The flexible set-up under the contract provided the European Commission with expert teams to carry out, whenever needed, thematic evaluations of projects and programmes funded in the context of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Evaluated projects covered themes such as the work of torture rehabilitation centres, human rights masters programmes, anti-racism programmes and a multi-annual, multi-country Andean human rights programme. The main focus of the eight evaluations was on the direct impact on participants in and beneficiaries of the project activities, but the evaluations also sought to establish the wider impact of the EIDHR-funded projects or programmes on the situation which originally gave rise to the problems addressed by the project.
The European Commission funded and still funds projects and programmes worldwide under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
The European Commission assigned a consortium of Human European Consultancy, the Netherlands Humanist Committee on Human Rights (HOM) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights to assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and wider impact of a series of projects and programmes funded under EIDHR.
The consortium carried out nine evaluations during the three years of the contract. The projects and programmes to be evaluated were selected by the Human Rights Unit of EuropeAid, which also drafted the terms of reference for each assignment in consultation with key experts from the consortium partners.
The topics for the evaluations were diverse and ranged from thematic to institutional evaluations and combinations thereof, covering topics such as the funding of the Moscow School of Political Science or the torture rehabilitation centres established in various EU Member States.
For each evaluation teams of two to three experts were established who carried out desk studies and subsequently conducted a mission to visit the EIDHR project-implementing partner, identifying and reporting on best practices and lessons that could be learned from the project. The teams of experts were guided and monitored by one of the key experts of the consortium partners.
The project resulted in nine reports and pamphlet summarising the findings of each evaluation. The reports and pamphlet can be found under Related Publications.
The evaluations revealed best practices and lessons learned for each separate evaluation, but also allowed cross-cutting conclusions to be drawn in relation to the relevance and design of projects or programmes supported, as well as their effectiveness, impact and sustainability.
With regard to relevance and design, the conclusion was that in general there was a "match" between the political setting and/or predominant issues within the context in which the programme or project is situated and the objectives of the programme. In addition, the projects mostly properly identified the needs and interests of the target group of intended beneficiaries. However, identifying the interests and potential influence on the project or programme and their influence on the outcome of the project was a challenge for most projects.
The projects were in general seen as effective in terms of meeting the objectives, although a warning was issued by most evaluators that the objectives in their first design were usually too ambitious and needed to be downscaled to a more realistic level. This conclusion applied even more to the level of impact achieved by the projects and programmes and, for most of them, impact at overall societal level was impossible to assess.
An important finding with regard to sustainability was the importance of the relationship between ownership and participation and sustainability, which underlined the importance of stakeholder analysis in the design stage of a project or programme.