Australia’s National Human Rights Action Plans: traditional or modern model of planning?

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This inquiry has sought to assess for the first time the effectiveness of three of Australia’s National Human Rights Action Plans (NHRAP) in realising human rights and show that among other factors, the traditional concept of planning, which is still predominant in international human rights law, can play a key part in generating different problems in the way of an effective action plan. This focused case study was informed by four sources of data, including an online survey of 37 experts, an in-depth interview and secondary data, qualitative and quantitative. As the results of this mixed methods research indicate, the first two of Australia’s NHRAPs were only ‘slightly effective’ in implementing human rights. These two plans are beset by six fundamental and four subordinate problems which all stem from, inter alia, traditional planning. On the contrary, Australia’s current NHRAP which steps away from the very nature of traditional planning is more effective than the first two. The current experience of Australia, particularly in the areas of women’s rights and children’s rights, has a number of important implications for future practices. These include, but are not limited to, conducting a baseline study, linkage to the universal periodic review, evidence-based, theoretical foundation, extensive consultation and integrated governance approach. This all suggests a strategic shift towards the modern model of planning which is multi-level, participatory, top-down bottom-up, and theory laden.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1017
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights
Issue number7
Early online date5 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished online - 5 Jul 2016


  • National Human Rights Action Plan
  • modern planning
  • traditional planning
  • Australia
  • implementation of human rights


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