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Commission to provide financial support for democracy and human rights worldwide

Summary: March 4, 2004: Commission will provide over EUR 96 million in 2004 to support democracy and human rights worldwide (Brussels)

The European Commission has approved € 96.35 million for the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) for 2004. This year EIDHR will focus on the support to democracy, good governance and the rule of law, on the prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of victims of torture, on the promotion of international justice and on combating the death penalty. Activities will be carried out in the 32 countries where EIDHR support can achieve the greatest impact and complement other community assistance programme and EU political dialogue.

EIDHR activities in 2004 will focus on

Support for democracy, good governance and the rule of law. Activities will work to strengthen the capacity of civil society networks to promote human rights, to fight trafficking in human beings, and to consolidate democratic institutions and participation of civil society – including indigenous peoples’ organisations – in decision-making processes.

Prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of victims of torture. The prevention of torture will support the implementation of the EU Guidelines on policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, by focusing on activities to raise awareness about the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture, and to promote its signature, ratification and effective implementation. As for victims of torture, the focus will be on rehabilitation services (psychotherapy and other psychiatric assistance, medical care, social rehabilitation) and on institutional strengthening (training of professionals and volunteers, development of managerial capacity, development of fund-raising capabilities, strengthening of relations with National Health Authorities, etc.).

Promotion of international justice. Activities will support the implementation of the EU Common Position on the International Criminal Court (ICC) by raising awareness about the ICC in countries which have not yet signed or ratified the Rome Statute, and by facilitating the implementation of the Rome Statute in national legislation. Asia and the Middle East, where there is a significant lack of support for the ICC, are the priority areas.

Combating the death penalty. Activities will support the implementation of the EU Guidelines on policy towards third countries on the death penalty by co-financing awareness-raising campaigns in countries where capital punishment is still practised, and by supporting countries acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The 32 countries identified as those where EIDHR can achieve greater impact in 2004 and complement other community assistance programmes and EU political dialogue are:

Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Fiji, Algeria, Israel & West Bank/ Gaza, Tunisia, Iraq, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Federal Republic Yugoslavia, and Turkey.

Devolution of the management of 80 % of EIDHR projects to delegations is a key item on the agenda in 2004. This essential element of the Commission Reform programme is designed to speed up delivery, improve quality and ultimately increase impact. This will be a highly complex process, involving the transfer of over 400 project files.

The other major work will be to give top priority to issues relating to impact and mainstreaming. For the EIDHR, this means focussing on the quality of projects: their design, definition of expected outcomes, monitoring and evaluation, simplification of procedures and production of appropriate guidelines.


The European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) was created in 1994. Since then, approximately € 100 million has been made available annually through this initiative to support the promotion and defence of human rights, democratisation and conflict prevention.

Substantial improvements have been made in the past few years to elaborating and implementing policies on human rights and democracy, leading to a much more focused and results-oriented approach. In May 2001 the European Commission adopted the Communication on the European Union's role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries, subsequently strongly endorsed by the Council. This Communication represents a crucial policy landmark to enhance the impact and effectiveness of the EIDHR, and proposed the adoption of a more strategic, prioritised and longer-term approach. On the basis of this Communication, the Commission identified the thematic and geographic priorities of the EIDHR for the period 2002-2004. The four thematic priorities identified are:

The Communication provides also a specific programming framework for election observation activities.

Activities funded under the EIDHR are generally implemented by civil society based organisations, in particular NGOs, as well as international organisations. Projects do not need to receive prior approval from national authorities or a government. This means that beneficiaries do not have to make concessions that would perhaps weaken the content and hence the impact of the projects. The use of the EIDHR without government consent represents a unique advantage compared to other instruments.

Since 2001, the Commission is managing some 380 projects worldwide worth more than € 310 million.

Further information on the EU's Human Rights & Democratisation Policy at:

and information on the activities of the EIDHR at:

Alternatively, you can send your question to the following mailbox:

  • Ref: EC04-035EN
  • EU source: European Commission
  • UN forum: 
  • Date: 4/3/2004

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