Building on its key strength, which is the ability to operate without the need for host government consent, the EIDHR is able to focus on sensitive political issues and innovative approaches and to cooperate directly with local civil society organisations that need to preserve independence from public authorities. It thus provides for great flexibility and increased capacity to respond to changing circumstances.

The EIDHR can grant aid where no established development cooperation exists and can intervene without the agreement of the governments of the host country. It can support groups or individuals within civil society defending democracy as well as intergovernmental organisations that implement the international mechanisms for the protection of human rights.

Work with, for and through civil society organisations gives the EIDHR its specific profile. Assistance under the EIDHR complements other tools that are used to implement EU policies for democracy and human rights. These range from political dialogue and diplomatic initiatives to various instruments for financial and technical cooperation, including the Development Cooperation Instrument [FH1] and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument[FH2] . It also complements the more crisis-related interventions of the Instrument for Stability[FH3] .

Launched in 2006, the EIDHR replaces and builds upon the European Initiative (2000-06). It funds more than 1,200 projects [FH4] in over 100 countries.

Its key objectives are to:

·       enhance respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries and regions where they are most at risk;

·       strengthen the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democratic reform, in supporting the peaceful conciliation of group interests and in consolidating political participation and representation;

·       back initiatives in areas covered by EU guidelines, which notably exist in support of dialogue on human rights, assistance for human rights defenders, the fight against the death penalty and torture, efforts to protect children in armed conflicts, and action combating violence against women and girls;

·       support and strengthen the international and regional framework for the protection of human rights, justice, the rule of law and the promotion of democracy;

·       build confidence in and enhance the reliability and transparency of democratic electoral processes, in particular through monitoring electoral processes.