Promoting a rights-based approach in civil society organisations in Rwanda

Project description

Title: Promoting a rights-based approach in civil society organisations in Rwanda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Rwanda
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MINAFFET)
Overall term: January 2016 - June 2018


In the preamble to its constitution, Rwanda commits to upholding the principle of human rights. Indeed, this East African country has ratified most human rights conventions and made substantial headway with implementation, particularly with respect to social and economic rights. However, in spite of key successes, certain human rights mechanisms are still not being realised effectively.


Civil society organisations are able to process human rights topics more gender and conflict sensitively. They represent the interests of disadvantaged groups vis-à-vis government institutions.


GIZ seconds development workers to civil society organisations engaged in the field of human rights, gender equality and land rights. Here they train and advise staff on rights-based topics, including international human rights conventions. Furthermore, the project finances advocacy work, documents violations and funds local experts.

The project also organises continuing education and training, not only on human rights but on other topics such as gender equality, fundraising, advocacy and organisational development. By initiating joint meetings between representatives of Rwandan civil society organisations, the project fosters networking. The rationale here is that by working together to advocate the interests of endangered and vulnerable population groups, the organisations can achieve more effective outcomes.


Thanks to the project-organised training sessions, civil society organisations are now much more knowledgeable about human rights. Indeed, most partner organisations have mainstreamed the rights-based approach into their work. Leading by example, the project also ensures human rights are taken into account at all stages of its implementation.

In the meantime, partner organisations are now placing the needs of endangered and vulnerable population groups at the centre of their work. They represent their interests and cooperate closely with other organisations.

Civil society organisations have succeeded in getting the Rwandan Government to recognise human trafficking as a major human rights issue, moving it centre stage in terms of criminal prosecution. At the same time, the organisations advocate the decriminalisation of prostitution and abortion, as set out in the Maputo Protocol on African women’s rights, a position that is also reflected in the latest Penal Code draft amendment bill.