Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

The Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (DRG Center) advances democracy, human rights and governance in support of political freedom overseas. At the same time, the DRG Center contributes to social and economic progress and overall sustainable development by integrating democracy, human rights and governance goals across all development sectors such as global health, food security and climate change.

To pursue this goal, the DRG Center aims to:

  • Learn: Increase knowledge concerning the global advancement of democracy, human rights and governance to determine what works and does not work.
  • Serve: Improve the quality and impact of the democracy, human rights and governance technical assistance that it provides to USAID Missions abroad.
  • Influence: Elevate the role of democracy, human rights and governance in key USAID, U.S. Government, and multilateral strategies, policies and budgets.

Our Work

The DRG Center contributes to the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA)’s efforts to prevent crises and further political transitions by working to strengthen new and effective democratic institutions and enabling peaceful political transitions. It achieves this by strengthening civil society and respect for human rights and supporting effective, democratic governance in mission countries. Some of our work includes: 

Human Rights

Protecting human rights is closely linked to advancing long-term, sustainable development. The DRG Center manages a new Human Rights Grant Program to assist Missions with the development of human-rights programs – totaling up to $8 million annually beginning in FY 2012.

For example, the DRG Center supports the Government of South Africa to strengthen prosecution and adjudication of sexual offenses, in particular those targeted against the LGBT community. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, our funds help secure the release of children from armed groups and provide rehabilitation services including psychological and medical care, and housing in transit centers.

  • Vulnerable Populations: Promoting inclusive development means women, minorities and vulnerable populations benefit from economic growth, opportunity and the expansion of rights. The DRG Center’s Programs for Vulnerable Populations work to reduce risks to vulnerable populations and reinforce the capacities of communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments to provide services and protection for vulnerable groups. This portfolio comprises five congressionally directed programs with a collective FY 2011 budget of more than $42 million. Vulnerable Populations programs, present in more than 70 countries, have developed innovative, state-of-the-art programming for children affected by war; set orthopedic, rehabilitation and wheelchair standards in developing countries; and improved treatment and healing options for torture survivors. It also led worldwide policy change on barrier-free accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities in family and community.Find out more about disability-inclusive development here. 

Elections and Political Processes

Critical development efforts cannot succeed without a legitimate and democratically elected government that is responsive and accountable to its citizens. The DRG Center’s Elections and Political Processes (EPP) Fund provides assistance in cases of critical unanticipated need to support free and fair electoral and political processes in mission countries. Since the Fund was established in 2006, $111 million of assistance has been provided to 66 countries. In 2012, more than $30 million went to programs in 34 countries.

In FY 2012, EPP Funds expanded political participation by training more than 9,800 domestic election observers and officials, and providing voter and civic education reaching more than 6.5 million people.

Related Resources

Technical Publications on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

DRG Center-sponsored Research and Innovation Grants


Contact Us

For more information on the Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, contact the main office line at 202-712-1892.

Last updated: June 20, 2013

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