Mainstreaming refers to the conscious, systematic and concrete integration of certain values and standards into policies, plans, programmes, priorities, processes, outputs and outcomes of an organization. The integration of a human rights perspective into development work will ensure better targeting, increased efficiency of programmes and long-term sustainability. The designation of human rights as a “cross-cutting issue” that needs to be “mainstreamed” in all programmes, policies and activities of the UN system in 1997 ushered in policy and programming shift within the UN agencies, programmes and funds.

FAO has been engaged in mainstreaming, with a particular focus on the right to adequate food. The Right to Food Team in ESA backstops this endeavour. At the operational level, the approach based on the right to food centres on three key questions:

  • Is the realization of the right to food an overall objective or guiding framework?
  • Do the PANTHER principles (participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment and the rule of law) guide the  processes of programme formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation?
  • Do programmes strengthen the notion of rights and obligations, build capacity of rights holders and duty bearers, and establish accountability mechanisms?
Human Rights Mainstreaming in the United Nations

UN agencies have been exerting separate and common efforts in the integration of human rights in their work. The UN Development Group has served as a common platform for human rights mainstreaming in the UN system. Its human rights mainstreaming mechanism works to strengthen coherent and coordinated support to the UN Resident Coordinators, Country Team and member states. Important instruments include:

Mainstreaming the right to food at FAO

FAO has been mainstreaming the rights to food in the interrelated areas of normative, analytical and operational work. The Right to Food Guidelines adopted by the FAO Council in 2004 provide the basic normative framework. Progress is exhibited, among others, in the human rights provisions of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure (VGGT) and the incorporation of human rights principles in the Country Programming Framework. The Right to Food Team provides guidance on operational activities and has been carrying out collaborative analytical work with other divisions. These include:

  • Study and fact sheets on how the right to food can be integrated into global food security strategies

  • Guidance note on how to integrate the right to food into food and nutrition security programme

  • Toolbox on the integration of the right to food in the non-wood forest
    product sector

  • Studies on how the right to food can strengthen the implementation of the VGGT