Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

On February 27, 2012, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah formally launched the Agency’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (DRG Center). As mandated in the QDDR, the DRG Center serves to elevate and integrate democracy, human rights and governance within the Agency’s overall development portfolio.

Learn, Serve and Influence: Leading a Global DRG Sector

As the hub of global DRG, the Center focuses its efforts on advancing policy changes, working with over 90 field missions worldwide to developing innovative programs and sponsoring cutting edge research project through a vibrant network of academic partners and implementing organizations. The Center also supports field missions in the design of new DRG strategies and field assessments, manages global mechanisms, provides technical support during periods of crisis or opportunity, and conducts evaluations of mission programs.

The DRG Center will pursue this goal through three strategic objectives:

LEARN: Increase knowledge on the global advancement of democracy, human rights and governance to determine what works and does not work.

The Learning Agenda includes:

  • A set of evaluative questions (or development hypotheses) linked to the Agency’s DRG portfolio that, when answered (or tested), will enable the Agency to assess, design, implement, and evaluate more effective programs.
  • The learning agenda is pursued through various types of activities — including a learning culture, impact evaluations, performance evaluations, evidence summits, retrospective analyses, science and technology “challenges,” survey research, assessment tools, research-oriented Annual Program Statements, partnerships with academic institutions, knowledge databases, and advocacy for learning-supportive policies.

SERVE: Improve the quality and impact of the democracy, human rights and governance technical assistance that the Center provides to USAID Missions abroad.

The DRG Center serves the field by:

  • Providing effective technical assistance as requested by Missions.
  • Offering 14 global mechanisms that provide state-of-the art programming, expertise, and urgent funding.
  • Creating practical knowledge, through its learning agenda, to improve technical assistance at every stage of the program cycle — from assessment to design to implementation and evaluation.

INFLUENCE: Demonstrate the value DRG serves in democracy, human rights and governance in key USAID, U.S. Government, and multilateral strategies, policies and budgets.

One strategy that the Center is advancing is integrating DRG programming into other development sectors. Many of the constraints to economic growth and public service delivery relate to poor government legitimacy, weak governance capacity, and limited transparency and accountability. Improved governance can lead to greater achievement and sustainability of development gains.

The Agency Action Plan for Cross-Sectoral Integration will:

  • Identify key entry points for integration within Agency sectors and initiatives.
  • Build Agency capacity to integrate DRG principles, practices, and analytical tools through training and technical assistance.
  • Increase the evidence base to demonstrate the value added of integrated approaches to development.
  • Facilitate the scale-up of integrated approaches through the streamlining of Agency policy and funding guidance.

Elections and Political Processes Fund:

The Elections and Political Processes (EPP) Fund provides assistance for critical, unanticipated electoral and political processes worldwide. Since it was established in 2006, the EPP Fund has provided more than $208 million to 80 countries or regions. All USAID Missions may apply for support from the EPP Fund.

To be considered for funding, Missions’ applications must meet at least two of the three following criteria: addresses snap elections or other unanticipated needs; exploits a specific and narrow window of opportunity; and proposes unique and innovative approaches.

Global Labor Program:

The Global Labor Program (GLP), a five-year (2011-2016) $37.5 million project, has continued the important work of promoting workers’ rights and strengthening the work of democratic unions and other civil society organizations (CSOs). Implemented by the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the program has two main objectives:

  • Support vibrant, independent, and democratic unions and CSOs that promote labor rights and labor justice.
  • Promote the rule of law and access to justice for all workers, including those in the informal sector and migrant workers, with emphasis on women, youth, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations.

Human Rights Grants Program

The Human Rights Grants Program (HRGP), which has provided $19.2 million to address urgent human rights challenges in over 25 different countries, was established alongside the creation of the DRG Center in 2012 as a direct means to elevate “human rights” equal with democracy and governance. The program supports the development of human rights programs, including innovative projects that respond to urgent or unanticipated human rights needs. This also entails encouraging cooperation with local and regional organizations, and enabling Missions to respond to urgent human rights problems through stand-alone programs or by integrating human rights objectives into current programs and those under design, regardless of sector.

From 2012-2014, 72 grants have been made to advance inclusive development, from bolstering human rights institutions to increasing access to justice for LGBT communities.

Learn more about the DRG Divisions

DRG DivisionsGlobal & Regional Policy DivisionLearning DivisionCross Sectoral Programs DivisionStrategic Planning DivisionDCHA Front OffoceGovernance & Rule oF law DivisionHuman Rights DivisionDRG LeadershipElections and Political Transitions DivisionCivil Society & Media DivisionDRG Sector CouncilEmpowerment & Inclusion DivisionGender Working GroupLeadership & Training

Related Resources

Technical Publications on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

Last updated: July 10, 2015

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