Aug 23

Evaluation Human Rights Facility China

The assignment was to assess the level of coherence between the Embassy’s human rights project portfolio, which included rule of law and preservation of Tibetan culture projects, with the priorities of the bilateral human rights policy and EU policy. Furthermore, advice was required on the effectiveness and efficiency of the deployment of people and resources in managing the project portfolio. The assessment resulted in recommendations on how to streamline the portfolio and how to improve the system related to project proposal reviews, appraisal and project management.


In 2001 the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China initiated a modest programme to finance projects intended to contribute to improving the enjoyment of human rights in China. Over the years the budget grew to reach almost €2 million in 2009, covering a portfolio of 19 projects. The assignment was to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the programme and formulate recommendations for improvements.


The evaluation covered the period 2006-2009 because in 2006 a human rights grant facility (Facility for Strategic Activities on Human Rights and Good Governance (FSA)) was established, from which projects in two sub-programmes were funded:

  • Sino-Dutch Programme on Legal Cooperation, aimed at strengthening the rule of law in China;
  • Sino-Dutch Programme on the Preservation of Tibetan Culture, aimed at preserving Tibetan culture.

The assignment was to:

  • assess whether there is sufficient coherence between the project portfolio and the priorities of bilateral human rights policy and EU policy in this respect;
  • assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the resources used (match between people and resources);
  • formulate options to reduce the administrative burden of the current project portfolio and the current set-up of the system related to project proposal reviews, appraisal and management.

The subject of the evaluation was the coherence and consistency within the programme and the overall management and efficiency of the programme. The implementation processes of the individual projects funded by the programmes did not form part of the evaluation. Nevertheless, the question of whether the separate projects contribute to the overall strategic goals of the programmes was relevant and was therefore also addressed. Organisations receiving financial support in China were expected to provide valuable insights related to how they experienced the overall management and efficiency of the programmes. Therefore a number of funding recipients were interviewed as part of the evaluation process.

The evaluation was conducted by Marcel Zwamborn, Human European Consultancy managing partner, and Kathinka Fürst, resident China expert, with advice from Benjamin van Rooij (professor and expert in Chinese law and legal development cooperation). Interviews were held in The Hague and in Beijing.

In the final report various options to improve the efficiency of programme management were formulated.

Report(s) / events

The evaluation report is not public.

Main findings

It was found that the projects funded under the legal cooperation programme were quite relevant in that they addressed several of the most pressing human rights issues in the Chinese context and matched with the overall priorities of Dutch and EU human rights foreign policy. Projects were deemed mostly effective at the output level, but effectiveness at the level of longer term impact on the human rights situation was difficult to assess.

With regard to projects intended to support the work of restoring religious buildings and improve the position of Tibetan artisans, it was concluded that relevance and effectiveness were questionable if there was no demonstration and evidence that these projects actually contributed to the enjoyment of religious freedom and Tibetan culture. It was therefore recommended that more guidance be given to funding applicants to indicate more clearly in their applications how the project would contribute to the enjoyment of religious freedom and Tibetan culture.


Evaluation of projects funded in China through the Human Rights Facility of the Netherlands (2009-2010)

Netherlands, China

Related publications

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