The Conflict Pool is a joint fund managed by the FCO, DFID and the MOD. It funds regional programmes in Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and wider Europe. It also supports reform and capacity-building in international organisations, and other cross-cutting thematic work including preventing sexual violence in conflict and protecting civilians. The Conflict Pool’s budget for 2012–13 is £209 million.
Conflict Pool programmes support the UK’s conflict prevention priorities set out in the Building Stability Overseas Strategy (BSOS). These are to support the building of free, transparent and inclusive political systems; to build effective and accountable security and justice sectors; and to increase the capacity of local populations and regional and multilateral institutions to prevent and resolve conflict. Projects supporting human rights fall within each of these priority areas. They include:
- in Afghanistan, projects in Helmand province which will improve access to justice and increase public confidence by strengthening the links between both the traditional and the formal systems of justice and civil society. The programme is funding the development of prisons in Helmand, working with the Afghan government to ensure that the provincial prison, including the facilities for women and juveniles, meets the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners. At the national level, the programme continues to support the work of the Human Rights Commission on human rights education and advocacy and their monitoring and investigation of allegations of human rights abuses;
- in Africa, projects to build the capacity of civil society and in doing so to increase government accountability. In Kenya, for example, a Conflict Pool-funded project supports the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders. The coalition monitors the government’s commitment to the rule of law, especially with regard to the implementation of the new Kenyan constitution, and will also be involved in monitoring the conduct of the national elections in 2013. In Zimbabwe, Conflict Pool project partners are working to promote peaceful and fair elections by training activists to record and log incidents of political violence and hate speech. Another Conflict Pool project in Zimbabwe offers legal support to the victims of human rights abuses and political violence;
- in the Balkans, where the UK remains the biggest bilateral donor in Kosovo, support for the return of internally displaced persons and communities to their place of origin. In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) the Conflict Pool is funding a project to develop guidelines and a training module on witness protection measures, in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. The guidelines are in use in prosecutors’ offices, and the training module has been incorporated into the annual training programme for judges and prosecutors;
- in Central Asia, an initiative to provide human rights training to police in southern Kyrgyzstan. This project aims to improve the links between the police force and local communities, and in doing so to overcome some of the tensions that contributed to ethnic violence in 2010;
- in the North Caucasus, funding for local partners to identify and win individual human rights cases in both domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights, including, in Ingushetia, the first conviction for torture of serving police officers. This was successful not only in providing legal remedy to victims but also in increasing pressure on the authorities to address the impunity of perpetrators and the non-compliance of domestic justice systems with international standards;
- in Sri Lanka, community policing projects in all nine Sri Lankan regions to foster constructive relationships between the police and the communities they serve and to build the capacity of over 200 language societies working with minority groups on language rights awareness-raising, advocacy and litigation. In Nepal, a project supported knowledge and capacity-building in the media to encourage independent, responsible, conflict-sensitive journalism. We also supported local partners promoting independent investigations, criminal prosecutions and improved witness and victim protection to help achieve justice for the victims of human rights abuses committed during the 1996–2006 conflict; and
- in the Middle East and North Africa, the Conflict Pool supports work in Syria, training accountability investigators whose work on gathering evidence has been commended by the UN Commission of Inquiry. We have funded communications, computer and camera equipment to allow Syrian NGOs to report human rights violations and abuses quickly and more effectively. The intention of this and other work in Syria is to compile a body of evidence which can be used subsequently in a court of law to bring those who commit violations and abuses to justice.
We also continue to promote respect for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through work with local Israeli and Palestinian implementing partners. This year, the Conflict Pool has contributed to legal actions which have led to dismantlement of illegal outposts on privately owned Palestinian land, along with the return of hundreds of acres of Palestinian agricultural land in Areas B and C. We have funded groups who monitor and provide access to justice for victims of settler violence and lobby for more robust law enforcement. We have supported work to encourage freedom of movement between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and litigation to promote the right to education, livelihood and the freedom of movement, on behalf of Gazans who wish to seek educational and economic opportunities or family reunification outside the Gaza Strip.