Democracy, Governance and Human Rights


We believe that democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are vital drivers of prosperity and human dignity. We promote transparency and civic engagement and strive to include and empower all marginalized groups.

We work with communities at the grassroots level to help them understand and exercise their rights as citizens. We assist governments in the region to strengthen institutions and mechanisms that reinforce democratic norms and enable transparency and citizen engagement. We partner with civil society organizations to strengthen their capacity to monitor and engage their governments, increase citizen participation in civic matters, and better respond to community needs. We support democratic processes, human and civil rights, media freedom, and transparency and accountability. Throughout our work, we strive to include and empower marginalized groups, including women, children, LGBTI, Afro and indigenous people, and migrants, so that they can exercise their rights and privileges safely and equitably.

Institutional Strengthening

Sustainable protections and guarantees for democratic values and human rights require a mutually reinforcing architecture of laws, policies, procedures, and public entities. Civil society and the private sector have key roles to play in monitoring, supporting, and deepening this process. In Latin America and the Caribbean, many countries have made significant progress in creating and strengthening institutions. Yet these reforms lack sustainability and some institutions remain fragile, afflicted by corruption, political polarization, and growing public mistrust. Too often, public policies and practices are imposed and enforced at the whim of the current administration and not institutionalized within public institutions and bureaucracies.

PADF supports national and local governments, civil society, and the private sector to identify, promote, and implement reforms and policies to enhance transparency, separation of powers, and protections for democratic processes and human rights. We provide technical assistance for legal, statutory, and institutional processes and conduct advocacy to promote their implementation. We support civil society to monitor compliance with standards and legal norms and the private sector to serve as a champion of transparency, accountability, and good governance.

Program Focuses

  • Accountability and Open Government
  • Internet Freedom and Digital Rights
  • Judicial Independence
  • Legislative Strengthening
  • Organizational Capacity Development

Political Participation

The legitimacy of a democracy and protection for human rights rest upon the free, informed, and inclusive participation of its citizens. Public support for democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean has reached the lowest level of support recorded by the Latinobarometro survey since 2001. Indicators including voter turnout, perceptions of corruption, and human rights violations are all trending negatively. The widespread desire to renovate and infuse fresh ideas into politics can be seen in the increasingly common rejection of incumbents and election of democratically elected leaders from non-traditional political backgrounds throughout the hemisphere. Public participation and oversight are essential to ensure that the desire for change is channeled toward democratic and inclusive ends.

PADF supports the participation of all men and women in political processes to strengthen democracy through advocacy, education, monitoring, and training. We support civic activism, civil society organizations, legislatures, and political parties to create and use public spaces for participation and ensure that public policies and services are crafted with the input and for the benefit of all citizens. PADF works with journalists, media organizations, and civil society organizations to facilitate the free flow of independent information to ensure an informed citizenry and to hold government accountable for its responsibilities.

Program Focuses

  • Access to Information and Citizen Oversight
  • Advocacy for Accountability
  • Citizen Participation
  • Electoral Processes
  • Journalism and Freedom of Expression

Human Mobility

Human mobility offers people in difficult situations an outlet to improve their lives. Throughout the world, people are affected by events and forces largely beyond their control. In Central America, violence, humanitarian crises, and lack of economic opportunities cause many people to move in search of safety and opportunities to prosper, yet they are vulnerable and easy targets for abuse, human rights violations, and exploitation. Based on the belief that all people deserve opportunities to improve their lives and thrive wherever they reside, PADF supports comprehensive, mutually reinforcing interventions that address vulnerabilities during each stage of migrants’ journeys. We work with governments, international agencies, local CSOs, and the private sector to trigger economic and social development in countries of origin, transit, and final destination.

PADF supports the rights and resilience of migrants of all types throughout the hemisphere by focusing on three areas of work: access to protection mechanisms, advocacy and awareness raising, and social inclusion. We provide direct assistance to migrants and their host communities, technical assistance and organizational strengthening to civil society organizations, and technical assistance and coordination to government agencies and international organizations responsible for managing migrants. In all interventions PADF uses a holistic approach that accounts for migrants’ humanitarian and economic needs, their psychosocial well-being, and the needs of their host communities.

Program Focuses

  • Addressing Root Causes of Migration
  • Combating Trafficking in Persons
  • Labor Rights for Migrants
  • Protection Mechanisms for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
  • Social Integration
Camila Payan

Camila Payan

Thematic Senior Director – Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights



Joaquín Vallejo

Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights Deputy Director
Anti-Corruption Lead



EVALUATING TARGETED SANCTIONS: A Flexible Framework for Impact Analysis (November 2023, English)

“Anti-Corruption” One Pager (English)

“Anticorrupción” One Pager (Español)

Transparency and Independence in the Appointment Processes of Judicial Authorities in Latin America (English)

“Collective Action in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras” One Pager (English)

“Acción Colectiva en El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras” One Pager (Español)

Estudio sobre el conocimiento y la sensibilización sobre el trabajo doméstico en los países del norte centroamericano (Español)

Citizen Security for All (English)

Seguridad ciudadana para todas las personas (Español)

Shadow Report: Freedom of Expression in the Americas 2020 (English)

Reporte Sombra: Libertad de Expresión en las Américas 2020 (Español)

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