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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.

Human rights in Belarus: The EU’s role since 2016

05-06-2018

This study provides an overview of the European Union’s contribution to promoting and protecting human rights in Belarus since 2016. This analysis presents the main human rights trends in Belarus, examining legislation, policy commitments and violations of human rights. While the Belarusian government has made nominal concessions towards the EU, no systemic progress in terms of human rights has been made in the post-2016 period. The study also describes and assesses the EU’s human rights promotion ...

This study provides an overview of the European Union’s contribution to promoting and protecting human rights in Belarus since 2016. This analysis presents the main human rights trends in Belarus, examining legislation, policy commitments and violations of human rights. While the Belarusian government has made nominal concessions towards the EU, no systemic progress in terms of human rights has been made in the post-2016 period. The study also describes and assesses the EU’s human rights promotion activities in bilateral EU-Belarus relations, within the context of the Eastern Partnership multilateral dimension and in regard to financial assistance. Although the EU has expanded the range of its political dialogue with Belarus since 2016, it has had very little influence over the human rights situation in the country. The EU’s impact has been limited not just because of the very nature of the Belarusian regime. EU institutions and member states have increasingly prioritised geopolitical interests as well as the stability and resilience of Belarus over human rights concerns. The EU should increase efforts to mainstream human rights in all aspects of its relations with Belarus and find a better balance between ‘normalisation’ and ‘conditionality’ based policy approaches vis-à-vis the country.

Išorės autorius

Gisele BOSSE, Alena VIEIRA

The 2017 Sakharov Prize

05-12-2017

Established in 1988 by the European Parliament, the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is awarded each year in December to individuals or organisations for their outstanding achievements in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms. By awarding the 2017 Prize to the Venezuelan Opposition, the Parliament denounces the situation in Venezuela, re-affirms its support to the democratically elected National Assembly, calls for a peaceful transition to democracy, and pays tribute to the Venezuelan ...

Established in 1988 by the European Parliament, the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is awarded each year in December to individuals or organisations for their outstanding achievements in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms. By awarding the 2017 Prize to the Venezuelan Opposition, the Parliament denounces the situation in Venezuela, re-affirms its support to the democratically elected National Assembly, calls for a peaceful transition to democracy, and pays tribute to the Venezuelan people, in particular to those who have been unjustly jailed for expressing their opinions.

Sakharov Prize Finalists 2017

04-12-2017

Short presentation of two Sakharov Prize Finalists 2017.

Short presentation of two Sakharov Prize Finalists 2017.

Shrinking space for civil society: the EU response

12-04-2017

The EU has developed an impressive range of policy tools for pushing back against restrictions on civil society across the world. It has gradually improved the way it deploys these instruments and has helped protect many activists at risk. Notwithstanding this, the EU needs to sharpen its ‘shrinking space’ strategy. This study suggests a range of precise policy changes it should contemplate to this end. It advocates a number of strategic guidelines that could help make the EU’s responses more proactive ...

The EU has developed an impressive range of policy tools for pushing back against restrictions on civil society across the world. It has gradually improved the way it deploys these instruments and has helped protect many activists at risk. Notwithstanding this, the EU needs to sharpen its ‘shrinking space’ strategy. This study suggests a range of precise policy changes it should contemplate to this end. It advocates a number of strategic guidelines that could help make the EU’s responses more proactive; better able to tackle the broad structural elements of the shrinking space; fully balanced between political and development approaches; and geared towards building more inclusive alliances against new restrictions on civil society.

Išorės autorius

Richard YOUNGS (Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe, Belgium and Professor at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom) and Ana ECHAGÜE (independent consultant)

Fit for Purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the Criminalisation of Humanitarian Assistance to Irregular Migrants

28-01-2016

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. With renewed efforts to counter people smuggling in the context of an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees into the EU, it assesses existing EU legislation in the area – the 2002 Facilitators’ Package – and how it deals with those providing humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants. The study maps EU legislation against the international ...

This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee. With renewed efforts to counter people smuggling in the context of an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees into the EU, it assesses existing EU legislation in the area – the 2002 Facilitators’ Package – and how it deals with those providing humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants. The study maps EU legislation against the international legal framework and explores the effects – both direct and indirect – of the law and policy practice in selected Member States. It finds significant inconsistencies, divergences and grey areas, such that humanitarian actors are often deterred from providing assistance. The study calls for a review of the legislative framework, greater legal certainty and improved data collection on the effects of the legislation.

Išorės autorius

Sergio CARRERA, Elspeth GUILD, Ana ALIVERTI, Jennifer ALLSOPP, Maria Giovanna MANIERI and Michele LEVOY

Standing up for human rights defenders around the world: What is the EU doing?

10-12-2015

Support for human rights defenders (HRDs) is a long established component, as well as one of the major priorities, of the EU’s external human rights policy. With the adoption in 2004 of EU Guidelines on HRDs, the EU has established a set of concrete measures for protecting HRDs at risk, including the provision of emergency aid. The Guidelines encourage EU diplomats to take a more proactive approach, by establishing contact with HRDs and intervening on their behalf when they are at risk. The European ...

Support for human rights defenders (HRDs) is a long established component, as well as one of the major priorities, of the EU’s external human rights policy. With the adoption in 2004 of EU Guidelines on HRDs, the EU has established a set of concrete measures for protecting HRDs at risk, including the provision of emergency aid. The Guidelines encourage EU diplomats to take a more proactive approach, by establishing contact with HRDs and intervening on their behalf when they are at risk. The European Commission manages a financial instrument to support HRDs working in the world's most dangerous situations. A Human Rights Mechanism managed by NGOs with EU financial support has also been launched in order to enhance the effectiveness of EU action on behalf of HRDs. All this makes the EU a major supporter of HRDs in the world. The European Parliament has been a long-time advocate of a comprehensive EU policy on HRDs, actively contributing to its shaping. It has drawn attention to the difficult situation of HRDs in many countries through its urgency resolutions on human rights breaches in the world, some of which have specifically dealt with individual HRDs facing particular threats. It can also organise hearings with HRDs, issue statements about cases of HRDs at risk, or raise the plight of HRDs during visits by its delegations to the countries concerned. The EP’s Sakharov Prize is the EU's most visible action in favour of HRDs. Its impact is significant on laureates, providing them with recognition and, in many cases, indirect protection.

Azerbaijan: Human rights situation

08-10-2014

Azerbaijan is considered by many international NGOs to be an authoritarian country in which civil and political rights are severely restricted and frequently violated. The EU may soon be ready to agree on a Strategic Modernisation Partnership with Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, the Council and the EP have stressed deep concerns about the persecution of human-rights defenders in the country.

Azerbaijan is considered by many international NGOs to be an authoritarian country in which civil and political rights are severely restricted and frequently violated. The EU may soon be ready to agree on a Strategic Modernisation Partnership with Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, the Council and the EP have stressed deep concerns about the persecution of human-rights defenders in the country.

Assessing the Implementation of the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders - The Cases of Kyrgyzstan, Thailand and Tunisia

18-06-2013

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the formation of the European Action Service, human rights defenders have received renewed attention in EU external relations. In June 2012 the EU launched its Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy including some benchmarked actions to take on behalf of HRDs and calling on EU Delegations and EU Member States missions to prepare human rights country strategies (HRCS) and to update the strategies annually. The 2008 revised ...

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the formation of the European Action Service, human rights defenders have received renewed attention in EU external relations. In June 2012 the EU launched its Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy including some benchmarked actions to take on behalf of HRDs and calling on EU Delegations and EU Member States missions to prepare human rights country strategies (HRCS) and to update the strategies annually. The 2008 revised European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (the Guidelines) provide a number of important recommendations for the EU and its Member State missions which have resulted in many good practice actions toward support and protection of HRDs. This study investigates the effective implementation of the Guidelines in Kyrgyzstan, Thailand and Tunisia, primarily from the viewpoints of diplomats and HRDs, with focus on the latter. Findings of this study suggest effective implementation of the Guidelines is uneven across European missions and there needs to be a joining up of the Guidelines’ recommendations with the new HRCS process. Recommendations to the EU and the European Parliament include mainstreaming knowledge of the Guidelines throughout EU sections and missions, taking a more considered approach to engagement with HRDs to create enabling human rights environments and ensuring attention to the most vulnerable HRDs.

Išorės autorius

Karen BENNETT (Human Rights at the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute - HRSJ, London Metropolitan University, the UK)

Supporting Ombudsman Cooperation in the Eastern Partnership Countries

15-12-2011

This study has been commissioned by the European Parliament as an input to the analysis of the international, in particular European Union’s, assistance to national human rights institutions in the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Since the calls on Belarus so far have failed to result in the establishment of such an institution in this country, the study focuses only on Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. While noting the strengthening of the standing and a considerable progress ...

This study has been commissioned by the European Parliament as an input to the analysis of the international, in particular European Union’s, assistance to national human rights institutions in the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Since the calls on Belarus so far have failed to result in the establishment of such an institution in this country, the study focuses only on Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. While noting the strengthening of the standing and a considerable progress in work of the analyzed institutions, the study refers to the assessments presented by them, as well as to external opinions that emphasize the need to continue programmes of support offered to these institutions. Such support is relevant to both the capacity-building, including networking and exchange of good practices, and ensuring appropriate impact and independence of these institutions within the state structures. In this context, the study proposes several steps to be taken by the EU, and in particular by the European Parliament. The guiding idea of these suggestions is the adoption of a focused and streamlined strategic approach, envisaging a time-frame for the European Union’s engagement which would allow for achieving sustainable results.

Išorės autorius

Zdzislaw KEDZIA (Adam Mickiewicz University, POLAND) in cooperation with Jakub JARACZEWSKI (Adam Mickiewicz University, POLAND)

Būsimi renginiai

25-06-2019
Meeting EU energy and climate goals: Energy storage for grids and low-carbon mobility
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