Open Dialogue: Eyes on the Budget as a Human Rights Instrument

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The Open Dialogue, which UNICEF organized in January 2007, drew together colleagues from the World Bank, The UN Special Unit on South-South Cooperation, the International Budget project and 61 country delegations. The dialogue focused on how to make national budgets and public policies in general work as instruments for the realization of human rights, including children's rights. UNICEF presented two concrete examples of efforts to make this happen in two very different countries--Ecuador and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some key ideas coming out of the dialogue:

1) The budget is not a technical instrument, but a political one, which expresses how a society sees itself and its priorities;

2)In order to ensure that the budget functions as an instrument for the realization of rights, it is important to open up the process of budget formulation and monitoring to all sectors of society by democratizing information and knowledge, and providing channels and instruments that allow people to participate meaningfully in debate and monitor how the budget is implemented and what impact it has;

3)UNICEF and the UN system are in a privileged position to help promote such a process, given their neutrality and impartiality vis-avis national political interests, and because they embody universal values based on global consensus.




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