The 2013 USAID Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance strategy elevated prevention of human rights abuses and the protection and promotion of human rights as both a standalone development objective as well as a cross-cutting one. As stated in the strategy, Human rights include the right to be free from violations of physical integrity (such as torture, slavery and illegal detention); the collective rights of all citizens to enjoy political rights and civil liberties; and equality of opportunity and non discriminatory access to public goods and services. Through this strategy, USAID’s approach to human rights focuses on:

  1. Asserting access to basic services for everyone and countering discrimination that may prohibit access to those services.
  2. Advancing rights, particularly in closed or closing spaces, through DRG sector programming.

The three objectives in this work are:

  • Support mechanisms for protection, mitigation and response to violations against human rights, in particular human rights violations affecting the most vulnerable.
  • Prevent violations by strengthening human rights frameworks, institutions and oversight.
  • Promote human rights principles in accordance with universal values and international norms.

Environment-building emphasizes strengthening the domestic laws and policies, institutions, and actors that help safeguard against abuses. Response focuses on contexts where rights violations are imminent or ongoing, but where there are actions that can be taken to help mitigate the impact of those violations. Remedy emphasizes programs that help individual victims of human rights abuses seek accountability or restitutions, and/or efforts to deter future violations.

This approach empowers people to claim and exercise their rights and ensures that governments provide equal and equitable access to justice for all by enhancing the government’s responsiveness to the needs of the society they are mandated to serve. USAID conducts needs assessments and landscape analyses for country offices for effective design of human rights and rule of law programs meeting local, country-level priorities. USAID supports Human Rights programming globally, undergirded by evidence-based and data-driven learning and research.


Atrocity Prevention and Transitional Justice

Rule of Law & Security


  • Blogs:

  • Photos and Videos:

    • Meet Ainur from #Kazakhstan, a journalist holding government officials accountable to their citizens
    • Hear from Nang Phyu Pyar, a member of Shan State Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee as she promotes the inclusion of women in the ceasefire monitoring process in Burma
    • Meet Aziza, a lawyer from #Uzbekistan who provides services to citizens despite the COVID-19 quarantine to ensure the right to justice:
    • Learn how USAID has supported women’s civil and political rights empowering women leaders in Sri Lanka
Sexual survivors support group in the DRC
USAID assists women who are survivors of sexual violence in the South Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a combination of psychological and economic support.

Sector Overview