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Netherlands Helsinki Committee / Themes / Safeguarding Human Rights / Mainstreaming Human Rights

Mainstreaming Human Rights

In international relations, human rights are mostly dealt with in specially created procedures. Raising human rights issues only in the context of mechanisms specifically designed for this purpose runs the risk of creating a separate sphere of human rights statements and discussions which become a ‘ritual’ with little to no impact on real power relations.

To be effective, the outcomes of these procedures should have an impact in other areas of international relations as well, for example in economic, cultural, professional and technical assistance contacts. Making use of these other fora is needed to effectively transfer the message that without structural changes in human rights related policies “business as usual” is not possible with human rights violators. The leadership of human rights abusing governments as well as others in a position to influence human rights compliance or human rights climate should be confronted with concerns on human rights across a holistic spectrum of relations.

The NHC is exploring how human rights can be better taken into account in these contacts, including by advocating for professional ethical standards to be taken seriously of officials who engage in international contacts with counterparts who are involved in committing human rights abuses. Additionally, the NHC calls for the recognition of the crucial role of independent civil society in fighting corruption and other forms of financial mismanagement by stakeholders involved in international economic and financial cooperation.