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Course 5E07: Rights-Based Programming
21 March-12 June 2007

Instructor: Felisa Tibbitts

This distance learning course introduces staff members of (international) development agencies and NGOs to rights-based programming. A human rights-based approach is a conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. Essentially, a human rights-based approach integrates the norms, standards and principles of the international human rights system into the plans, policies and processes of programme development.

Participants will deepen their knowledge about project and programme development from a human rights framework and learn how to apply the principles of equity, empowerment, participation and accountability to various phases of project planning and implementation. Participants will also gain sensitivity to how programs can integrate non-discriminatory practice and give attention to vulnerable groups. The course will focus on practical tools for human rights situation assessment, programme planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation within the rights-based conceptual framework.

The course involves approximately 50 hours of reading, on-line working groups, interaction with students and instructors/facilitators and assignments, and is offered over a 10-week period, beginning on 21 March 2007. E-mail will be the main medium for the course, although participants will need to have periodic access to the Web. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. The course instructor will provide individualized feedback where appropriate. Participants will do the required readings, prepare interim and final assignments and participate in group discussions. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to be an auditor of the course.

Course outline

Weeks 1-3: Introduction
Week 1. The Human Rights Framework
Week 2 Overview of Programming Phases
Week 3. Key Elements of Rights-Based Programming

Weeks 4-7: Elements of Rights-based Programming
Week 4. Situation Assessment
Week 5. Programme Design
Week 6. Programme Implementation
Week 7. Monitoring and Evaluation)

Weeks 8-10: Examples of Rights-based Programming
Week 8. Analysis of Rights-Based Programming: Case Study 1
Week 9. Analysis of Rights-Based Programming: Case Study 2
Week 10. Rights-Based Programming and the Future of Human Development Work

About the instructor

Felisa Tibbitts has successfully developed and managed projects in the NGO sector for over 20 years, from “idea development to evaluation” stage. As project manager, she has assisted partner organisations in their project design and management, often in the area of new programming. Ms. Tibbitts has organised workshops on rights-based programming and incorporates this approach into her ongoing trainings and policy papers. Ms. Tibbitts is co-founder and Director of Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) and former coordinator of Human Rights Education Programming for the Netherlands Helsinki Committee. She has Master’s degrees from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (Public Policy) and from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (Administration, Planning and Social Policy) and has published several articles on program planning and development in the education field.

Who should apply

The course is intended for staff members of development and human rights/social justice organisations. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


The course tuition fee is € 525 (tuition for auditors is € 200). A limited number of scholarships is available for applicants from Africa, Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe/Newly Independent States, Latin America/Caribbean, based on financial need.

The deadline for applications for this course was 1 December 2006. We are no longer accepting applications. This course will be offered again in the first semester of 2008.

Inquiries about the course can be sent to

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