The evaluation covered three programmes funded jointly by the European Commission and the Council of Europe relating to democratisation and human rights in the North Caucasus region: North Caucasus joint programme to strengthen democratic stability, Russia V Strengthening the rule of law and the protection of human rights and Russia VI Strengthening federalism, regional and local democracy and regional HR protection mechanisms.
The evaluation aimed to assess the effectiveness of three Joint Programmes (JPs) funded by the Council of Europe and the European Union in the Russian Federation (RF) to promote and protect democracy, human rights and the rule of law (see http://www.jp.coe.int/). The three programmes aimed to address the needs of the Russian Federation with regard to strengthening federalism, regional and local democracy and regional human rights protection mechanisms and improving the functioning of democratic institutions at federal and regional levels.
The evaluation was conducted between December 2004 and May 2005 and covered three Joint Programmes. Firstly, the North Caucasus Joint Programme (JP NC) aimed at strengthening democratic stability in the North Caucasus, also "in the light of a crisis in one of the subjects of the Russian Federation, the Chechen Republic". The project was intended to be both an emergency response and a regional programme tailored to the special needs of the region.
Secondly, Joint Programme V (JP V) covered a broad sweep of institution-building, institutional reform, capacity building and training activities - both in the judicial and non-judicial sectors. It ranged from prevention of TB among prisoners, to training of the judiciary, the creation of a regional ombudsman network and ratification of international instruments.
Thirdly, Joint Programme VI (JP VI) had a strong focus on strengthening federalism and regional and local democracy, through legislative assistance aimed at a proper division of powers between the various state bodies and the adequate allocation of financial resources. It also included strengthening the legal basis of the regional ombudsman institution and the consolidation of its horizontal network.
For each JP there was a team comprising one international and one national expert. The international experts all had a professional background in human rights and international law. The national experts were all professionally involved in the development of civil society and the study of federalism, regionalism and municipal issues. All six experts had extensive experience of evaluating governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental programmes and projects.
The teams of evaluators visited more than 15 districts, spread across four Oblast (republic of the Russian Federation), to gather first-hand information on activities under the JPs. They conducted over 150 interviews and covered 65 separate activities funded under the programmes.
Accessing projects, partners and documentation turned out to be quite a challenge. Appropriate contacts were difficult to identify, permission to visit sites or to access information was difficult to obtain and travel in the North Caucasus was restricted due to the hazardous situation from the security perspective.
The report of the evaluation covers the findings in relation to each of the three JPs and includes conclusions and recommendations for JP programmes in relation to effectiveness, relevance, efficiency and sustainability. It also includes overarching conclusions and recommendations for the planning and implementation of JPs.
The report is published on the Joint Programmes website www.jp.coe.int/CEAD/JP/Default.asp?TransID=46 and can also be accessed through the following direct link www.jp.coe.int/Upload/83_EvalRussiaJPs.pdf
In an evaluation of the effectiveness of the programmes the starting point is what they were designed to achieve. While all the JPs were deemed to be relevant, the clear identification of objectives and the design of the programmes left much to be desired.
As the evaluation progressed, interviews with local partners repeatedly revealed financial and managerial problems they had experienced in contacts with the Council of Europe, putting the efficiency of the management of the programmes into question.
Moreover, during the evaluation it soon became apparent that, even in the short term, the effectiveness of any set of activities hinged on the built-in institutional support and political will of the RF authorities. Despite this, the evaluators' findings were positive in relation to the potential sustainability of many JP activities.