The UK’s approach to democracy and human rights

This review explores how effectively the UK aid programme has responded to the emergence of new threats to democracy and human rights.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 18 January 2023
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Democracy, governance and human rights
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Pakistan, Serbia, Tanzania
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Peace, justice and strong institutions

Read the approach paper

Our approach

The review covers UK aid policy, influencing and programmes on democracy and human rights issues between 2015 and 2021. It focuses on policies and programmes aimed at promoting and protecting democracy and human rights from threats, including to civil and political rights. It also explores how aid policies and programmes have taken into account the core principles of equality and non-discrimination, transparency, accountability and participation. Through country case studies, it examines how UK aid has considered economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights of individuals belonging to ‘at-risk groups’ – that is, specific social groups which have been excluded or persecuted (such as LGBT+, religious or ethno-linguistic minorities).

Review questions

We sought to answer the following review questions:

  1. Does the UK have a credible approach to using aid to counter threats to democracy and human rights in developing countries?
  2. How coherent is the UK’s approach to countering threats to democracy and human rights?
  3. How well has the UK contributed to countering threats to democracy and human rights?



Published 20 May 2022

Evidence gathering


Review publication

18 January 2023

Government response

Published 28 February 2023

Further scrutiny

Follow-up published 16 May 2024