As one of Bangladesh's first international development partner, Denmark has been supporting the Government of Bangladesh and the civil society in promoting human rights and good governance since the country's independence in 1971. Especially during the last decade, Bangladesh has made commendable progress in ensuring sound macroeconomic management, consistent GDP growth and advances in human development.
Bangladesh has made commendable progress in meeting several development challenges, which include sound macroeconomic management, consistent GDP growth and advances in key areas of human development. The country has also made some progress towards consolidating democracy. Despite these achievements, the human rights and governance situation is still very bleak. Continuing human rights violations, confrontational politics and systemic corruption are some of the major barriers to development. Very little progress has been made in the area of public sector management reform, which undermines establishment of transparency and accountability. The human rights and democracy programme therefore has been formulated to address the situation outlined above, while ensuring relevance in the current political context in Bangladesh.
How is Denmark supporting human rights and democracy?
Various phases of the Human Rights and Democracy Programme have been designed to support the Government and civil society in their efforts to improve governance and human rights in Bangladesh. Phase I was implemented from 2001-2005, while Phase II started in 2006 and ended in June 2011. Phase III came into effect in July 2011 and will continue up to June 2016.
The overall development objective of HRGG III is similar to Government of Bangladesh’s vision for the governance sector, as outlined in Bangladesh’s second Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). The strategic focus of the HRGG Phase III is to provide support to Government led initiatives aimed at addressing supply side reforms by strengthening institutional and management capacities of key democratic institutions. At the same time, the programme also focuses on the capacity development of the institutions of demand side governance.
The current phase of the programme has two components with three sub-components each.
Public Sector Management comprises three different sub-components:
- Public financial management;
- Local governance; and,
Human Rights component is divided into three sub-components:
- Support to human rights-advocating NGOs;
- Support to the National Human Rights Commission; and
- Support to the Violence against Women program.
The programme interventions have been designed to address supply, as well as demand-side governance. The activities under this programme have been designed in a way that will facilitate the government’s reform initiatives in key areas, including public financial management, decentralization and anti-corruption, as well as will contribute to strengthen key democratic and oversight institutions.
The overall progress of the programme has been satisfactory and in line with the target stipulated in the program. Significant progress towards institutional transparency and accountability has also been made which contributed nationally and locally to strengthen the anti-corruption movement in Bangladesh. The human rights component has maintained its continuity to promoting and protecting vulnerable groups from human rights violations.
The recently commissioned Mid Term Review of the HRGG III Programme concluded that the HRGG III is a relevant programme aligned with both Danish development priorities and the strategic plans of the Government of Bangladesh. The two-tier focus supporting rights-holder’s demands for human rights and quality services, and the strengthening of duty-bearer institutions and deliveries of services, was and remains to be an appropriate choice. The current political crisis clearly demonstrates that democratic institutions and respect for human rights needs further strengthening.