HRSM: Human Rights Support Mechanism | Freedom House

HRSM: Human Rights Support Mechanism

Promote and protect human rights | Mitigate effects of human rights abuses | Provide remedies to victims
Respond rapidly to urgent and unforeseen crises


With the collective experience successfully implementing hundreds of human rights projects in over 100 countries, the Human Rights Support Mechanism (HRSM) combines deep substantive expertise with the practical application essential to achieving the mechanism’s objectives. HRSM, implemented by the PROGRESS consortium, is a USAID funded, five-year leader with associates (LWA) cooperative agreement aimed at implementing USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (DRG) Strategy, specifically objective #3: Protect and promote universally recognized human rights.

PROGRESS provides technical assistance and support to partners and beneficiaries in developing countries around the world to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Improve enabling environments for preventing and addressing human rights violations and abuses;
  2. Implement effective response actions to mitigate the impact of human rights violations and abuses;
  3. Implement effective remedies to human rights violations and abuses;
  4. Identify effective approaches for protecting human rights; and
  5. Implement rapid response activities to urgent or unforeseen crises.

All projects implemented under HRSM incorporate a technical and/or region-specific Applied Political Economy Analysis (APEA) conducted or directed by Pact. In addition, the Senior Gender and Inclusion Advisor is consulted throughout each project.

ENVIRONMENT BUILDING : Strengthening normative frameworks (laws and policies), institutions and actions that help safeguard against violations, and linking cultures of tolerance and respect for the rule of law with the prevention of abuses.

REMEDY Judicial and non-judicial measures to provide redress to individual victims of human rights abuses, combat impunity, and seek accountability of perpetrators.

RESPONSE Actions to help mitigate the impact of abuses, regardless of our ability to end them or “set them right”.


With more than 150 years of collective experience successfully implementing hundreds of human rights projects in over 100 countries, the PROGRESS consortium combines deep substantive expertise with the practical application essential to achieving HRSM’s objectives.

5 Primary Partners

Primary partners work collectively with USAID to identify and implement HRSM-wide strategic priorities, develop and implement Associate Awards and rapid response activities, contribute quality evidence to the HRSM learning agenda, and develop and disseminate knowledge products that benefit the wider human rights community.

PROGRESS—Protecting Global Rights through Sustainable Solutions— was deliberately constituted to convene leading practitioners in each of the key substantive disciplines needed to build and strengthen local systems capable of protecting human rights.

Freedom House is the lead implementer for the LWA and manages and coordinates all PROGRESS consortium efforts and overall award implementation. Freedom House also leads activities that support civil society organizations in their efforts to protect and promote human rights as well as efforts to use ICT as a tool to protect rights.

American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) focuses on providing technical legal assistance, training, research, and resources to strengthen formal justice sector institutions so they can more effectively fulfill their critical roles in protecting human rights. When appropriate, ABA ROLI will include civil society actors in its programming.

Internews leads activities that strengthen media’s ability to protect human rights and provides expertise to strengthen media actors’ physical and digital safety and security.

Pact provides expertise and manages subawards to build the organizational capacity of beneficiaries. Pact also leads initiatives to integrate human rights activities into USAID programs in other sectors and provides expertise in political economy analysis.

Search For Common Ground (SFCG) provides expertise in various areas in the context of peace building, reconciliation, and prevention activities. SFCG also provides security sector reform and community-led conflict resolution services and contributes to programming with youth.

7 Associate Partners 

Associate partners contribute expertise in specific thematic or technical areas on an as-needed basis for Associate Awards and rapid response activities.

Synergía provides expertise to protect and promote the human rights of LGBTI persons.

The International Center for Not-For-Profit Law provides expertise to strengthen legislation governing CSOs engaged in human rights protection.

Mobility International provides expertise to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

OpenGlobalRights supports public opinion polling and surveying related to human rights issues.

Videre provides support for video recording and documentation of human rights abuses.

World Organization Against Torture provides assistance to support victims of torture, enforced disappearances, and summary executions.

World Resources Institute provides expertise to ensure the protection of human rights in the context of environmental and sustainable development challenges.


RIWI provides support in the form of online citizen surveys to further leverage USAID resources. PROGRESS also works with a global law firm that pro­vides pro bono assistance for human rights projects.

Learning Agenda

To support the broader human rights community in responding to today’s new realities, the Leader Award funds learning initiatives that identify and disseminate effective approaches for protecting human rights in both non-permissive and increasingly oppressive environments.

 The HRSM Learning Agenda:

  • Emphasizes comparative learning
  • Enables learning across Associate Awards
  • Builds evidence for human rights-related learning
  • Distributes knowledge products publicly

Dissemination of knowledge and learning: PROGRESS is launching the PROGRESS Community Space on the DME for Peace platform to share knowledge products and other relevant resources with the wider human rights community.

Development of knowledge products and tools: PROGRESS is developing methodologies, training curricula, tools, and case studies to enable future programming to benefit from past experience.

To guide and focus learning initiatives over the five-year life of HRSM, PROGRESS has developed an overarching Learning Agenda.

Associate and Leader Award activities will contribute evidence to help answer the following questions through standardized indicators from the HRSM M&E Plan, as well as additional analytic and evaluative activities undertaken at the conclusion of a project.

  1. What types of support to human rights defenders and institutions most effectively improve enabling environments for human rights outcomes, and what aspects of political regimes, institutions, and society condition the likelihood of success or failure?
  2. What human rights interventions or combination of initiatives help victims of human rights abuses integrate into society or the communities they now live in, or pursue a life after the abuse?
  3. How well does external pressure from civil society organizations, impact litigation, media outlets, and citizen participation improve accountability and transparency compared to internal reforms within judicial and political institutions? And in which combination and sequence are such initiatives most effective?

This program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of PROGRESS and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.