Human rights approach

The present training builds on and is inspired by the human rights framework. Identifying rights and abuses of rights is also important in practical psychosocial work. Understanding the experiences of participants and survivors in terms of rights and their violation may be creative and bring insights, and can give survivors and their helpers valuable tools.

Why the human rights approach?

Awareness of human rights, and their great importance for everyone, can be a valuable resource when working with people whose rights have been brutally disrespected. Human rights values may assist us both to understand the suffering we encounter and find ways to respond to it in a respectful and helpful way.

What does it mean to have a human rights perspective?

A human rights based approach is about empowering people to know and claim their rights and increasing the ability and accountability of individuals and institutions who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights.

This means giving people greater opportunities to participate in shaping the decisions that impact on their human rights. It also means increasing the ability of those with responsibility for fulfilling rights to recognise and know how to respect those rights, and make sure they can be held to account.

There are some underlying principles which are of fundamental importance in applying a human rights based approach in practice.

These are:

  • participation
  • accountability
  • non-discrimination and equality
  • empowerment and
  • legality


Our aim has been to present human rights in a way that seems directly relevant in their work, and explain the value of human rights approach in their daily work with survivors of human rights violations. The work we are doing is about creating a possibility for the women to take back their dignity, feel that they again are worthy humans, that they can deal with the feelings of shame and humiliation and move beyond what the human rights violations, the injustice and the trauma, have done to them. By the feedback and discussions we have had with the participants, we see that this does in fact provide a context and a way of thinking about their own work in ways that are meaningful and also energizing. It is not only very heavy work of assistance, the helpers may also see themselves as active in combating the consequences of severe human rights violations.