The Human Rights and Democracy Programme (HRDP) is a dedicated source of funding for human rights work overseas. It is run by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO’s) Human Rights and Democracy Department in support of the FCO’s human rights objectives. In the financial year 2012/13 funding totalled £6.5 million. We used this to support 71 projects, ranging in scale from £5,000 to £275,000. Most are delivered by civil society implementers working in coordination with the local British Embassy or High Commission.
An underlying objective of the HRDP is to promote the development of local civil society organisations. Even when we work with international implementers, we therefore strongly encourage them to use local partners in order to help expand their experience and develop their capacity.
In 2012, the HRDP had eight specific target areas, aligned with the FCO’s human rights priorities. By focusing our effort in this way we avoid a scattergun approach and believe we achieve greater impact. The 2012 areas were:
- discrimination against women;
- freedom of expression;
- business and human rights;
- abolition of the death penalty;
- global torture prevention;
- freedom of religion or belief;
- elections; and
- human rights in the Commonwealth.
Projects were usually required to address one or more of these issues and to dovetail with the human rights work of the local UK Embassy or High Commission. In 2012, we also designated priority countries. These were linked to the countries of concern listed in the FCO’s Annual Report. We particularly encouraged bidding for projects in these countries, and 51% of funding was eventually committed to them.
You will find examples of HRDP-funded projects throughout this report. Here are some examples of work the Programme supported in 2012.
Discrimination against women
In the Philippines we funded a project to empower and train women leaders to participate and run in the country’s 2013 elections. Over 100 women leaders attended the training. In Brazil we supported “Safe and Friendly Cities for All”, a joint initiative by UNICEF, UN Women and UN Habitat to increase safety and improve the quality of life for women, youth and children in Rio de Janeiro. The HRDP funding targeted increased access for women in low-income communities to support services for victims of gender violence.
Abolition of the death penalty
In Morocco we funded a series of legal seminars delivered by the International Bar Association and aimed at supporting and engaging the Moroccan legal profession in the campaign for abolition. There was a high level of engagement between Moroccan national and local bar associations, international lawyers and academic experts on the different legal approaches which lawyers could use to challenge death penalty rulings and to advocate abolition in principle. In Kazakhstan we supported a project to draw up advice on new legislation to prevent an increase in the number of offences for which the death penalty can be applied.
Business and human rights
To generate understanding and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles (GPs) on Business and Human Rights, we funded a project to translate guidance material and practical examples on the GPs into foreign languages. This will help to offset the massive deficit in materials in languages other than English and to satisfy the demand from businesses, civil society and governments across the non-English-speaking world. In Cambodia we funded a project to raise awareness and understanding of the GPs among garment manufacturers, a sector of the economy that generates a lot of human rights concern.
Freedom of expression
In Brazil we supported personal safety training for journalists to help them create a more sustainable safety environment in the Brazilian media. In Mexico we are funding work to strengthen the investigative capacities of the Special Federal Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) through capacity-building. The project aims to support at least four stalled federal investigations of crimes against journalists. In Rwanda we funded work to promote greater contact between Rwandan civil society and the government. The aim is to facilitate discussions about government compliance with the UN Universal Periodic Review recommendations and to spark a debate in public opinion on issues related to democracy and the rule of law.
Global torture prevention
In 2012, we supported the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) to work in 11 target countries to promote the ratification and implementation of the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol and the criminalisation of torture through the law and in practice. APT carried out activities in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Lebanon, Nepal, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Uganda.
The HRDP is a flexible resource that allows us to deploy funding where it can have the most impact, and projects are not always linked to specific thematic priorities. For example, we contributed in 2012 to the Lifeline Fund, which is run by a consortium of international NGOs. Our contribution supported the fund’s work to provide emergency assistance worldwide to human rights defenders at risk of repression and harassment in the course of their work.
Other sources of funding for human rights work
In addition to the HRDP, other FCO programme funds also support different elements of human rights and democracy work.
For example, the FCO-led Arab Partnership Participation Fund (APPF) works with reforming governments, parliaments, civil society and the media to help deliver our long-term vision of a stable, prosperous Middle East and North Africa region. The APPF works in three main areas, all with close links to human rights:
- political participation;
- public voice and freedom of expression; and
- good governance (better access to justice and support for civil society initiatives to strengthen the rule of law transparency, integrity and tackling corruption).
The Reuniting Europe Programme also funds projects with human rights elements and supports Turkey and the Western Balkan countries with the reforms necessary for EU accession or closer partnership with the EU. It focuses on building stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the respect for and protection of minorities.
In addition, embassies and high commissions often support human rights projects through their own bilateral programme funds, and the FCO provides grant-in-aid funding for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Further information is available at GOV.UK