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Maldives: New president gives hope for change

15-11-2018

The image of the Maldives seen by many tourists is at odds with the country’s situation. On the one hand, it has just emerged from five year’s rule by iron-fisted Abdulla Yameen, who left a legacy of serious human rights issues. On the other hand, the tiny archipelago, formerly one of the world's poorest countries, risks disappearing before the end of the century, due to climate change. Yet, hope is on the horizon with the surprise outcome of the September 2018 presidential elections, won by opposition ...

The image of the Maldives seen by many tourists is at odds with the country’s situation. On the one hand, it has just emerged from five year’s rule by iron-fisted Abdulla Yameen, who left a legacy of serious human rights issues. On the other hand, the tiny archipelago, formerly one of the world's poorest countries, risks disappearing before the end of the century, due to climate change. Yet, hope is on the horizon with the surprise outcome of the September 2018 presidential elections, won by opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Will the new president be able to change the course of events and address his country's numerous challenges?

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Human Rights

12-11-2018

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political ...

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political arena, human rights are now rejected on ideological grounds. The EU itself has not been spared by the current backlash. In its Member States, a populist wave has empowered political forces that increasingly question the significance of core human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression. In these troubled times for human rights, opinion polls show that European citizens perceive human rights as one of the most important values for them personally and one of the values that best represent the EU itself. Having emerged from World War II and its atrocities, European countries were determined to secure lasting peace, and the Union they created is now founded on respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which guide and shape its legislation and policies. Within the EU, recent action has included new legislation on data protection and access to justice, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and initiatives to combat inequality, discrimination and hate speech. There is also an acknowledgement that more needs to be done to complete the legal framework to combat discrimination and strengthen internal mechanisms for upholding the rule of law. Human rights are additionally a general objective of EU external action. The EU is deeply committed to promoting human rights, as enshrined in international treaties, in its relations with third countries and with other multilateral regional and global institutions. During the last EP mandate, the EU consistently applied and deepened a range of policy approaches that strengthen its role and image as a normative power that inspires others through its example. Maintaining and consolidating this policy remains vital for preserving the EU's image and credibility as a normative power, based on values, that has the capacity to act at a time when the principle of multilateralism is increasingly questioned.

Towards a binding international treaty on business and human rights

08-11-2018

With its extended value chains, economic globalisation has brought numerous opportunities while also creating specific challenges, including in the area of human rights protection. The recent history of transnational corporations contains numerous examples of human rights abuses occurring as a result of their operations. Such corporations are known to have taken advantage of loose regulatory frameworks in developing countries, corruption, and a lack of accountability resulting from legal rules shielding ...

With its extended value chains, economic globalisation has brought numerous opportunities while also creating specific challenges, including in the area of human rights protection. The recent history of transnational corporations contains numerous examples of human rights abuses occurring as a result of their operations. Such corporations are known to have taken advantage of loose regulatory frameworks in developing countries, corruption, and a lack of accountability resulting from legal rules shielding corporate interests. This situation has created a pressing need to establish international norms regulating business operations in relation to human rights. So far, the preferred approach has been 'soft', consisting of the adoption of voluntary guidelines for businesses. Several sets of such norms exist at international level, the most notable being the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Nevertheless, while such voluntary commitments are clearly useful, they cannot entirely stop gross human rights violations (such as child labour, labour rights violations and land grabbing) committed by transnational corporations, their subsidiaries or suppliers. To address the shortcomings of the soft approach, an intergovernmental working group was established within the United Nations framework in June 2014, with the task of drafting a binding treaty on human rights and business. After being reluctant at the outset, the EU has become involved in the negotiations, but has insisted that the future treaty's scope should include all businesses, not only transnational ones. The 'Zero Draft' published in July does not reflect the EU's position on this point. It has been welcomed by experts for its more precise focus on prevention, on effective remedies and access to justice for victims, and on companies' liability for their subsidiaries and suppliers in third countries. The European Parliament is a staunch supporter of this initiative and has encouraged the EU to take a positive and constructive approach. This is a further updated edition of a Briefing published in April 2018, PE 620.229.

EU support for human rights defenders around the world

08-11-2018

Twenty years after the UN General Assembly adopted its Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) to enhance recognition of their role and encourage states to create a more protective environment, many human rights defenders still face significant threats, and the situation of those working in certain areas has even deteriorated. Support for human rights defenders is a long established component of the EU's external human rights policy and one of its major priorities. The EU guidelines on HRDs ...

Twenty years after the UN General Assembly adopted its Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) to enhance recognition of their role and encourage states to create a more protective environment, many human rights defenders still face significant threats, and the situation of those working in certain areas has even deteriorated. Support for human rights defenders is a long established component of the EU's external human rights policy and one of its major priorities. The EU guidelines on HRDs adopted in 2004 outline concrete measures for protecting HRDs at risk, including the provision of emergency aid, and encourage EU diplomats to take a more proactive approach towards HRDs. The European Commission manages a financial instrument in support of HRDs working in the world's most dangerous situations. The European Parliament is a long-standing advocate of a comprehensive EU policy on HRDs and has actively contributed to its shaping. Its urgency resolutions on human rights breaches around the world, some of which have focused on individual HRDs and the particular threats they face, have drawn attention to the difficulties facing HRDs in many countries. Parliament has also organised hearings with HRDs, issued statements about cases of HRDs at risk, and highlighted the plight of HRDs during visits by its delegations to the countries concerned. The Parliament's Sakharov Prize is the EU's most visible action in favour of HRDs. It has a significant impact on laureates, providing them with recognition and, in many cases, indirect protection. This a further updated version of a briefing from December 2017: PE 614.626.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its relevance for the European Union

05-11-2018

Seventy years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has achieved all of the significance its drafters hoped it would. It has served as a foundation for the codification of human rights at global, regional and national level. Even though non-binding, many of its provisions enjoy such undisputed recognition as to be considered part of customary international law and therefore universally obligatory. In the absence of universal ratification of the human rights treaties, the Declaration ...

Seventy years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has achieved all of the significance its drafters hoped it would. It has served as a foundation for the codification of human rights at global, regional and national level. Even though non-binding, many of its provisions enjoy such undisputed recognition as to be considered part of customary international law and therefore universally obligatory. In the absence of universal ratification of the human rights treaties, the Declaration often remains the central reference to be invoked for the denunciation of human rights violations. The EU has fully embraced the Declaration's significance, using it to set standards in its internal legislation and international agreements, and to guide its external policy.

Indivisibility of human rights: Unifying the two Human Rights Covenants?

05-11-2018

This year we celebrate 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration, adopted on 10 December 1948 in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly, expressed an idea that was revolutionary at the time: human rights are universal, indivisible and inter-dependant, and the international community has an obligation to ensure protection of those rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic ...

This year we celebrate 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration, adopted on 10 December 1948 in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly, expressed an idea that was revolutionary at the time: human rights are universal, indivisible and inter-dependant, and the international community has an obligation to ensure protection of those rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) were intended to provide a legally binding codification of the rights listed in the Declaration. Initially drafted in 1954 as a single document, they were opened for signature and ratification separately, in 1966, and came into force in 1976, during the Cold War. In the light of the United Nations General Assembly’s 31 May 2018 mandate for reforms – aimed at simplifying, addressing fragmentation, and improving transparency and accountability – more and more stakeholders ask whether it is time to end the Cold War-era ideological division between civil and political rights, on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights, on the other. Apart from all United Nations' member states ratifying and implementing both covenants, a further step could be to codify the two Covenants in a single document, thereby emphasising their indivisibility and overcoming fragmentation.

Article 17 TFEU: The EU institutions’ dialogue with churches, religious and philosophical organisations

05-11-2018

On the basis of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European institutions hold high-level meetings, or working dialogue seminars, on an annual basis with churches and non-confessional and philosophical organisations. This dialogue, focused on issues upon the European agenda, can be traced back to earlier initiatives, such as that launched in 1994 by Jacques Delors – 'A Soul for Europe' – which opened the way to encompass ethical and spiritual aspects of European ...

On the basis of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European institutions hold high-level meetings, or working dialogue seminars, on an annual basis with churches and non-confessional and philosophical organisations. This dialogue, focused on issues upon the European agenda, can be traced back to earlier initiatives, such as that launched in 1994 by Jacques Delors – 'A Soul for Europe' – which opened the way to encompass ethical and spiritual aspects of European integration. The draft Constitutional Treaty of 2004 included provisions on regular, open and transparent dialogue between EU institutions, representatives of churches and religious communities, and of non-confessional or philosophical communities. Although the Constitutional Treaty was rejected in French and Dutch referenda, its successor, the Lisbon Treaty adopted in 2007 and in force since December 2009, preserved the same provisions in Article 17 TFEU. The European Parliament has adopted numerous resolutions in defence of the principles of freedom of religion and belief as well as religious pluralism and tolerance, and stressed the importance of constant dialogue among, and with, religious as well as non-confessional and philosophical communities. It has regularly organised dialogue sessions within the framework of Article 17 TFEU on subjects of interest for the EU and its citizens. This is a further updated version of a briefing published in January 2018.

The Trade Pillar in the EU-Central America Association Agreement

24-10-2018

The EU-Central America Association Agreement was signed in June 2012 and its trade pillar has been provisionally in force since December 2013. This evaluation assesses specifically the implementation of the trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapter of the trade pillar of this agreement during the five years of its operation. After briefly outlining the trade interests of this agreement, this study situates sustainable development by explaining its legal foundations in the Association Agreement ...

The EU-Central America Association Agreement was signed in June 2012 and its trade pillar has been provisionally in force since December 2013. This evaluation assesses specifically the implementation of the trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapter of the trade pillar of this agreement during the five years of its operation. After briefly outlining the trade interests of this agreement, this study situates sustainable development by explaining its legal foundations in the Association Agreement and reviewing the ex-ante impact assessment conclusions on the issue. It then focuses on the monitoring mechanisms of the Association Agreement, including the European Commission annual reports, Parliament's oversight work, the civil society dialogue, and the results of the meetings of the specialised committee and annual Association Committee and Association Council meetings. Through this review it identifies strengths and shortcomings in the implementation of the TSD chapter and ends by suggesting a number of ways to enhance efforts to support sustainable development in Central America.

Computational propaganda techniques

18-10-2018

The techniques used by anti-democratic state and non-state actors to disrupt or influence democratic processes are constantly evolving. The use of algorithms, automation and artificial intelligence is boosting the scope and the efficiency of disinformation campaigns and related cyber-activities. In response, the EU is stepping up its efforts to protect its democratic processes from manipulation ahead of the European elections in May 2019.

The techniques used by anti-democratic state and non-state actors to disrupt or influence democratic processes are constantly evolving. The use of algorithms, automation and artificial intelligence is boosting the scope and the efficiency of disinformation campaigns and related cyber-activities. In response, the EU is stepping up its efforts to protect its democratic processes from manipulation ahead of the European elections in May 2019.

Humanitarian visas

17-10-2018

90 % of those granted international protection reach the European Union through irregular Means. Member States' failure to offer regular entry pathways to those seeking international protection undermines the achievement of their Treaty and fundamental rights obligations. This situation also has severe individual impacts in terms of mortality and damage to health, negative budgetary and economic impacts EU legislation on humanitarian visas could close the current effectiveness and fundamental rights ...

90 % of those granted international protection reach the European Union through irregular Means. Member States' failure to offer regular entry pathways to those seeking international protection undermines the achievement of their Treaty and fundamental rights obligations. This situation also has severe individual impacts in terms of mortality and damage to health, negative budgetary and economic impacts EU legislation on humanitarian visas could close the current effectiveness and fundamental rights protection gap in EU asylum policy by offering safe entry pathways, reducing irregular migration and result in increased management, coordination and efficiency in the asylum process, as well as promoting fair cost-sharing.

Upcoming events

20-11-2018
Human rights and the external actions of the EU and Member States
Other event -
DROI
20-11-2018
The threats posed by drones to Europe's armed forces
Hearing -
SEDE
20-11-2018
High-Level Conference: 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Hearing -
DROI

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