The European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. Human rights and democracy are inextricably connected. Only in a democracy can individuals fully realize their human rights; only when human rights are respected can democracy flourish.
In supporting democratization processes, the EU recognises the crucial importance of encouraging broad participation in political decision-making processes and local ownership of development processes.
Locally driven democratisation processes and initiatives are supported by the EU through an appropriate mix of financial and political instruments adapted to the specific situation of each country, as long as such initiatives are compatible with international human rights standards. While EC geographical programs ensure institutional support for national reform processes and democratic institution-building, the EIDHR supports local actions aimed at empowering disenfranchised groups, promoting dialogue and mediation between diverse interests within societies and encouraging political pluralism, transparency, accountability and consultation.
Where the political environment is particularly restrictive towards civil society, we aim to promote human rights and protect democracy activists, particularly by supporting the freedom of opinion and expression, the freedom of association and peaceful assembly, the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and the freedom of movement.
To support home-grown/local democracy efforts, we work with a wide range of partners, from grass-roots organisations to international parliamentary associations and from advocacy and watch-dog organisations to political foundations, trade unions and the media.
The projects implemented so far have resulted, among others, in legislative changes – for example on electoral legislation in Moldova or the ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute in Chile -, in better information, media monitoring, and transparency of elections - for example in the Philippines -, strengthening parliaments and political parties - in Yemen and Tajikistan -, and increased participation of under-represented groups in decision making and/or political life in general – for example of women in Azerbaijan and Ghana, of youth in Kyrgyzstan and of indigenous communities in Bolivia.