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People and Places
Price Tag
  Legal and Regulatory Checklist
  Summary of Regulations and Policy Issues
  Policy Characteristics Checklist
  Policy Environment Score (PES)
  Expanded Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) PES module
  Monitoring the Policy Reform Process
  AIDS Program Effort Index (API)
  Planning and Finance Checklist
  HIV/AIDS Legislation Score
  Reproductive Health Legislative Index
  Human Rights Matrix
  Workplace HIV/AIDS Policy Builder
  UN Population Division
  Country AIDS Policy Analysis Project
  Advocacy Tools and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change Manual
Programs and Performance
Gender Lens
Human Rights Lens
Adolescent Lens
Policy Circle Paper

The Paper: Policies, Laws and Regulations

Policy documents include laws, national and local policies and plans, operational policies, and resource allocation plans (Cross et al., 2001). They also include policies and plans of private sector organizations that support family planning, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS, such as companies’ workplace policies for HIV/AIDS. International organizations such as UN agencies also produce policy documents that offer guidance to governments and NGOs on specific issues.

Some policies derive from statements of heads of state or ministers without being formally written down as formal government orders or regulations. In some countries, unwritten procedures and even traditional norms and practices are also considered policies.

The “paper” should state clearly what the policy aims to accomplish or facilitate, what the policy stipulates in terms of change or new behavior, which sectors of society benefit from policy change, how much the policy change will cost and who bears the cost, and who will coordinate and implement the policy.

Written policy documents should include the following:

  • Rationale (including a statement of the problem and justification for the policy)
  • Goals and objectives (what the policy will achieve, by when)
  • Program measures (broad categories of activities)
  • Implementation and institutional arrangements (including organizations and ministries involved)
  • Funding and other resources (levels and sources, human resources)
  • Indicators of success
  • Monitoring and evaluation plan

Analysis of the “paper” includes assessing the content with respect to human rights, gender, and youth, as appropriate, to ensure that policy documents adhere to the relevant principles related to these topics. Policies can be assessed against international conventions and declarations, e.g., the 1994 ICPD POA, the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing), the 2002 U.N. General Assembly Special Assembly on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS), Millennium Development Goals, and the International Safe Motherhood Initiative agenda (see www.safemotherhood.org). Calves (2002) provides a framework for assessing adolescent reproductive health policies, as applied in three sub-Saharan African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Togo). The paper presents major elements of ARH policy and program development and sets benchmarks against which future policy and program development can be measured.

Policies differ from strategic plans in that policies are generally broader statements of purpose with goals and expected outcomes. Strategic plans provide more specification of how the policy is to be implemented.