Learning from Mexico Program


1.       End of the Swiss Programme

 As Mexico had joined the OCDE, large funds for development cooperation were no longer available. In 2007, as Switzerland ceased its assistance to several countries, including Mexico, the Swiss government decided to phase-down its Programme Mexico. At the same time, the Swiss Federal Council stressed the importance of GHR work, and declared in 2007:

(DFAE, ‘Peace and human rights in Switzerland’s foreign policy – Report 2006’, approved by the Swiss Federal Council on 15 June 2007, p. 18)

The Swiss DFAE decided to extend the Programme in 2007 and in 2008. This enabled GHR to continue its action at the beginning of the new Administration of President Calderòn to ensure the sustainability of Mexico’s National Programme. It was agreed with the DFAE to conclude the Mexico Programme at the end of the first Semester 2008.

2.       External evaluation

 Simultaneously, the Swiss Government supported the appointment of an external evaluator to evaluate GHR Implementation Programme in Mexico; to clearly identify the objectives of GHR programme in Mexico; to determine the contributions made and the concrete results obtained; and finally, to ascertain the pertinence of the work performed by GHR. The evaluation also aimed to give the evaluator elements to build criteria to describe conclusions and give recommendations that could be applied in the remainder of GHR Mexico Programme or in other experiences, whether in Mexico or in other countries. Professor Santiago Corcuera Cabezut (Mexico), then Chairman of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, was appointed. In his report of 7 July 2007, the evaluator made the following assessment:


The work of GHR in Project GDH Mexico in the area of training/mediation rendered important contributions. The concrete results obtained derived from the planning, development and follow up of the seminar held on 25 and 26 October 2004 and the seminars that followed, are recognized by the participants and by the Evaluator as of high importance. The interaction of GHR with diplomats of the Swiss Government who participated in the project is recognized as having had impact and rendering very useful results (…).

The participation of GHR in the establishment, implementation, and execution of the follow up and evaluation mechanism of the PNDH, which crystallized in the CSE is considered by the Evaluator as of very high importance, based on the contributions and results obtained by GHR. The process of generation, organizational establishment and practical application of the rules of the CSE are directly attributable to GHR.

It can be concluded by the Evaluator that the permanent presence of one GHR’s consultant in the process from May 2006 onwards, was highly positive and rendered real and favorable results in the permanent mediation process between NGOs and the government. That process facilitated channels of communication with GHR when the coordinator of Project GHR Mexico was not present in Mexico.

Notwithstanding the modest dimensions of GHR as an organization, it can be concluded that the results obtained by Project GHR Mexico are considerable. The Evaluator therefore concludes that project GHR Mexico, has achieved a high level of efficiency, considering the relation between the scarce economic resources and the elements used vis-à-vis the specific results obtained’.

As main lessons learned, the evaluator mentioned the timing of the initiation of a process as highly important. It influences the results obtained. Building and implementation of a specific method helps to obtain better results, although flexibility and the ability to react before unpredictable circumstances always need to be maintained. ‘In order for GHR’s future projects to be more efficient and to be able to obtain better results in addition to the identification of objectives and tools for its achievement, the building up of a specific plan, with spaces to act flexibly before unpredictable situations should be implemented’.

The evaluator also highlighted the importance of the perception of impartiality in a mediation and/or facilitation process, and that follow up and evaluation mechanisms with the co-participation between civil society and government render better results that those conducted separately, on the one hand by government and on the other by civil society. He recalled that transitions between governments place the results obtained at stake.

3.       Towards similar initiatives in other countries

 The evaluator also recommended GHR to continue its action after the end of the Swiss Programme, and to start similar activities in other countries.

With the recommendations of Mr. Santiago Corcuera, GHR elaborated an action plan, which was adopted by GHR General Assembly in March 2008. Since then, feasibility studies were conducted on three countries, obviously with different specificities and conditions than those in Mexico, where GHR had been training defenders for several years. GHR initiatives started on Nepal, Sri Lanka and Colombia. Contacts were established with authorities in Timor Leste, Burundi, Peru, and with Tunisia (2011), Botswana (2012) and Morocco (2013).

In its implementation initiatives, GHR experienced that the new mechanism of the UPR was an essential tool to implement human rights inside countries. Finally, since 2011 we also elaborate thematic programmes on women’s rights and on human rights defenders.