International and Regional

Technical Guidance

In 2012, Yamin was the lead consultant/author for the “Technical Guidance on the Application of a Human Rights-based Approach to the Implementation of Policies and Programmes to Reduce Preventable Maternal Morbidity and Mortality,” drafted for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Technical Guidance is the first concrete guidance on a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to health to be adopted by resolution by the UN Human Rights Council. It sets a landmark precedent in terms of operationalizing HRBAs, with implications that go far beyond maternal, and sexual and reproductive health. The UN Human Rights Council called for a report on implementation activities after two years, marking a historic shift from its emphasis on MMM as a human rights concern to a focus on the actual blueprint for putting HRBAs into practice. While preceding reports highlighted the link between MMM and human rights, the Technical Guidance goes further by providing detailed assistance to policymakers and civil society organizations on how to combat maternal death and morbidity in accordance with human rights standards.


Since the Technical Guidance was adopted by resolution of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012, the Government of Tanzania officially notified the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of its intention to implement the Technical Guidance. WHO, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have each budgeted activities around implementation, with a particular focus on Eastern and Southern Africa.

Yamin has given various talks on the Technical Guidance in international fora as well as presented a webinar on the Technical Guidance for the global staff of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). To launch UNFPA’s Actions for Human Rights Campaign, this webinar was broadcast live to 35 UNFPA offices worldwide.

Yamin and HRWC Program Coordinator Rebecca Cantor are now working with FXB Senior Fellow Elizabeth Gibbons to develop modules for different stakeholders on implementing the Technical Guidance and adding a specific component on child mortality. In addition, HRWC is working with civil society groups in Africa to advocate for explicit adoption of implementation guidelines for the Technical Guidance. Additionally, HRWC recently participated in and facilitated sessions at a regional meeting in Malawi, “Regional Workshop on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Including Related Sexual and Reproductive Health Issues,” that drew participants from South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, and Tanzania, as well as facilitators from various UN agencies. The workshop highlighted the Guidance and how it can be implemented.

Power of Numbers

In collaboration with Sakiko Fukuda-Parr of the New School for Social Research, the Health Rights of Women and Children program at the FXB Center has co-organized a notable project in regard to human rights and the post-2015 development agenda. “The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Targets for Human Development and Human Rights” refocuses the debate on MDGs (which until now has centered on whether the MDGs are likely to be achieved) to critically examine if and how the MDGs have shifted global and national policy priorities and discourse. With scholars participating from around the world and presentations to audiences ranging from global political leaders to UN statistical experts and development institutions who will shape the next agenda, the project aims to contribute a distinct voice to the discussions leading up to the post-2015 agenda. Papers have been compiled and issued as the FXB Center’s first working paper series, and are currently being peer reviewed and revised for inclusion in a spring 2014 Special Double Issue of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, co-edited by Yamin and Fukuda-Parr.

Realizing Roma Rights: Addressing Violence, Discrimination and Segregation in Europe

In April 2013, the FXB Center expanded its work with Roma adolescents by holding the first Harvard conference on the Roma. “Realizing Roma Rights: Addressing Violence, Discrimination and Segregation in Europe” was an integral step forward in strengthening the network of institutions working on Roma discrimination, access to education, and training and civic engagement, and in raising these issues higher on the U.S. policy agenda. The event was hosted in partnership with two Harvard centers, the Mahindra Humanities Center and the Center for European Studies, and with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Panelists included representatives from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Helsinki Committee, the UN Development Program, and the World Bank. The FXB Center and OSCE are now collaborating on an edited volume that will draw from panelist presentations, highlight project findings, and contextualize the work of others in the field.