Realizing Human Rights through Government Budgets

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This publication explores the linkages between obligations under international human rights law and budget policies and processes. It seeks to sensitize government officials to better understand their human rights obligations as they decide budget allocations, implement planned expenditures, and assess the budget’s impact on the realization of human rights. And, it aims to provide non-governmental actors with information about the relationship of human rights to budget processes and specific budget decisions, so that they are better able to hold their governments to account. This is especially important for the poorest and most marginalized groups, because they are more dependent on government programmes to realize their rights than those who are better off.



Budget execution (expenditure)

After the legislature approves the budget, the executive, in the form of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), is responsible for executing or implementing the budget. In many ways a government’s expenditure reveals more about its compliance with its human rights obligations than do allocations. Policies and plans may be well designed, and allocations in the budget may accurately reflect the costs of realizing those policies and plans. Nonetheless, the best-laid plans may still go awry when the time comes to spend the money. Without appropriate expenditure, the sound policies and plans will not be realized.


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