Christian Aid partner provides governance training in Nigeria, in 2013.

Accountable governance and human rights

We work to empower poor and marginalised communities to influence the decisions that affect their lives.

Christian Aid Ireland supports poor communities to demand accountability from their national and local governments. We address abuses to human rights and speak out against the unjust structures that create inequality and keep people in poverty.

We believe that poverty is structural, caused by imbalances in power. Our accountable governance and human rights programme focuses on the needs and rights of the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society, considering the multiple ways in which people suffer inequality and powerlessness. It also seeks to uphold human rights, where they are under threat. 

Christian Aid Ireland's accountable governance and human rights programme:

  • Empowers poor and marginalised people by helping them to influence those in positions of authority and governance.
  • Promotes citizens’ engagement with the state and helps them to ensure that planning and budgeting is inclusive and transparent.
  • Supports women and men living in poverty to enjoy a better quality of life through advocating for their human rights to land, housing, sustainable livelihoods, quality healthcare and justice.
  • Challenges governments and power holders to fulfil the human rights of people living in poverty and to implement policies that deliver economic justice and equality.

Our approach

Citizens, especially those with least power, must have opportunities to actively participate in their own governance and influence their own development if it is to be for their benefit and sustainable in the long-term.
This includes:

  • Access to basic services or natural resources - people that are most marginalised and vulnerable have least influence over how essential services are provided or how access to resources is regulated. 
  • Access to justice and protection of legal rights - to protect rights, people need an awareness of rights and access to a functioning justice system to defend them.
  • Tax justice - working to promote fairer tax systems, the right to information and the opportunity to seek redress and complain about poor services and behaviour.
  • Democratic engagement and accountability of government to the people - this can take many forms, but involves a relationship based on free elections and being answerable to the electorate.   
  • Active citizenship - strengthening communities and community organisations to engage and influence.
  • Responsive state - strengthening elected representatives, government officials and service providers to understand, engage and respond progressively to improve service provision.

When citizens are fully aware of their human rights and know how to address them, those in power can be held to account, they have to answer for actions and policies, they have to improve how they govern and deliver services and they have to respond to the real needs of people, especially the poorest and most marginalised men and women in the communities they serve.

Our Impact

Our work on accountable governance and human rights demonstrates the change we can help people to create. 

  • In Angola, where there is an increasing threat of big business and powerholders taking community land, we halted 39 planned evictions in 2016.
  • In Nigeria, our Voice to the People programme has helped poor communities to produce their own ‘Charters of Demands’ to express their communities’ needs and demand services and infrastructure. These demands are presented to local government and the planned budgets and services of the local district councils are followed up on and monitored by the community.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we helped to improve engagement between local authorities and citizens with 86 local budgets drafted with citizen participation. 
  • In Guatemala, proposed unfair tax exemptions for businesses were challenged by simplifying complex taxation language, so that people could understand how local government, public education and the judicial system would be affected by budget cuts resulting from such huge tax breaks.This generated lobbying which led to a proposed bill supporting the unjust tax exemptions being withdrawn.