UNDP became an important partner when Indonesia held their first free, democratic election in 1999. The cooperation has succeeded. In 2014, Indonesia conducted elections with minimal support from UNDP.
Photo: Ken Opprann

25 examples of what aid does for human rights and democracy

Norad’s results report is now available in English.

Norad’s results report provides 25 examples of the effect of Norwegian support for democracy and human rights.

- Twenty-five examples do not present the whole picture, but they show the broad variety of interventions, - which together provide a good illustration of the results of Norwegian efforts, says Villa Kulild, Director General at Norad.

Norwegian development aid contributes to securing the rights of vulnerable groups, promoting freedom of speech and strengthening the rule of law, and to the implementation of democratic elections. In 2013, 4.6 billion out of the total 32.8 billion NOK in Norwegian aid went to support of these areas.

A step in the right direction

- The examples demonstrate that many individuals are in a better situation because of Norwegian development aid, and that institutions which promote democracy and respect human rights, have been better enabled to carry out their work, Kulild emphasizes.

- This is a step in the right direction. The work for human rights and democracy increasingly requires efforts to avoid setbacks. It also requires that we are willing to take risks, and that we are able to manage them.

Kulild adds that development aid must build on internal forces for change and strengthen the authorities and civil society in tandem.

Securing rights

The most significant progress has taken place in the sphere of economic and social rights. The proportion of people living in poverty is falling, people are living longer, and more children are getting access to education. 

The picture for civil and political rights is more complex. Freedom of speech, freedom of association and women’s rights have come under pressure in many places.

Improving taxation systems

One example of institution building is the cooperation through Norad’s program Tax for development in Tanzania. To secure human rights and to build an economic sustainable state, Norway has cooperated with Tanzania to make tax revisions in the mining sector.

This has given substantial additional revenue to the Tanzanian government. In one case it was estimated over 237 million NOK in additional tax.

Promoting democracy

Elections are for many states one of the first steps on the road towards democracy. One of the examples in the results report looks at the support to elections around the world from UN’s development program (UNDP). Since 1999, UNDP has strengthened electoral systems and processes in 83 countries.

On average, the organisation is engaged in supporting an election somewhere in the world every two weeks. Norway is one of the largest donors to this work.

If aid for human rights and democracy is to yield results, it must also use local forces that work for democracy and human rights from below.

Norway has supported Ugandan women’s organisations that work to strengthen land rights and combatting corruption. Previously, women with no legal ownership of land had to pay corrupt officials to avoid being moved forcibly. Now they have secured these rights by going to court.

Good and poor results

- It is important to learn from both good and poor results. We will scale up more activities that yield good results, and make changes in or terminate activities that yield poor results, Kulild says, adding that it is also important to remember that aid will never be more than one of many factors that can affect the development.

Norad’s results report also contains a selection of development cooperation statistics. One part provides an overview of development indicators in selected recipient countries, with a particular focus on human rights and democracy, while another one provides general information about Norwegian aid in 2013.

Published 06.05.2015
Last updated 06.05.2015