Human Rights Based Impact Assessment: the European Commission
Human Rights Based Impact Assessment: the European Commission

In 2004, the Commission started the process of assessing the impact of its EIDHR programming activities with IHRN contributing Karen Kenny, in an advisory role. This process is on-going, and involves identifying human rights based indicators for the specific EIDHR objectives and developing guidance for their use in practice by both EC officials and applicants for funding.


In May 2001, the EC approved a specific Communication on Human Rights and Democratisation in Third Countries providing a series of strategic guidelines for the European Commission. It also introduced the practice of multi-annual programming for the ‘European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights’ (EIDHR).

The Communication identifies a number of ways in which the Commission can act effectively:

      • Promote coherent and consistent policies in support of human rights and democratisation: between Commission policies; between those policies and other EU action - especially the Common Foreign and Security Policy; and between EU and Member States policies - especially as concerns the mainstreaming of human rights through development, and other, assistance.

      • Give higher priority to human rights and democratisation in EU relations with third countries and take a more pro-active approach in political dialogue, trade and external assistance.

      • Adopt a more strategic approach to the EIDHR, matching these programmes with EU commitments on human rights and democracy. The Communication identifies four ‘thematic areas’ in which the EIDHR should devote most of its resources: i) democratisation, good governance and the rule of law; ii) abolition of the death penalty; iii) torture, impunity, international tribunals; and iv) Racism, xenophobia and discrimination against minorities and indigenous peoples. Twenty-nine ‘focus countries’ were identified, while flexibility was also retained to respond to urgent needs. EIDHR provides approximately 100 such grants to organisations – governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental each year.