.

  • Individual countries decide, or not, to sign up to an agreement on “The Rights of the Child” or “The Rights of the Disabled”. These rights may then be the criteria by which the country’s development progress is measured – for example, the country may agree to targets linked to the percentage of children in primary school. Reaching these targets may become a condition for getting the next sum of money destined for education.

Inclusion is recognizing our universal "oneness" and interdependence. Inclusion is recognizing that we are "one" even though we are not the "same". The act of inclusion means fighting against exclusion and all of the social diseases that exclusion gives birth to – racism, sexism etc.

  • Fighting for inclusion also involves assuring that all support systems are available to those who need such support – as a civic responsibility, not a favour. We were all born "in".
  • Inclusion does not mean that everybody must love everybody else and that we must all be one big, happy family. The question at the root of Inclusion is not – “Can't we be friends?” – but - "Can we all just learn to get along and live with one another?"

The concepts of Human Rights and Inclusion both drive towards the same kinds of outcome and they overlap a great deal. For example, the right of children to inclusive education is recognised in a number of international human rights documents. Both concepts have led to changes and successes.

  • In the Health field, thirty years ago, workers felt that they were successful when fewer babies died in their first year. Then, with Human Rights, they were faced with a different measure of failure or success – every baby has a Right to Life.
  • Inclusion is a more abstract concept and may go beyond Human Rights. For some people it is a principle that they find very inspiring.

Inclusion (& Exclusion): The Basics

People working in development are finding that two questions are increasingly important. These are: who is included? And, who is left out?

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