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The global compact on refugees: Strengthening international cooperation to ease the plight of refugees in the world

11-01-2019

Recent large-scale flows of refugees and migrants have brought to the world's attention more forcefully than ever the plight of persons who are forced to flee their homes because of war, insecurity or persecution. They have also exposed how ill-prepared the international community has been to deal with this challenge and how uneven the distribution of the burden of caring for such people has been among countries. In 2016, to enhance preparedness for refugee crises, improve the situation of refugees ...

Recent large-scale flows of refugees and migrants have brought to the world's attention more forcefully than ever the plight of persons who are forced to flee their homes because of war, insecurity or persecution. They have also exposed how ill-prepared the international community has been to deal with this challenge and how uneven the distribution of the burden of caring for such people has been among countries. In 2016, to enhance preparedness for refugee crises, improve the situation of refugees and relieve the burden on host societies, the United Nations (UN) member states convened in New York and adopted a declaration paving the way for a non-binding international compact on refugees. They annexed to this declaration a comprehensive refugee response framework that spelled out a series of short- and longer-term measures to address refugee crises. The framework has been applied in several pilot countries and the lessons learnt fed into a global compact on refugees. The compact was drafted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) following broad consultations with various stakeholders, and its definitive version was adopted by the UN General Assembly with a large majority on 17 December 2018. The global compact focuses on international-, regional- and national-level mechanisms for achieving a fairer distribution of the responsibilities related to refugees, and on areas where action can be improved. It has been criticised, among other things, for its non-binding character and for excluding victims of natural disasters from its scope. This is an updated edition of a Briefing published in June 2018.

Uzbekistan comes in from the cold: A new era of reforms

17-12-2018

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished ...

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished. Judges have become more independent, and the parliament has gained new powers. Steps have been taken to make the country's civil service more accountable to citizens. Media and civil society now have slightly more freedom to operate. Political reforms have been flanked by economic liberalisation. Barriers to trade and investment are being lifted, including by floating the som, the Uzbek currency, and by cutting red tape for businesses. On foreign policy, Uzbekistan has repaired ties with all its main international partners, from the US and EU to Russia and China. The most dramatic change has been the shift from Karimov-era confrontation with neighbours, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to regional cooperation. These are highly positive changes, but Uzbekistan still has a long way to go. The economy remains largely state-controlled and uncompetitive, and liberalising reforms need to continue. On the political front, the system remains fundamentally authoritarian, and transition to genuine multiparty democracy seems unlikely.

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 Trade Pillar in the EU-Central America Association Agreement: European Implementation Assessment

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.

Zimbabwe's post-electoral challenges

13-09-2018

As international isolation is no longer economically bearable, Zimbabwe has been searching for legitimacy on the global stage. The post-Mugabe transition government, from a ruling party fraction, committed itself to free and fair elections and invited international observers for first time in 16 years. But much-awaited change in Zimbabwe needs much more than a newly elected president and legislature. The country suffers from institutional dysfunction driven by years of a de facto one-party, military-backed ...

As international isolation is no longer economically bearable, Zimbabwe has been searching for legitimacy on the global stage. The post-Mugabe transition government, from a ruling party fraction, committed itself to free and fair elections and invited international observers for first time in 16 years. But much-awaited change in Zimbabwe needs much more than a newly elected president and legislature. The country suffers from institutional dysfunction driven by years of a de facto one-party, military-backed regime, characterised by rampant corruption and systematic patronage, securing the capture of key economic areas and political institutions by party elites. The victory of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in both the legislative and presidential elections, and the deadly crackdown on the opposition that followed, seriously undermine the prospects for genuine Zimbabwean democracy. Although international observers assessed the electoral process as relatively free and competitive, it took place on an uneven playing field due to years of ZANU-PF domination. EU observers, in particular, expressed strong concern regarding the intimidation of voters, the pro-state bias of the media, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) lack of transparency. Some observers have indeed warned that the ousting of Robert Mugabe, which had raised so many hopes, was just part of a power reshuffle inside Zimbabwe's authoritarian regime, meant to protect the interests of the governing elites. Indeed, powerful forces obstruct change in Zimbabwe, seeking the sole preservation of their economic interests in the renewed political context. It is likely that the newly-elected President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will pursue some economic reform, especially to attract foreign investors, while maintaining political control from above. In this situation, the EU, having declared its readiness to fully re-engage with Zimbabwe, has to use every lever to induce structural changes and to support civil society in this deeply corrupt and dysfunctional state.

Backlash in Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Rights

15-06-2018

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee, is designed to identify in which fields and by which means the backlash in gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights in six countries (Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia) is occurring. The backlash, which has been happening over the last several years, has decreased the level of protection of women and girls and reduced ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee, is designed to identify in which fields and by which means the backlash in gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights in six countries (Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia) is occurring. The backlash, which has been happening over the last several years, has decreased the level of protection of women and girls and reduced access to their rights.

Autorzy zewnętrzni

Borbála JUHÁSZ, indipendent expert to EIGE dr. Enikő PAP, legal expert on gender issues, NANE Women's Rights Association National experts: Christiane Ugbor, Sophie Hansal (Austria), Dr. Gabriella Ilonszki (Hungary), Siusi Casaccia (Italy), Zuzana Maďarová (Slovakia), Laura Albu (Romania), Małgorzata Tarasiewicz (Poland)

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.

Autorzy zewnętrzni

Gisele BOSSE, Alena VIEIRA

Peace and Security in 2018: Overview of EU action and outlook for the future

14-05-2018

This is the first EU Peace and Security Outlook, produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The series is designed to analyse and explain the contribution of the European Union to the promotion of peace and security internationally through its various external policies. The study provides an overview of the issues and current state of play. It looks first at the concept of peace and the changing nature of the geopolitical environment. It then focuses on the centrality of the ...

This is the first EU Peace and Security Outlook, produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The series is designed to analyse and explain the contribution of the European Union to the promotion of peace and security internationally through its various external policies. The study provides an overview of the issues and current state of play. It looks first at the concept of peace and the changing nature of the geopolitical environment. It then focuses on the centrality of the promotion of peace and security in the EU's external action and proceeds to an analysis of the practical pursuit of these principles in three main areas of EU policy: development, democracy support, and security and defence. It concludes with an outlook to the future. A parallel study, published separately, focuses specifically on EU peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans. The studies have been drafted with a view to their presentation at the Normandy World Peace Forum, in June 2018.

Prawa człowieka

01-05-2018

W ramach stosunków zewnętrznych Unia Europejska angażuje się we wspieranie demokracji i praw człowieka zgodnie z zasadami wolności, demokracji oraz poszanowania praw człowieka, podstawowych wolności i praworządności, które leżą u jej podstaw. UE dąży do uwzględnienia problematyki praw człowieka we wszystkich swoich strategiach politycznych i programach, a każdemu działaniu przypisuje inny instrument polityki w zakresie praw człowieka, w tym finansowanie poszczególnych projektów z instrumentów finansowych ...

W ramach stosunków zewnętrznych Unia Europejska angażuje się we wspieranie demokracji i praw człowieka zgodnie z zasadami wolności, demokracji oraz poszanowania praw człowieka, podstawowych wolności i praworządności, które leżą u jej podstaw. UE dąży do uwzględnienia problematyki praw człowieka we wszystkich swoich strategiach politycznych i programach, a każdemu działaniu przypisuje inny instrument polityki w zakresie praw człowieka, w tym finansowanie poszczególnych projektów z instrumentów finansowych UE.

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