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Despite a 'bourgeois' family background, which was a disqualification in communist-led Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel rapidly became an internationally acclaimed playwright. However, his unequivocally proclaimed ethical principles soon put him at odds with the communist regime, resulting in several prison sentences. Havel nevertheless held fast to his belief that moral integrity was a question of necessity, not choice, and attempted to live up to this ideal. The 1989 collapse of the regime made Havel ...

After a period of relative freedom in the 1990s allowed the emergence of civic activism in Russia, repression has now come full circle. Under Vladimir Putin's power vertical, space for independent voices has narrowed. Like the political opposition and the media, civil society is now increasingly subordinate to the state. Repressive legislation has gradually circumscribed the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). As part of a more general drive to exclude external influences after a ...

Some five years after the conclusion of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the political, economic, health and general situation in the country remains fragile, with a divided society, drugs-fuelled conflicts and weak governance. 2022 will be a key electoral year, while economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic remains a challenge. The President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, is set to address the European Parliament ...

Plenary round-up – December 2021

At a Glance 17-12-2021

Due to the deteriorating Covid 19 situation, Members were again able to choose to vote remotely during the December plenary session in Strasbourg. Parliament nevertheless held a joint debate on the preparation of the European Council meeting of 16 17 December 2021 and the EU's response to the global resurgence of Covid 19 and new emerging variants. Members debated statements by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell ...

Respect for fundamental freedoms is a core value of the EU, which it promotes through its external policy. The European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize honours the work of human rights defenders. With human rights under attack in many parts of the world, the Prize remains as relevant as ever. This year it is awarded to Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny, whose brave refusal to be silenced recalls the work of Soviet-era dissidents such as Andrey Sakharov. The Sakharov Prize will be presented at ...

Over the summer and autumn of 2021, in what is increasingly viewed as a hybrid warfare tactic aimed at destabilising Europe, Aliaksandr Lukashenka's Belarussian regime has instrumentalised migrants, manipulating the organisation of flights from the Middle East to Minsk and deliberately orchestrating migrants' onward travel to the EU-Belarus border. With weather conditions endangering migrants' lives, the situation has also led to serious humanitarian consequences. This activity – which many argue ...

Human rights sanctions are nothing new, but the death in 2009 of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky in detention resulted in calls for more vigorous action to counter continuing abuses in many countries. Adopted by the US in 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act was the first of a new generation of human rights sanctions programmes, which, in contrast to traditional sanctions targeted at individual countries, can be flexibly applied to perpetrators from all over the world, regardless of their geographical ...

On 17-19 September, Russia will hold elections at local, regional and national level, most importantly to the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly. Four hundred and fifty deputies will be elected for a five-year term. Ever since 2003, the State Duma has been dominated by the pro-Putin United Russia party, which currently holds a three-quarters supermajority. With the ruling party clearly in charge, the parliament serves as little more than a rubber stamp for Kremlin and government ...

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 ...

Andrey Sakharov was a Soviet physicist who played a leading role in his country's nuclear weapons programme. However, in the 1960s he fell out of favour with the regime due to his activism for disarmament and human rights. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, Sakharov's legacy is more relevant than ever. Since 1988, the European Parliament has awarded an annual prize for freedom of thought named after him.