The program aims to ensure that the people of Eastern Africa benefit from a more inclusive, equitable and accountable governance, access to justice, human rights and the rule of law.

Eastern African countries are facing crisis in democratic governance and the rule of law in terms of weak states, challenges in managing diversity, insecurity and chronic conflict including the growing threat of international terrorism. The region also faces governance challenges including endemic corruption. In addition, the region has been riddled violent elections and in some cases resistance to peacefully transfer power from one government to another. Although many countries in the region have good constitutions and laws, constitutionalism is not a universal practice and the rule of law is not always adhered to. The region is also characterized by weak and fragmented civil society, compounded by shrinking civic space that has restricted operations of civil society.

The program aims to achieve the following specific objectives

  • Promotion and protection of civic spaces and democratic institutions
  • Promotion of tolerance, pluralism and peaceful co-existence
  • Advancing accountability for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law by states and armed groups
  • Ensuring adherence by security intelligence agencies to international human rights law and domestic human rights norms

The key priority areas of the program include:

  • Elections

    Fostering free, fair and credible elections as well as inclusive elections where women and other marginalized groups such as youth, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons participate in elections.
  • Anti-Corruption

    Seeks to build movements to demand greater accountability for corruption and wasteful management of public resources in Eastern Africa. This will also combine a holistic approach to corruption and a targeted sector approach with a view to appeal to the interests and grievances that different sections of society would like protected or advanced.
  • Constitutional and Governance Reforms

    Seeks advance citizen participation in constitution-making, cultivate a culture of constitutionalism, improve access to justice and advocate for governance systems that are responsive and accountable. This will also seek to strengthen civil society oversight and capacity to build movements that advance people-centered democratization. Additionally, this aims to strengthen capacity of oversight and accountability institutions such as parliament; national human rights institutions; offices of ombudspersons; and the judiciary.
  • Accountability for Grave Crimes

    Seeks to support the victims of grave crimes, gross violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law to achieve accountability in national, regional and international judicial forums or other alternative forums. It also seeks to support development of reparations policy and advocacy for accountability. In addition, the portfolio will support investigations, documentation and preservation of evidence for both litigation and advocacy purposes as well as support advocacy for strengthened frameworks on witness protection.
  • Counter-terrorism

    The priority under this portfolio focuses on investing in the development of a resource of knowledge on countering violent terrorism by supporting the growth of research and documentation capacity. This also seeks to support programming to respond to human rights violations and to inform human rights-based approaches to counter-terrorism by governments in the region. In addition, the portfolio focuses in investing in litigation to address constitutional violations emanating from state responses to terrorism including advocacy for the protection of the rights of communities that are victims of ethnic and religious profiling.
  • Right to Information and Freedom of Expression

    This seeks to support citizens’ right to information by advocating for access to information laws and where already enacted, advocate for their implementation. The portfolio also focuses on protecting alternative spaces and sites of free expression in traditional and new media such film, blogs, visual arts, artivism and writivism and support work to repeal laws that are restrictive of media freedom or criminalize the practice of journalism. Additionally, the portfolio seeks to promote independent journalism and knowledge-generation using diverse media tools.
  • Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    This seeks to empower communities of human rights defenders to protect themselves as well as support civil society organizations to establish in-country mechanisms to respond to threats and protect themselves. This will also build capacity of civil society to enable them to mitigate them in situations where the context is changing and support and encourage better coordination amongst the organizations that protect human rights defenders.