Brussels, 19 March 2010
CONCORD’S REACTIONS AND COMMENTS IN VIEW OF THE
ADOPTION OF THE EIDHR STRATEGY PAPER 2011-2013
1. General introduction
The overarching objective of the EIDHR thematic programme is “to contribute to the development and
consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms,
within the framework of the Community’s policy on development cooperation, and economic, financial and
technical cooperation with third countries, and consistent with the EU’s foreign policy as a whole”.
The programme’s five main components are the following:
i.) Objective 1: Enhancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries where they
are most at risk.
ii.) Objective 2: Strengthening the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democratic reform, in
supporting the peaceful conciliation of group interests and consolidating political participation and
iii.) Objective 3: Supporting actions on human rights and democracy issues in areas covered by EU
Guidelines, including on human rights dialogues, on human rights defenders, on the death penalty, on
torture, on children and armed conflict, on the rights of the child, on violence against women and girls
and combating all forms of discrimination against them, on International Humanitarian Law and on
possible future guidelines.
iv.) Objective 4: Supporting and strengthening international and regional frameworks for the protection
and promotion of human rights, justice, the rule of law and the promotion of democracy
v.) Objective 5: Building confidence in and enhancing the reliability and transparency of democratic
electoral processes, in particular through election observation.
The mid-term review exercise was initiated to provide the European Commission with a better overview of
the appropriateness of the means and mechanisms established under the current Strategy and Multi-annual
Programme for reaching the general and specific objectives defined in the legal basis for this instrument and
to provide recommendations for the formulation of the new strategy for the 2011-2013 period.
CONCORD was approached to be involved in the midterm evaluation of the EIDHR instrument at two
different moments. A first consultation meeting with CSOs was organised by the EC on 9 July 2009 to have
a first discussion on the revision of the EIDHR SP 2007-2010. After what, a second consultation meeting
took place on 17 November 2009 to review the draft SP 2011-2013.
Although we welcome the opportunity to participate to this evaluation, it is important to mention that after the
July meeting, the Commission asked CSOs to provide their inputs and comments on the new Strategy
Paper, whereas no draft had been circulated yet. We were therefore requested to comment a non-existing
document. In addition, the draft SP was eventually only circulated 2 days before the second consultation
meeting of November, giving very little time to prepare and comment.
A final draft version of the SP 2011-2013, based on the various consultation meetings, was then informally
sent to CONCORD on 8 March. It is based on this last version that we are commenting today.
We are generally pleased to observe that:
- The EC is opening up to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESC-rights). In many countries, defenders
or social activists fighting against violations of ESC-rights (labour rights, against forced evictions, gender
discrimination in access to land or other productive resources) are often also the ones prosecuted. For
being such an important and transversal issue, we would like to ask the EC to mainstream ESC-rights
under all five objectives of the new Strategy Paper (SP).
- The EC took good note of our recommendation to broaden the scope of the instrument to include all the
EU Guidelines on Human Rights (including on the Rights of the Child and on Violence against women
and girls), to ensure a holistic approach to the protection and promotion of universal human rights.
- The EC is making strong emphasis on the importance of a human rights based approach to development
At the same time, the report also makes observations and brings recommendations that are either not
entirely clear-cut or to which we do not fully agree with.
2. General comments
- It is quite a "bad surprise" to notice the poor level of funds allocated to Transnational Scheme (being
18.9M€) for the whole period (2011-2013) for the whole world. If we compare this with the amount
allocated for Election Observation Missions (105M€), it seems difficult to believe that the EU is willing to
build on regional dialogue and solve Human Rights and Democracy problems.
- We believe that the EU Delegations need to play a bigger role in coordinating their efforts with those done
by individual EU member states. This is especially crucial for the most sensitive HR issues which are highly
political. Unfortunately, from what we have seen and heard, they often lack courage to play this coordinating
- The EIDHR strategy does not mention National Human Rights Commission. We think they need to promote
the establishment of such commission and provide support to strengthen their capacities to function
independently and professionally in close collaboration with human rights NGOs. In this regards, special
support needs to be given also to National Human Rights Commission on Violence Against Women, which
exist in some countries.
- In “2. Analysis of the international situation and the European Union policy framework”, we suggest to add,
after “Moreover, the EU is in the process of ratifying jointly with EU Member States the Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)”: The CRPD, is the first human rights convention to be signed by
the European Communities and has a standalone article (Article 32) calling on all signatories to include the
rights of persons with disabilities in International Cooperation. 144 UN members’ states have now signed
including every member of the EU. At this time persons with disabilities and their representative
2rganizations are need of support to advocate for the ratification and implementation of the CRPD, making
this an ideal opportunity to support self advocacy of persons with disabilities and capacity building of their
representative 2rganizations, in parallel with including the CRPD in human rights dialogue with partner
3. More specific comments on some of the objectives
- We would like to see stronger statements related to the EC 's support for women's political participation.
Though more countries (the latest is India) have managed to set a quota for women in national parliaments,
this means very little as either the quotas are not met because not enough women are ready to take up the
positions, or women who are taking the positions are put there by political parties that purposedly put women
who are incapable to fulfil the functions. So, targets need to be set to really change the uneven playing field,
to empower women to be able to effectively take up the political functions in the parliament.
- We would like to suggest that the EU in all its policy lines and programmes, should specific allocation for
women organisations and networks working on these issues. So, in addition to separate attention and
budget line for women, an allocation for women within each budget line and programme.
- In Objective 2 (49), we suggest to add, after “Themes will derive from those local concerns and priorities
which are conducive to mobilising broad support and effective outcomes (for instance, action of civil
society organisations supporting the adoption of NGOs laws respectful of international standards,
action aiming at legislative change to promote women’s rights, non-discrimination”:including non-
discrimination of persons with disabilities.
- In Objective 2 (54), we suggest to add, after “Moreover, regional civil society activities in the following areas
may be supported (non exhaustive list): women in politics, domestic violence, female genital mutilation and
all forms of cultural and traditional coercions, trafficking in human beings and all forms of modern slavery,
rights of indigenous peoples and persons belonging to minorities”: including the rights of persons with
- Under Objective 2 the issue of criminalization of CSO and shrinking political space should be highlighted
more explicit under objective 2 and taken up as an action area.
- It would be additionally good if the monitoring and documentation work of CSOs could be mentioned as one
of the thematic focus, because monitoring (e.g. on all human rights, but also on ESC-Rights) is still at an
early stage and not well developed.
- Although we welcome the fact that all EU Guidelines on Human Rights have been included in the SP 2011-
2013, we would like to highlight the fact that the budget remains as low as before. We could therefore
wonder how the EC intends to implement actions covering all Human Rights aspects with such a limited
- Attention for Human Rights Defenders should not only be a programme in itself, but clear mechanisms
should be put in place in each country to protect human rights defenders participating and partnering in the
EU programmes. In this special attention needs to be reserved for women human rights defenders.
- In Objective 3 (71), we suggest to add, after “The EIDHR will, inter alia, support actions which aim at
preventing child recruitment or promoting their early release, enhancing children’s participation in
disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes and transitional justice frameworks,
tracing family members, promoting redress and social reintegration, supporting psycho-social and
rehabilitation programmes focused on children”: fully taking into account the individual nature of
specific needs that might result from impairment and/or disability
- It would be good to mention that the international and regional frameworks and networks can and should
also cover ESC-rights.
- Under paragraph 7, on page 5, the document mentions that “The continuing concern about the need to
maintain a clear priority for civil society, as compared to support for intergovernmental bodies or EU
Election Observation Missions, has led inter alia to a Commission Statement on Election Observation
Missions entered into the minutes of the Council when adopting the EIDHR Regulation, and the creation
of a separate budget article for EU Election Observation Missions. The Commission’s respective
commitments are reflected in the present Strategy Paper. “
Some clarification on the creation of a separate budget article would be needed, as the way it is presented
for the moment, both on the financial allocation page and on page 27 (indicative financial allocation”), it still
seems that the total funding of 105 M EUR will remain for expenditures related to the implementation of the
EU Election Observation Missions.
Nevertheless, in the recently adopted Council Conclusions on “Democracy Support in the EU’s external
Relations” (which is referred to in the SP), clear emphasis is made on the important role local actors can
play to democracy support, but also to encourage the EU to keep on looking for innovative ways to involve
civil society, political parties, the media and other nongovernmental political players in the dialogues:
“EU democracy support should include a special focus on the role of elected representatives and political
parties and institutions, independent media and civil society. The EU support should take into account the full
electoral cycle and not focus on ad hoc electoral support only.” (page 8 of Council Conclusions)
“A number of dialogues are often ongoing with partner countries at various levels with aspects pertaining to
democracy building processes1. Efforts should be made to use “these different dialogues in a more
coherent, consistent and coordinated manner, and best practices, assessments and experiences in this
regard should be shared. The EU should continue its established practice of looking for innovative ways to
involve civil society, political parties, the media and other nongovernmental political players in the dialogues.”
(page 11 of Council Conclusions)
We have on more than one occasion urged the EC to fund these EOM from geographic envelopes, but it
seems that our concern has still not been taken into consideration.
- Although we are pleased to see the addition of: “seek ways to ensure enhanced support to domestic
observers” to paragraph 91 of the revised Strategy Paper, we are concerned about the deletion of the
reference to post-conflict elections from the same paragraph.
As we stated during the consultation meeting in November 2009, we believe that support to electoral
processes in post-conflict countries should be included under Objective 5.* The European Commission
supported our view and inserted the following reference in the version of the draft Strategy Paper which was
circulated shortly after that meeting: “look into ways to engage in post-conflict elections.”
We would, therefore, ask that the European Parliament recommends that a reference to elections in post-
conflict countries is included under Objective 5 in the EIDHR Strategy Paper (2011-2013).