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Study "EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders - European Implementation Assessment" - 2022

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Implementation mechanisms of the Human Rights Clause. Case studies on Ethiopia, Tunisia and Vietnam

22-04-2024 PE 754.447 DROI
Summary : On 14 February 2024, a workshop was organised on behalf of the Subcommittee on Human Rights on the effective implementation of the human rights clauses found in the EU’s international agreements. The workshop, firstly, examined best practices available, such as benchmarking and impact assessments as well as monitoring, evaluation and enforcement, highlighting possible improvements for the human rights clause implementation. Representative examples from the existing agreements were given to pinpoint best practices that could guide future reforms. Secondly, academic and civil society experts analysed the effectiveness of human rights clauses through the case studies covering the EU’s agreements with Ethiopia, Tunisia and Vietnam.
Authors : Clair Gammage & Narin Idriz

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights March 2024

At a Glance

Enhancing the protection of human rights defenders (HRDs): Facilitating access to the EU and supporting HRDs from third countries

01-02-2024 PE 754.445 DROI
Summary : This study provides a comprehensive exploration of measures aimed at facilitating access to and expanding support for human rights defenders (HRDs) in the European Union (EU). Its introduction deals with the fundamental issue of defining HRDs which, in turn, will enable visa, borders and migration officers to apply the various recommendations here proposed. The subsequent section delves into the EU’s Visa Code and Handbook, proposing substantial changes to accommodate the needs of HRDs seeking entry and short stays in the EU. For longer stays, the study examines available options within the existing legal migration acquis and possibilities offered by the Temporary Protection Directive. It also proposes a self-standing proposal for a Directive that aims to deal with HRDs’ extended stays in the EU. Socio-economic assistance for HRDs is then discussed by proposing specific possibilities for additional measures, resources and policies at the EU level. The impact of digitalisation and EU databases on HRDs is also examined. Lastly, it presents recommendations categorised as soft-law and hard-law, providing a robust framework to safeguard HRDs and facilitate their access to the EU.
Authors : Elspeth GUILD; Niovi VAVOULA; Vasiliki APATZIDOU

Forcible transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children: Responses and accountability measures

06-12-2023 PE 754.442 DROI
Summary : On 13 November 2023, a workshop was organised on behalf of the Human Rights Subcommittee focusing on the forcible transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children by Russia, which has taken place since 2014 and vastly intensified since the full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022. Ukrainian, EU and third country diplomatic and political efforts to stop the deportations and repatriate children were looked at, along with initiatives by the civil society. The workshop examined the investigations and cases brought before national and international jurisdictions against state actors and individual perpetrators. Challenges on political, legal and practical fronts were scrutinised, leading to recommendations for what the EU could do to help bring the children back. One of the experts shed light on the situation of civilians in the occupied Ukrainian territories more generally. This report brings together the background briefings prepared for the workshop and a summary of the debate with Members, academics, experts from the civil society and EU representatives.
Authors : Andreas Umland, Yulia Ioffe

Cross-border claims to looted art

Summary : This study addresses cross-border restitution claims to looted art, considering Nazi-looted art and colonial takings, but also more recent cultural losses resulting from illicit trafficking. Although these categories differ considerably, commonalties exist. The study highlights blind spots in the legal and policy frameworks and formulates recommendations on how these could be bridged. This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee.
Authors : Evelien CAMPFENS

Strengthening the democracy clause in EU agreements and instruments: Exploring election conditionality

02-10-2023 PE 702.606 DROI
Summary : This briefing considers where electoral conditionality could be included in European Union (EU) relations with third countries and offers three viable options, namely as part of: direct budget support; General Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+); and the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument-Global Europe (NDICI-GE). In all three cases, not only would electoral conditionality incentivise partner countries to adhere to electoral recommendations, but also encourage them to invite international observer organisations to their elections. Within GSP/GSP+, such observation can be understood as a monitoring tool for implementing human rights conventions within beneficiary countries. Moreover, a newly designed thematic regional NDICI-GE instrument could make EU funding conditional on fulfilling recommendations from election observers. The briefing concludes with suggestions on how to enhance the practice of election observation as a foreign policy tool, with the aim of strengthening electoral integrity.
Authors : Armin RABITSCH

Assessment of the implementation of the human rights clause in international and sectoral agreements

15-05-2023 PE 702.586 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This study examines the EU’s policy on human rights clauses in its international agreements since 2014. It focuses on the inclusion of human rights clauses in framework agreements, in line with the 2009 ‘Common Approach’, and how these clauses apply to more ‘specific’ agreements between the parties in sectoral agreements. It also looks at human rights clauses in sectoral agreements, especially sustainable fisheries partnership agreements and financing agreements, contrasting these with timber and selected investment agreements. The study emphasizes the importance of proper monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance with human rights norms. It makes several recommendations including ensuring consistent coverage of human rights clauses across all types of agreements, clarifying their scope and giving consideration to making specific reference to newer human rights, tailoring benchmarks to individual countries, expanding the remit of Domestic Advisory Groups, and exploring additional avenues for reporting potential violations, similar to the Single Entry Point mechanism. It also recommends expanding the ‘general exceptions’ routinely included in trade and investment agreements to allow parties to take measures, not otherwise permitted by the agreement, to implement their human rights obligations.
Authors : Lorand BARTELS

The opposition of models and narratives in the field of human rights.

30-04-2023 PE 702.584 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This In-depth analysis focuses on competing human rights narratives, particularly those that challenge or undermine the priorities set out in the European Union (EU) Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024. It identifies the strategies deployed to advance those narratives internationally, some of the main proponents of those narratives and key motivations for those agendas. The paper provides evidence-based recommendations for ways in which the EU may counter those narratives. In particular, it highlights the need for the EU to advance a human rights-centred approach to development and preventing economic insecurity. Human rights should be prioritised across all EU activities with third parties. Moreover, competing human narratives should be countered by strengthening civil society and seeking new ways to oppose the soft power initiatives being deployed to advance competing narratives globally.
Authors : Rosa FREEDMAN

Commission Proposal for a Regulation on prohibiting products made with forced labour on the Union market: The issue of remedies.

28-04-2023 PE 702.583 DROI
Summary : The European Union (EU) is committed to the elimination of forced labour, a denial of rights of which there are 28 million victims globally. In September 2022, the European Commission proposed a Regulation to ban all products made by forced labour from the EU market (COM (2022) 453). This proposal has been criticised for failing to facilitate remedies for forced labour victims, in line with EU and global standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This Briefing examines the case for including measures to promote access to effective remediation for victims of forced labour located outside the EU into the Commission’s proposed Regulation. First, it outlines the legal framework for EU action to promote remediation for victims of forced labour located outside EU territory, as well as obstacles to accessibility and effectiveness of remediation for victims in the forced labour context. Second, it considers a range of measures to promote remediation for victims of forced labour that could be incorporated in the Regulation and their feasibility. In conclusion, the Briefing highlights changes to the Commission’s proposed Regulation to advance remediation for victims that are feasible and would increase its alignment with international and EU legal and policy commitments.

Strengthening the right to participate: legitimacy and resilience of electoral processes in illiberal political systems and authoritarian regimes

14-03-2023 PE 702.581 DROI
Summary : In 2022, the Human Rights Subcommittee decided to prepare a Recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on how to respond to undemocratic elections by strengthening the human right to participate in public affairs. On 25 January 2023, a Workshop was organised on behalf of the Human Rights Subcommittee to discuss the challenge of elections in authoritarian countries from a human rights perspective. It focused on authoritarian leaders’ strategies to enhance their legitimacy and undermine international democracy standards, as well as proposals for further refining the EU’s human rights and democracy support toolbox. This report brings together the background briefings prepared for the workshop and a summary of the debate with Members, academics and EU representatives.
Authors : Thomas DEMMELHUBER, Richard YOUNGS

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - March 2023

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - January 2023

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine - a legal assessment

14-12-2022 PE 702.574 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : After examining the innovative character of the proposed tribunal, the paper analyses three main interconnected elements linked to the establishment and functioning of the tribunal: the legal basis for its creation; problems of immunity; and questions of enforcement and implementation of its decisions. In the end, taking into account legitimacy considerations which are of crucial importance in this case, the authors evoke two possibilities. A first option would be to ground the tribunal’s creation in Ukrainian domestic law and on its right to self-defence, which would open the door to prosecute foreign nationals for the crime of aggression, complementing it with an agreement with the United Nations (UN) or another (regional) organisation: the tribunal would thus be ‘established by law.’ A second option, more legitimate as it would be based on the UN Charter, would be to interpret broadly existing legal mechanisms, especially the ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution. Given the UN Security Council’s inability to discharge its duties due to the veto of one of its permanent members (Russia), the UN General Assembly could exceptionally defer the crime of aggression against Ukraine to the International Criminal Court. In both cases, however, it must be kept in mind that significant problems of legality remain.
Authors : Olivier CORTEN and Vaios KOUTROULIS

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - December 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Towards an International Anti-Corruption Court?

10-10-2022 PE 702.580 DROI AFET
Summary : Momentum is building globally for the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court, which would have jurisdiction over acts of grand corruption and fill the domestic accountability vacuum in kleptocratic regimes. Before such an institution can become reality, though, a number of practical, political and legal concerns will have to be addressed, for instance in relation to state ratification and cooperation. Hence, this Briefing identifies key issues which the European Parliament should assess and consider when forming its position. However, irrespective of its support for an International Anti-Corruption Court, the European Parliament may also want to strengthen other mechanisms enhancing legal accountability, such as existing international courts or extraterritorial jurisdiction. It may also continue to promote more indirect tools for advancing the fight against impunity such as anti-corruption clauses in trade agreements, targeted sanctions, and global asset recovery.
Authors : Cedric RYNGAERT
Document type


Multilateralism and Democracy. A European Parliament perspective

In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This analysis looks into the complex relationship between two trends in international governance: an increase in multilateral arrangements between countries in order to govern internationally on the one hand, and a lack of democratic control over the decisions taken by multilateral organisations or conferences on the other. Multilateralism in the modern sense refers to an international mode of operation involving peaceful negotiations and diplomacy, also referred to as a ‘rules-based international order’ or ‘rules-based multilateralism’. Several European countries have recently launched initiatives in support of multilateralism, in reaction to the increasingly unilateral behaviour of states undermining the existing rules-based international order. Apart from the European Union, no other multilateral organisation has a parliamentary body with the competence to block or amend its decisions, which indicates that there is a democratic deficit in these multilateral organisations. An initial response to such a democratic deficit is the involvement of national parliaments in international decision-making. This is known as ‘parliamentary diplomacy’. Secondly, the involvement of civil society in international decision-making through protests, petitions, consultations or participation can also enhance democracy. Thirdly, the organisation of national referenda on international decisions can be used by national governments or citizens’ initiatives to increase democratic legitimacy. Fourthly, a lack of democracy at international level can also be countered by creating an ‘alliance of democracies’, aimed at multilateral cooperation between democratic countries rather than the democratisation of multilateral organisations. These are mostly alliances of Western countries, which risks emphasising the differences between West and East or North and South. Three short case studies of parliamentary diplomacy with the strong involvement of the European Parliament (the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (WTO), delegations to the Conferences of Parties of climate change agreements and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly) show that enhancing multilateral democracy is not the only aim of parliamentary diplomacy and that each case reveals a different mix between the ‘parliamentary’ aspect of democratisation and the ‘diplomacy’ aspects of information exchange or influencing.
Authors : Mario DAMEN

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - July 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Safety of journalists in non-EU countries: state and non-state protection mechanisms and the role of the EU

24-06-2022 PE 702.564 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The following is a qualitative, comparative analysis of international state and non-state mechanisms and tools aimed at protecting and ensuring the safety of journalists, and the extent to which they are used and valued in three non-EU countries: the Philippines, El Salvador and Tunisia. Emphasis is placed on the role of the EU in using and strengthening its own and other international instruments. The findings are based on 15 expert interviews and a literature review carried out between mid-February and late April 2022. The study concludes that while EU Delegations and other international actors in these countries are active in promoting journalist safety and freedom of expression to varying degrees and their presence and support is valued by civil society organisations (CSOs), there is considerable room for improvement. Across the three countries, certain protection mechanisms and tools were frequently mentioned by both EU/UN and CSO representatives, while others were not mentioned/used or appeared under-used. A series of recommendations are made, including to: continue and increase support of the most used mechanisms/tools; build awareness/capacity around using the full range of instruments; address the disconnect between the EU’s preference for private action and CSOs’ desire for more public action; and commission a full external evaluation into the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression.
Authors : Tamsin MITCHELL

Safety of journalists and media freedom: trends in non-EU countries from a human rights perspective

06-06-2022 PE 702.562 DROI
Summary : Since 2012 media freedom has been in general decline. While statistics for the 2002-2021 time-period show that the number of killings of journalists has declined somewhat in recent years (since 2013), there has been a marked erosion of legally enabling environments and an increase in other damaging forms of targeted attacks on the media. These include non-lethal physical violence; legal, digital, psycho-social, gender and identity-based intimidation; and state-led capture of the media landscape, often accompanied by politically-motivated denigration and exclusion of critical media voices. Our findings show: (i) political journalism remains most at risk; (ii) major social shocks or crisis (exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic) have been widely used as pretexts for intrusive government measures to constrain media freedom; and (iii) media pluralism and independence are declining. Impunity remains unacceptably high with most cases of killings remaining unresolved. Imprisonments are on the rise while online spaces are becoming increasingly hostile and replete with gender-based hate speech. Countering the wide range of overt and covert threats will require an unequivocal reversal of global trends towards authoritarian controls and suppression of independent media. To undertake this, the European Parliament and concerned institutions need access to reliable data which reflects the realities of the multiple threats that impede the work of journalists globally.
Authors : Jackie HARRISON, Sara TORSNER

Commission proposal on corporate sustainability due diligence: analysis from a human rights perspective

30-05-2022 PE 702.560 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : On 23 February 2022, the European Commission (EC) published its proposal for a corporate sustainability due diligence directive. This In-depth Analysis for the European Parliament Sub-Committee on Human Rights (DROI) initially presents the EC proposal and its main features, contextualising these against broader European and international developments in business and human rights regulations. It then undertakes an in-depth comparative analysis of the EC’s 2022 draft Directive against (i) the position adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET/DROI) in its opinion for the Legal Affairs Committee of 25 November 2020; (ii) the final EP position as adopted in March 2021. This is followed by evaluation of the EC draft Directive’s approach on key elements relating to human rights and environmental due diligence from the point of view of human rights standards and in light of the rationale presented in the EC’s Impact Assessment Report (23 February 2022) and Annexes (29 March 2022). Overall, the analysis provides an assessment of the extent to which key positions of AFET/DROI and the Parliament regarding human rights due diligence, as well as relevant international and regional legal standards, policies and guidance, are either reflected in the EC draft Directive or might be better reflected in it.

External policy tools to address modern slavery and forced labour

10-05-2022 PE 653.664 DROI
Summary : The paper presents the findings of a study on external policy measures adopted by the European Union and like-minded partners to address modern slavery in third countries. The study is intended to support the European Parliament in monitoring EU external action and initiating the refinement of existing or the adoption of new external policy instruments relating to forced labour and modern slavery The study provides a review of the different external policy tools available to the EU to contribute to the eradication of modern slavery and forced labour in third countries, and assesses factors contributing to, and inhibiting, the effectiveness of these measures in practice. The analysis covers key areas of concern for external policy related to modern slavery within the domains of trade, development, and foreign policy. It further provides an overarching framework of considerations and approaches for the European Union in designing, implementing, and evaluating policy and programming related to modern slavery..
Authors : Katarina SCHWARZ, Ergul CELIKSOY, Joanna SMĘTEK, Ewelina WOLOSIK, Katarzyna LUBIANIEC, Agnieszka MAKULEC, Todd LANDMAN

Values on the retreat? The role of values in the EU’s external policies

Summary : There is a general perception in Western countries that the role of values as a foreign policy driver is currently on the decline. This study in the series ‘global trends in external policies’ seeks to contribute to the debate by investigating what is meant by ‘values’, whether their importance is on the wane and, if so, how this manifests itself, and how the European Union (EU) can respond to these trends. The broad concept of values has therefore been split into five categories. Socio-cultural values are implicit drivers of foreign policy. In the case of the EU, these are characterised by diversity. ‘Political values’ is used as a term to describe the fundamental principles of political and public action, defining the relationship between the state and its citizens. For the EU, these are often referred to as the triad of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Economic values characterise the nature of the prevailing economic system in a country. The EU advocates a social market economy. The term ‘Earth values’ refers to the inclusion of environmental considerations in external policies. The EU has become a leader in promoting sustainability. Resulting from the preceding four are ‘international order values’, which characterise the overall international outlook of actors. The EU’s international order value is ‘principled pragmatism’. This study compares the EU’s values with those of four reference countries: the US, Turkey, Russia and China. The US in the West comes closest to many of the EU’s values, but does not overlap completely. Turkey and Russia are in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood and increasingly disagree with the EU on values. Chinese values overlap least with the EU’s values. The study confirms a decline in the influence of the political values preferred by the EU. This decline appears to correspond to a clear West-East spectrum. However, the study also notes an opposite trend of increasing influence of Earth values. For these, a Eurocentric spectrum appears more adequate. For economic values, the definition of trends depends on benchmarks and methodology. The international order notion of ‘principled pragmatism’ has been extended to ‘EU strategic autonomy’. Values are often considered as part of EU strategic autonomy and some policies, such as EU accession or trade policy, incorporate them. A values-based approach to external policies should differentiate according to the partner country and the value category concerned. Whereas cooperation on political values does not appear to be fruitful with certain countries, continued efforts on economic or Earth values may still be possible. The study explores what such a differentiated approach could mean for the four reference countries in the near future. Such an approach should also take into account the differing perceptions of partner countries. Although positive avenues of cooperation on, for example, Earth values are still possible, geopolitical tensions, partly rooted in differing values, are overshadowing this path.
Authors : Mario DAMEN

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - April 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - February 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Commission proposal on reforming the Generalised Scheme of Tariff Preferences: analysis of human rights incentives and conditionalities

26-01-2022 PE 653.661 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This study looks at the European Commission’s proposal for a new GSP Regulation from human rights and sustainable development perspectives. It focuses on proposed changes to the conditionality provisions with their linked monitoring and dialogue processes that aim to promote human rights, sustainable development and good governance in the beneficiary countries. The Commission’s proposal is not revolutionary as it foresees retention of the three existing arrangements (Standard GSP, GSP+ and EBA). However, a limited set of targeted amendments were introduced not only to improve this scheme’s response to the evolving needs and challenges of GSP countries but also to reinforce its human rights, labour, environmental and climate dimensions. This In-Depth Analysis provides a detailed examination of these proposed changes to the GSP regulation and formulates various recommendations to strengthen the GSP as a tool for promoting human rights, sustainable development and good governance. It is argued that positive conditionality should be extended to Standard GSP beneficiaries based on a differentiated and staged approach. Moreover, several innovations and amendments need to be clarified, made more ambitious and legally enshrined in the GSP Regulation or other legal acts.
Authors : Guillaume VAN DER LOO

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - December 2021

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Envisioning International Justice: what role for the ICC?

30-11-2021 PE 653.659 DROI
Summary : The workshop discussed future scenarios for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the EU’s engagement with the court. Against the background of an ongoing review of the Court and the Rome Statute system, the workshop was organised upon the request of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee for Human Rights, and followed the appointment of a new ICC Prosecutor. Speakers identified key challenges for the Court, including: the unstable and fragmented political support by states; the mismatch between resources and growing demands for legal action, requiring difficult and well justified choices by the Prosecutor; allegations of bias and of politicisation; and the need for effective communication with victims and affected communities. The workshop underscored the central role of the EU in upholding the ICC as a central pillar of the multilateral system, but drew also attention to complementary avenues for accountability, such as the use of universal jurisdiction. This report brings together the background briefings prepared by law experts for the workshop and a summary of the debate with Members, academics, civil society experts and EU representatives.
Authors : Olympia BEKOU, Triestino MARINIELLO, Yvonne MCDERMOTT

Femicide, its causes and recent trends: What do we know?

22-11-2021 PE 653.655 DROI
Summary : Femicide is a violation of the basic human rights to life, liberty and personal security, as well as an obstacle to social and economic development. The term indicates the act of intentionally killing a female person, either woman or girl, because of her gender, and it is the end-result of combined risk factors existing at the level of the individual, interpersonal relations, community and society. This crime displays three prominent characteristics: women are disproportionately killed by men; victims have previously experienced non-lethal violence; the rate at which women are killed tends to remain steady over time. Estimates indicate that 87 000 women were intentionally killed in 2017, but the exact number is unknown and suspected to be higher. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation and reduced access to services. Femicide’s classification differs according to context, but most significantly includes: killing by an intimate partner or family member; honour, dowry and witch-hunting deaths; femicide-suicide; pre- and post-natal excess female mortality; infanticide; and deliberate neglect, rooted in a preference for sons over daughters. Collecting accurate data is a strategic goal and necessary to facilitate the design of effective policies.
Authors : Consuelo, CORRADI

Preventing, protecting, providing access to justice: How can states respond to femicide?

22-11-2021 PE 653.656 DROI
Summary : Growing awareness of femicide has not universally translated into effective policy and programming. Though legislation relating to gender-based violence and/or femicide exists in many countries, both persist. A combined social, cultural, political and economic approach situates femicide prevention and responses at various levels, including changes in individual behaviour. Using the term ‘femicide’ more frequently at international forums is crucial not only to focus attention on the gendered nature of violence but also to act as a call for action. Situational studies reveal that political will to end femicide differs from country to country. Femicide together with the patriarchal norms and misogyny that precipitate it are not just extra-EU problems. Rather, they are of global concern, demanding a global response; in non-EU countries this response is often dependent on donor funding. We now know more than ever what works to reverse patterns of violence. These patterns can be broken by developing the capacity of women’s organisations and strengthening global feminist movements that work with national and local activist networks. Additionally, engaging men and boys in this process of transformation is vital if we are to address violence against women and girls and ultimately end femicide.
Authors : Tamsin BRADLEY

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - October 2021

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Human Right to Drinking Water: Impact of large-scale agriculture and industry

30-09-2021 PE 653.649 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : Access to safe drinking water is a human right. It is indispensable to a healthy, dignified and productive life. However, a significant proportion of the global population is not able to enjoy this human right. The purpose of this in-depth analysis is to consider the impacts of large-scale agricultural activity and industry on the progressive realisation of the human right to drinking water. In particular, it considers how the European Union and the European Parliament can better support non-EU countries to realise this human right. States and businesses have obligations and responsibilities towards citizens to ensure safe drinking water. However, fulfilling these obligations and responsibilities is in contention with competing water uses and economic considerations and marred by poor enabling environments and power dynamics. Achieving the human right to drinking water needs to be considered in the context of trade-offs emerging from the water-food-energy nexus where water use in one sector can have impacts on others. Virtual water embedded in the trade of agricultural goods demonstrates that demand for food can affect local water availability, posing challenges to ensuring the human right to drinking water in these places. Existing good practices focus on better recognition of obligations and responsibilities through a human rights-based approach, improved assessments of impacts, enhanced stakeholder engagement and mechanisms for due diligence. There are opportunities for the EU to extend the discussion on the human right to drinking water with other interlinked rights, noting the complex and integrated impacts of water resources.
Authors : • Dr Naho MIRUMACHI • Dr Aleksandra DUDA • Jagoda GREGULSKA • Joanna SMĘTEK

Corruption and human rights in third countries: developments in EU external action since 2017

02-09-2021 PE 653.647 DROI
Summary : In 2017, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on corruption and human rights in third countries (hereinafter ‘EP 2017 Resolution’) which included a set of practical recommendations on corruption and human rights in EU external relations. This briefing analyses the progress made by EU actors in implementing those recommendations. It focuses on development and human rights tools addressed in the EP 2017 Resolution, including EU funded projects and programmes, technical cooperation, EU human rights dialogues and public diplomacy, as well as support for whistle-blowers and civil society organisations exposing corruption. It concludes that, while action has been taken on various fronts to support anti-corruption efforts in third countries following the recommendations, a more systematic approach to corruption and human rights could be taken in some areas. Cooperation between EU actors and enhanced capacity building on corruption and human rights are also key elements for a successful anti-corruption strategy in EU external action.
Authors : Rosana GARCIANDIA

Workshop Large Sporting Events: Human Rights as a Game Changer?

06-07-2021 PE 653.642 DROI
Summary : Large sporting events such as the football World Cup or the Olympic Games can have a considerable impact on a variety of human rights, including the rights of citizens in the host countries; the fundamental freedoms of athletes, journalists and spectators; and the rights of workers involved in construction sites and supply chains. In recent years, international sports federations and other stakeholders have increasingly acknowledged their role in promoting and respecting human rights by adopting strategies, appointing dedicated bodies and including human rights criteria in the bidding and selection process for hosting states. This workshop, requested by the Subcommittee on Human Rights, and organised in association with the Committee on Culture and Education, examined the progress made by sports governing bodies, in addition to the EU’s potential role in advocating for a coherent, human rights-based approach to sports events. The two briefings presented at the workshop analyse the legal human rights provisions in existing bidding and hosting regulations, as well as the political context for promoting human rights through large sporting events, including the potential linkages between human rights objectives and sustainable development goals.
Authors : Daniela HEERDT, Hans Erik NÆSS

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - June 2021

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Digital technologies as a means of repression and social control

18-05-2021 PE 653.636 DROI
Summary : The proliferation of new and emerging technologies over the past two decades has significantly expanded states’ toolkit for repression and social control, deepening human rights problems. While these technologies still have the potential to positively enhance democratic values and human rights, they are now also actively deployed and shaped by many repressive regimes to their own strategic advantage. Globally and regionally, efforts have been made to tackle the challenges that digital technologies pose to human rights, but a lot remains to be done. The EU must enrich global legal and standard-setting efforts, as well as improve its own core foreign policy instruments. The EU’s foreign policy toolbox has become more comprehensive in the last several years, with the addition of a number of different strands to its efforts against ‘digital authoritarianism’. The challenge related to the use of digital technologies by authoritarian regimes has continued to deepen, however. The EU must therefore continue to find ways to fine-tune and add to this toolbox. A core finding that runs through this report is that the EU has undertaken many valuable and well-designed policy initiatives in this field, but still has to decide whether tackling digital repression is a core geopolitical interest at the highest political level.
Authors : Dorota GŁOWACKA, Richard YOUNGS, Adela PINTEA, Ewelina WOŁOSIK

The impact of disinformation on democratic processes and human rights in the world

22-04-2021 PE 653.635 DROI
Summary : Around the world, disinformation is spreading and becoming a more complex phenomenon based on emerging techniques of deception. Disinformation undermines human rights and many elements of good quality democracy; but counter-disinformation measures can also have a prejudicial impact on human rights and democracy. COVID-19 compounds both these dynamics and has unleashed more intense waves of disinformation, allied to human rights and democracy setbacks. Effective responses to disinformation are needed at multiple levels, including formal laws and regulations, corporate measures and civil society action. While the EU has begun to tackle disinformation in its external actions, it has scope to place greater stress on the human rights dimension of this challenge. In doing so, the EU can draw upon best practice examples from around the world that tackle disinformation through a human rights lens. This study proposes steps the EU can take to build counter-disinformation more seamlessly into its global human rights and democracy policies.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - November 2020

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

EU External Migration Policy and the Protection of Human Rights

28-09-2020 PE 603.512 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This in-depth analysis focuses on the human rights implications of EU external migration policy interventions: (1) identifying human rights obligations owed to third-country nationals when engaging in cooperation with third countries and non-EU actors; (2) assessing the means and level of compliance with these obligations when designing and implementing the main policy instruments; and (3) determining the existence and adequacy of operational, reporting, monitoring and accountability mechanisms available in each case to track and respond to potential violations. Particular attention is paid to soft-law tools, on account of their enhanced potential to erode the enforceability of obligations, to downgrade democratic accountability and generally undermine the rule of law. Paving the way for the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, special emphasis is placed on cooperation under the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, the EU Agenda on Migration and the Migration Partnership Framework, including informal arrangements concluded by Frontex or by the Member States themselves. Four case studies guide the analysis and illustrate findings: (1) the EU-Turkey Statement; (2) the multi-modal cooperation with Libya; (3) the Joint Way Forward with Afghanistan; and (4) collaboration with Niger under the EUCAP Sahel mission. The in-depth analysis reveals that the full effect of the EU fundamental rights acquis in extra-territorial situations has not been duly accounted for and proposes a system to ensure compliance with the relevant standards covering the pre-conclusion, design, adoption, implementation, evaluation and review phases, highlighting the role of the European Parliament and civil society organisations.
Authors : Dr Violeta MORENO-LAX,
Document type

Executive summary

State of play of existing instruments for combating impunity for international crimes

14-08-2020 PE 603.499 DROI
Summary : The European Union and its Member States have been at the forefront of the fight against impunity for core international crimes, collectively providing political, technical and financial assistance to international, regional and domestic accountability efforts. Focusing on the current EU framework on accountability and six country situations (Rwanda, Colombia, Venezuela, Myanmar, Syria and Iraq), this study offers recommendations to guide future EU policy and the engagement of the European Parliament in the fight against impunity. The recommendations include enhancing the capacity, efficiency and coordination of EU institutions working on accountability, as well as encouraging comprehensive, impartial and inclusive approaches to country situations. EU action in bilateral and multilateral fora is also covered, with a view to enhancing the universal reach of accountability mechanisms and the protection of their integrity, encouraging cooperation and assistance, and to upholding the principle of complementarity.
Authors : Olympia BEKOU

Challenges for environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights in the Amazon region

30-06-2020 PE 603.488 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The present analysis examines the environmental and human rights challenges in the Amazon region. It finds that the Amazonian countries pursue development policies in the region based on the exploitation on an industrial scale of natural and non-renewable resources that have caused and continue to cause deforestation, loss of biodiversity and engender human rights violations in particular affecting indigenous peoples. The analysis acknowledges the measures taken by the Amazonian countries to establish protected areas and support indigenous territories and their rights but concludes that the laws need strengthening and effective enforcement. The analysis argues that the protection of the Amazon biome is an essential part of the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and concurs with the view of some scientists that there is an urgency to stop forest loss. The analysis further notes that the most effective guardians of the Amazonian forest and its biodiversity are its indigenous peoples. The analysis concludes by arguing that the European Union has an interest in contributing to the protection of the Amazon and its indigenous peoples. It recommends, among other things, that the EU strengthen its direct support to Amazonian indigenous peoples and environmental defenders and develop effective measures which target EU-based companies whose activities cause deforestation.
Authors : Dr. Julian BURGER

Discriminatory Laws Undermining Women’s Rights

20-05-2020 PE 603.489 DROI
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This paper provides insight into the current situation and recent trends in the abolition or reform of discriminatory laws undermining women's rights in countries outside the European Union (EU). The paper aims to provide a nuanced understanding of processes through which legal reforms take place. Among the factors that have proven to facilitate legal reform are the ratification of international human rights treaties, feminist activism, legal and public advocacy by women’s rights and other human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs), political dialogue, and increased women's representation in decision-making processes. Incremental steps supported by the EU towards the abolition of discriminatory laws across all legal categories, EU engagement with a broad range of stakeholders at both national and local levels, programmes supporting the gathering of gender-disaggregated data across all sectors and the publicising of data to draw attention to gender inequality in law and practice, among others, can all contribute towards successful reform of discriminatory laws. Striking the right balance between funding programmes that mainstream gender and funding dedicated to gender-targeted programmes, together with the increased use of country gender profiles, are essential in order to achieve quality legal reforms.
Authors : Mr. Paul DALTON, Ms. Deniz DEVRIM, Mr. Roland BLOMEYER, Ms. Senni MUT-TRACY

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - May 2020

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Human Rights Due Diligence Legislation - Options for the EU

24-04-2020 PE 603.495 DROI
Summary : The European Parliament (EP) has repeatedly underlined the need for stronger European requirements for companies to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harm and to provide access to remedies for victims. The debate — both in the EU institutions and in several Member States — has intensified surrounding due diligence obligations for companies throughout the supply chain. In this context, the EP Human Rights Subcommittee (DROI) requested two briefings on specific human rights related issues it should consider while preparing its position. The first briefing in this compilation addresses substantive elements, such as the type and scope of human rights violations to be covered, as well as the type of companies that could be subject to a future EU regulation. The second briefing discusses options for monitoring and enforcement of due diligence obligations, as well as different ways to ensure access to justice for victims of human rights abuses. The briefings offer a concise overview and concrete recommendations, contributing to the ongoing debate and taking into account the research undertaken on behalf of the European Commission.

Substantive Elements of Potential Legislation on Human Rights Due Diligence

24-04-2020 PE 603.504 DROI
Summary : This briefing provides an overview of the existing legislative approaches to mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence and proposals by non-state actors, concerning the scope of potential European Union (EU) legislation on binding human rights due diligence (HRDD) obligations for companies. The briefing discusses key substantive elements of potential EU HRDD legislation including options for human rights covered by the due diligence requirement; types of violations; specific references regarding women and persons in vulnerable situations and the duties of companies to respect and protect human rights. It is recommended that a potential EU HRDD legislation should comprise all human rights and cover all types of violations. The legislation should refer to additional duties, which can be based on existing human rights treaties and instruments such as CEDAW, CRC, CRPD and UNDRIP. The legislation should cover all companies independently of their size and take a non-sector specific approach. Furthermore, the legislation should not apply solely to the company’s own activities, but also to its business relations including the value chain. Finally, the legislation should adopt a substantive due diligence model and require companies to engage actively in analysing, mitigating and remedying any adverse impacts on human rights based on their own activities and connected to them in their business relations.
Authors : Prof. Dr. Markus KRAJEWSKI, Beata FARACIK

EU Human Rights Due Diligence Legislation: Monitoring, Enforcement and Access to Justice for Victims

24-04-2020 PE 603.505 DROI
Summary : This briefing explores options for monitoring and enforcement of European Union (EU) human rights due diligence legislation, and how such legislation should contribute to access to justice and remedy for victims of human rights abuses linked to the operations of businesses inside or operating from Member States (MS). The briefing reviews existing due diligence and disclosure schemes and considers the feasibility of specific options for monitoring, enforcement and access to remedy within a future EU due diligence law. The briefing recommends that such legislation should require effective monitoring via company-level obligations, national and EU-level measures, including repositories of due diligence reports, lists of companies required to report, information request procedures, monitoring bodies and delegated legislation or guidance further elaborating on due diligence under the law. Regarding enforcement, the law should inter alia require MS to determine appropriate penalties for non-compliance and to establish enforcement rights for interested parties. Finally, on remedy, the law should, besides requiring companies to establish complaint mechanisms, provide for national and EU measures, including requirements that MS ensure effective means of remedy and redress for victims and establish or identify bodies to investigate abuses, initiate enforcement and support victims.

Biodiversity as a Human Right and its implications for the EU’s External Action

06-04-2020 PE 603.491 DROI
Summary : This study provides an in-depth and accessible analysis on biodiversity as a human right to inform the European Parliament’s work on how the European Union’s external action can best contribute to a holistic and human rights-based approach aimed at stopping biodiversity loss and degradation. After a brief overview of empirical data regarding the impacts of biodiversity loss on human rights and the limitations of available sources, the study assesses the status and content of existing international obligations on biodiversity and human rights. The study then assesses existing initiatives’ (potential) legal and political impact at international and regional levels for the EU to address biodiversity and human rights in a mutually supportive manner, within a variety of multilateral fora. Additionally, the study assesses the EU’s (unilateral and bilateral) external action tools that have addressed or could address the human rights dimensions of biodiversity in the context of development, trade and other areas of international cooperation. It provides a series of recommendations on how the European Parliament and other EU institutions can support the development of a holistic and human rights-based approach to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in external action, including as part of the fight against climate change.
Authors : Elisa MORGERA

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - December 2019

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Mekong River: geopolitics over development, hydropower and the environment

Summary : The Mekong River is a vital source of livelihoods and economic activity in continental South-East Asia and extends from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea. Its length is 4 800 km. More than half circulates in China, but its channel runs through Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The Mekong has the world's largest inland freshwater fishery industry, vital to the region's food security, representing around USD 3 000 million per year. Its unique and rich biological habitat provides diverse livelihoods as well as four fifths of the animal protein for more than 60 million people. At the level of biodiversity, the importance of this river for global nature is vital. The Mekong region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and to the degradation of ecosystems. The uncontrolled growth of the population both in China and in Southeast Asia is exerting unsustainable pressure on the Mekong in terms of a massive exploitation of all kinds of resources linked to the River: water, food, wood, energy, especially recent infrastructure and hydropower development, together with deforestation, illegal wildlife trade and habitat fragmentation. Water scarcity leads to reduced agricultural productivity, unemployment and poverty Four countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam) formed an intergovernmental agency in 1950, The Mekong River Commission (MRC), to defend the sustainable development of the Mekong River and to plan its future. The absence of China and Myanmar mitigates and erodes the effective dialogue of the MRC on the management of the River. The lack of implementing mechanisms denatures the organization itself..