Category Archives: Human Rights

Respect for human rights and dignity, together with the principles of freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, are values common to all European Union (EU) Member States. They also guide the Union’s action both inside and outside its borders. European action in this area is based on the Treaty on European Union. Annexed to the Treaties, the Charter of Fundamental Rights defines further the fundamental rights applicable at Union level.

Fundamental rights within the European Union
The Charter of Fundamental Rights, Dignity, Liberty, Equality, Solidarity, Citizen’s rights, Justice
Human rights in non-EU countries
European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, Relations with non-EU countries, Reports, Sectoral aspects

Network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity

Network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

Network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2002/494/JHA of 13 June 2002 setting up a European network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Summary

All countries of the European Union (EU) have ratified the Rome Statute of 17 July 1998 setting up the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hear cases involving genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, the ICC remains complementary to national systems of criminal law. The investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes continue to be the responsibility of national authorities. Therefore, the EU is calling for closer cooperation between the relevant national authorities to ensure that these crimes will be combated successfully.

National contact points

Each EU country must designate a national contact point for exchanging information on investigations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The details of each contact point must be sent to the General Secretariat of the Council, which will forward them to the other EU countries.

Upon request, the contact points must provide each other with information relevant to investigations into genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. They may also exchange such information of their own motion. In addition, the contact points are responsible for facilitating cooperation between the competent national authorities.

The Council annually briefs the European Parliament on the activities of the network of contact points.

This decision is without prejudice to the conventions or agreements regarding mutual assistance in criminal matters between judicial authorities.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2002/494/JHA

13.6.2002

OJ L 167, 26.6.2002

Related Acts

Council Decision 2003/335/JHA of 8 May 2003 on the investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes [Official Journal L 118 of 14.5.2003].

EU guidelines on human rights defenders

EU guidelines on human rights defenders

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on human rights defenders

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on human rights defenders

Document or Iniciative

Ensuring protection – European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders . General Affairs Council of 8 December 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Human rights defenders * play a key role in defending fundamental rights and in protecting victims of violations of these rights by:

  • documenting violations;
  • providing victims of these violations with legal, psychological, medical or other support;
  • combating the impunity of those responsible for these violations;
  • raising awareness of human rights and their defenders at national, regional and international levels.

However, it often happens that the defenders of human rights are themselves targets of attacks and threats and that their rights are violated. It is therefore important to ensure their safety and protection. This has always been a key component of the external policy of the European Union (EU) in the field of human rights. Through the present guidelines, the EU aims to further improve its action in this field within the context of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

The Council Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM) and the other competent groups identify the situations in which the EU is called upon to intervene on the basis of specialist reports:

  • periodic reports of EU Heads of Mission (HoMs) * on the human rights situation in their countries of accreditation, which must also include information on the situation of human rights defenders;
  • recommendations from HoMs based on their meetings with local human rights working groups or on their urgent local level action;
  • reports and recommendations from the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, other UN Special Rapporteurs and Treaty Bodies, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and non-governmental organisations.

In particular, EU missions are called upon to:

  • prepare local strategies for the application of the EU guidelines in the host country;
  • organise at least annually a meeting between human right defenders and diplomats to discuss their situation and the EU policy to support their work;
  • appoint an EU Liaison Officer on human rights defenders in order to provide an easily identifiable interlocutor for the human rights defenders community in the host country;
  • coordinate closely and share information on human rights defenders;
  • maintain suitable contacts with human rights defenders;
  • provide visible recognition to human rights defenders and their work through the media, publicity, visits or invitations;
  • visit human rights defenders in custody and attend their trials.

The guidelines also provide for actions to be taken in the context of relations with non-EU countries and in multilateral fora:

  • the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for the CFSP and the EU Special Representatives and Envoys or representatives of the Commission or EU countries will include meetings with human rights defenders as part of their visits to non-EU countries;
  • the situation of human rights defenders will be included in the political dialogue with non-EU countries and regional organisations on the basis of a close collaboration with human rights defenders;
  • the HoMs will remind authorities of non-EU countries of their responsibility to protect human rights defenders in danger;
  • the EU will work closely with other countries committed to the protection of human rights defenders, in particular within the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly;
  • the EU will advocate countries under Universal Periodic Review to align their legislation with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
  • the EU will promote the strengthening of existing, and creation of new, regional mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders.

In addition, the EU and its countries will support special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, in particular by:

  • encouraging countries to accept, as a matter of principle, requests for country visits under these special procedures;
  • promoting the application of UN thematic mechanisms among local human rights communities and defenders;
  • supporting the allocation of sufficient funds to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Finally, the guidelines provide practical support measures for human rights defenders through development policy, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, such as:

  • support for human rights defenders and related non-governmental organisations in non-EU countries through capacity building and awareness-raising campaigns;
  • support for national bodies for the protection of human rights and the establishment of international networks of human rights defenders;
  • access by human rights defenders in non-EU countries to resources from abroad;
  • human rights education programmes that promote the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
  • rapid assistance and protection to human rights defenders in danger in non-EU countries.

The review on the application of and follow-up to these guidelines is undertaken by the COHOM in cooperation with other relevant Council Working Parties, in particular by:

  • promoting the integration of the issue of human rights defenders into relevant EU policies and actions;
  • carrying out regular reviews on the application of these guidelines, accompanied by progress reports to the Council;
  • examining further means for cooperation with the UN and other international and regional mechanisms in support of human rights defenders.
Key terms used in the act
  • Human rights defenders: individuals, groups and organs of society that promote and protect in a peaceful manner universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including rights of members of indigenous communities.
  • EU missions: embassies and consulates of EU countries and EU delegations.

Annual Report on Human Rights 2007

Annual Report on Human Rights 2007

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Annual Report on Human Rights 2007

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

Annual Report on Human Rights 2007

The EU’s ninth annual report on human rights, which covers the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, reviews the human rights activities implemented by the EU in third countries.

Document or Iniciative

European Union Annual Report on human rights – 2007. Council of the European Union of 18 October 2007 [Not yet published in the Official Journal].

Summary

External relations activity

Human rights issues are now included systematically in the planning and conduct of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operations. In particular, promoting gender equality is an essential element in the strategic objectives of ESDP missions.

With regard to the civilian and military missions carried out as crisis management operations, the European Union (EU) set up an Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), continued with its existing missions (EUJUST LEX in Iraq and EUPOL COPPS in the Palestinian territories) and renewed its support for African Union missions in the Darfur region of Sudan (AMIS) and in Somalia (AMISOM).

In the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the political chapter of the Action Plans agreed individually with each State in the ENP zone include commitments relating to human rights, governance and democratisation issues. For some partner countries (e.g. Jordan, Morocco and Lebanon), implementation of these action plans has been monitored by subcommittees dedicated specifically to human rights issues.

The EU continued its human rights dialogue with China, Iran, Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation, and took part in consultations on human rights issues with the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the candidate countries.

In April 2007 the European Parliament adopted a resolution stressing the need to introduce a mechanism to monitor application and initiate a reform of the human rightsclause that is included in its cooperation agreements with third countries.

An analysis of all European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) projects since the year 2000 has been launched. On 1January 2007 the EIDHR was replaced by a new independent financing instrument.

In the period covered by this report, the EU actively pursued its policy on a number of thematic issues, including:

  • the death penalty, among other things by presenting to the General Assembly of the United Nations a “declaration against the death penalty” on 19 December 2006;
  • torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, notably through its “Global Action Plan on Torture” and the entry into force of the EC Regulation prohibiting the production of and trade in equipment designed to inflict torture;
  • the rights of the child, primarily with the launching of a long-term strategy;
  • the protection of human rights defenders, including a review of the implementation of EU guidelines in this area;
  • promoting the rights of women and gender equality, with among other things the adoption of a communication on gender equality in development cooperation;
  • trafficking in human beings;
  • election observation and election assistance;
  • asylum, migration, refugees and displaced persons;
  • racism, xenophobia and discrimination;
  • freedom of religion and belief;
  • the rights of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples.

In the context of international fora, the EU took an active part in the work of the new United Nations Human Rights Council, which replaced the Commission on Human Rights in June 2006.

The report also reviews the EU’s country-focused human rights action, and especially its monitoring of progress in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms in candidate and ENP countries. In Africa, following the adoption of the new strategy in December 2005, the promotion of human rights featured strongly in the context of the strengthened political dialogue conducted with each African country individually. The EU expressed concern over the lack of improvement in the human rights situation in Central America, and monitored developments in Latin America, especially in Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. In Asia, it focused primarily on the situation in Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Developments within the EU

The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, which was established on 15 February 2007 and came into existence on 1 March 2007, was set up to deal with fundamental rights issues in the EU and its Member States connected with the implementation of Community law.

Within the Council, the Secretary-General’s new Personal Representative for Human Rights in the area of common foreign and security policy (CFSP) has strengthened the Human Rights Team in the Council Secretariat. As for the European Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights has commissioned several studies on respect for human rights in specific countries and on the implementation of the EU guidelines in this area.

EU guidelines on the rights of the child

EU guidelines on the rights of the child

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on the rights of the child

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on the rights of the child

Document or Iniciative

EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child . Approved by the Council on 10 December 2007 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In spite of the existence of many international instruments, standards and commitments on the rights of the child and the progress made in this field, the daily reality for millions of children worldwide is in sharp contrast to these commitments and objectives.

Many children face many threats and lack opportunities for access to education and health and social care. They are victims of the worst forms of child labour, violence, sexual abuse, diseases, armed conflict and are exposed to discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion. Girls face specific risks and require particular attention.

Consequently, these guidelines reinforce the action of the European Union (EU) for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in its external relations and encourage an overall, strategic approach to these issues. They complement the EU guidelines on children and armed conflict.

To achieve its objectives, the EU will use operational tools, such as:

  • political dialogue, by including children’s rights in negotiations and discussions held within international or regional organisations and with non-EU countries;
  • démarches, to react to topical issues with an impact on children’s rights and to remind non-EU countries of the need to take appropriate measures to protect children;
  • bilateral and multilateral cooperation to draw up humanitarian assistance and development aid programmes, placing the emphasis on children’s rights, and to raise the question of children’s rights in all areas of the EU’s external action;
  • partnerships and coordination with international stakeholders, such as the United Nations, regional organisations, the European Forum on Children’s Rights, research institutions, public-private partnerships, but also civil society and international financial institutions.

The guidelines provide for action to be taken in the context of relations with non-EU countries and in multilateral fora.

Implementation

The EU proposes general action to implement these operational policies in its relations with non-EU countries, including:

  • encouraging non-EU countries to adhere to relevant international instruments and standards and to cooperate with the various existing mechanisms, such as those of the United Nations, as well as regional instruments, including those of the Council of Europe;
  • urging the reinforcing of capacity for the promotion and protection of children’s rights at national level, by drawing up strategies and developing or strengthening governmental mechanisms;
  • improving monitoring processes and structures, such as databases and surveillance systems, as well as promoting research on the rights of the child, establishing national independent institutions and promoting the participation of civil society;
  • offering more resources for the promotion and protection of children’s rights;
  • encouraging and supporting the review of national legislation on the promotion and protection of children’s rights to ensure better consistency and compatibility with international standards and instruments;
  • combating the violation of children’s rights and ending the existing impunity;
  • encouraging more effective participation by children in decision-making and the implementation of policies affecting them and facilitating their participation;
  • enhancing families’ and other caretakers’ capacities to carry out their roles fully with regard to the protection of children’s rights;
  • furthering the implementation of awareness-raising programmes on children’s rights by promoting campaigns or incorporating the rights of the child in school curricula.

Within the framework of these guidelines, specific action will be taken in priority areas on the basis of separate implementation strategies. The priority areas are selected for a two-year period. The first priority chosen refers to all forms of violence against children. The objectives, operational part and country-specific implementation strategy, actions, monitoring and assessment of the implementation are detailed in Annex 1 to the guidelines.

The Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM) is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of these guidelines, in coordination and close cooperation with other Council working groups.

Background

The EU has undertaken to respect human rights in general and children’s rights in particular under international and European treaties. It adheres to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, promotes the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and supports the United Nations action plan “A World fit for Children “.

The EU has for years been pursuing various actions relating to children and armed conflict, raising the issue of children’s rights in dialogues with non-EU countries and in the context of the enlargement process. In addition, the EU has created a European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, which enables initiatives to be promoted in this field. It integrates the respect of children’s rights into its development policy too, as laid down in the European Consensus on Development.

Promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries

Promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

Promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 8 May 2001 – the European Union’s role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries [COM(2001) 252 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Protecting human rights, promoting pluralist democracy and consolidating the rule of law are not only among the fundamental objectives of the European Union (EU), but are also important principles for its external relations. Respect for these principles is required of countries which apply for EU membership (Article 49 of the EU Treaty) and promoting them is included in all forms of cooperation with third countries, including development cooperation (Article 181a of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC)). Moreover, the Charter of Fundamental Rights directs both the internal and the external action of the EU as regards human rights, which makes it possible to increase their consistency.

At the international level, the EU plays an important role in promoting human rights and democracy through several instruments of a diplomatic nature, of a commercial nature, of financial cooperation and of development aid. This communication proposes a new global strategy which manages all of these instruments, while focusing in particular on the role of Community external aid in promoting these values. Moreover, a new framework for implementing Community development policy was launched in 2000, with the adoption of the declaration on this policy (replaced, in 2006, by the “consensus for development”) and the reform of external aid management. The new strategy therefore aims to incorporate foreign policy regarding human rights and democratisation within this new framework.

A more coherent approach

Human rights and democratisation make up a broad theme that covers several areas of activity, such as the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), financial cooperation, trade and immigration. It is therefore important to coordinate the EC’s efforts with those of the EU and Member States in order to achieve synergy effects and ensure a coherent policy.

The European Parliament (EP) attaches considerable importance to this area, which is reflected in its support for the development of democratic parliamentary institutions in third countries and in its work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Its cooperation with the Commission is already very advanced in the field of electoral assistance and observation. However, there is a need for expanding the exchanges of views and cooperation between these two institutions in planning external aid.

The Commission plays an important role in coordinating policies and programmes on human rights, in particular through its delegations, which must ensure an exchange of information between the EC and the Member States. In particular, the Commission has to ensure that all policies take account of the aspects covered by the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This involves in particular the fields of justice and home affairs, social policy and the environment. With regard to trade and investment, the Commission is working closely with the EP and social partners in order to guarantee sustainable and fair socio-economic development in third countries.

Integration of human rights in dialogue and cooperation

In order to incorporate respect for human rights and democracy into the definition of all the EU’s external policies, these principles must be included in the dialogue with partner countries as well as in Community aid programmes.

In the dialogue with third countries, it is important to have a constructive and positive partnership with their governments. This approach has been based on the inclusion, since 1992, of the clause on ‘essential elements’ in all agreements signed with third countries. On the basis of this clause, respect for democratic principles and fundamental rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights constitutes an ‘essential element’ of the agreement. The aim of the clause is to support democracy and human rights in these countries, to promote accession to and ratification and implementation of international human rights instruments, and to prevent crises through the establishment of a consistent and long-term relationship.

Moreover, this dialogue must not be limited to the public authorities, but should also include civil society and NGOs, both in the field and in Brussels.

With regard to Community aid programmes, the promotion of human rights and democratisation is one of the areas of cooperation provided for by programmes such as Phare, Tacis and MEDA for the period 2000-06 (replaced, from 2007-13, by instruments of pre-accession assistance, of development cooperation financing, and of neighbourhood and partnership). The Cotonou Agreement, concluded with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, went even further, basing the allocation of a part of the European Development Fund (governance initiative) on the beneficiary countries’ commitment to institutional reforms in several governance-related fields, including human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

On the other hand, humanitarian aid is not related to the beneficiary country’s respect for human rights, since it aims to relieve human suffering solely according to the victims’ needs. Nevertheless, the aid provided must not aggravate the situation in the beneficiary country, and it is therefore essential to consider to what extent humanitarian projects will affect the human rights situation in these countries.

A more strategic approach for the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)

The EIDHR (replaced by the financial instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights in the world for the period 2007-13) supports initiatives in the field of democracy and human rights in partnership with NGOs and international organisations, bringing added value to Community programmes and to the CFSP. The development of EIDHR strategies must be based on thematic priorities and target countries, and must provide the budgetary flexibility necessary for meeting urgent and unforeseen needs. This makes it possible to guarantee a long-term approach that enhances the EIDHR’s impact.

Moreover, it is also important to improve the effectiveness of cooperation with the other actors on the international stage, such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in particular on the basis of the comparative advantage of these organisations and of the EIDHR’s priorities.

A European Human Rights Agency?

The European Council’s conclusions of June 1999 suggested examining the possibility of creating a European Human Rights Agency. This communication concludes that such an agency is not necessary. The first model, for a reporting and advisory agency, has been abandoned following the finding that the EU already has sufficient sources of information and advice. The second model, which involves the externalisation of implementation, is considered to be incompatible with the EIDHR’s essential purpose as a complement to the main assistance programmes.

European Union Annual Report on Human Rights 2001

European Union Annual Report on Human Rights 2001

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Union Annual Report on Human Rights 2001

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

European Union Annual Report on Human Rights 2001

1) Objective

To present the policy of the European Union (EU) in the field of human rights, focusing on the situation in third countries whilst also looking at the main challenges within the Union itself. To demonstrate the holistic nature of the EU’s work through its three pillars and within international and regional bodies from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001. To draw up a reference document with a view to deepening a debate that aims to make the Union’s actions more coherent and more effective.

2) Document or Iniciative

European Union: Annual report on human rights [PDF]  . General Affairs Council – Luxembourg, 9 October 2001 [Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Background

As highlighted by Louis Michel, the President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union when the report was adopted, the European Union is founded on five fundamental values: freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, respect for fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. These values have been gradually integrated into the legal framework which, in this area, has changed considerably since the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union in 1993. The Treaty of Amsterdam and the Treaty of Nice are the two other major milestones. Today, provisions are gathered together in the Charter on Fundamental Rights, solemnly proclaimed in December 2000. In addition, the commitment in the Member States of the European Union and the EU’s external relations are governed by Articles 2, 6, 7 and 11 of the TEU and Articles 13 and 177 of the EC Treaty. In addition to the European Council, the Council and the Commission, which are the main actors involved in policy planning and implementation, the European Parliament (EP) has become a recognised forum for discussion which has a specific role to play in drawing up treaties with third countries. The EP is responsible too for democratic control of the Union’s commitment, which is also examined by civil society.

Human rights within the EU

Human rights took a step forward with the proclamation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which must be respected by the Member States and the European Union when applying Community law. However, without wishing to be exhaustive, the report makes reference to some significant concerns, in particular:

  • racism and xenophobia, which continue to be a priority for which new laws have been adopted. These include the Directive concerning equal treatment irrespective of racial and ethnic origin and the Directive concerning non-discrimination as regards employment and occupation. These acts are accompanied by the Community action programme to combat discrimination;
  • asylum and migration, an area for which the Commission published in 2001 the communication entitled ‘ the Scoreboard ‘, which sets out the issues relating to partnership with countries of origin, a common European asylum policy, fair treatment of third country nationals and management of migration flows;
  • trafficking in human beings, an area for which the Commission proposed in 2001 a framework decision. It also organised a European Forum on Prevention of Organised Crime. The STOP II programme, which supports projects to fight and prevent trafficking in human beings, was also adopted.

The issue of human rights has also been raised in the context of business and trade. For the period covered by the report, this involves development assistance (for example under the Cotonou Agreement), a code of conduct on arms exports, etc.

Instruments and initiatives to promote human rights in third countries

The European Union works globally to increase respect for human rights in the world through both Community instruments and instruments under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Council conclusions, dialogue with third countries, etc. This wide range of instruments includes:

  • within the framework of the CFSP, three categories: common strategies (like that on Russia, which made it possible to tackle issues relating to Chechnya), joint actions (like that dealing with the issue of the Western Balkans, through the EU Monitoring Mission) and common positions (like that relating to the International Criminal Court);
  • representations and declarations. Representations (sometimes confidential) are made to the authorities of third countries, whilst declarations are targeted at the press. The fight against the death penalty and torture are among the many fields covered by these instruments;
  • political dialogue, which aims to tackle questions of common interest and the possibilities for cooperation within international bodies with the associated countries, the United States, Canada and China. The dialogue with China (EN) includes meetings with senior officials, human rights seminars, etc;
  • a communication on the EU’s role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries, which aims to set the policy in the context of the Commission’s overall strategic approach. The communication seeks to promote coherent policies, give a higher priority to human rights and adopt a more strategic approach to the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Created in 1994, the EIDHR brings together the promotion of human rights under a series of budget headings which were allocated EUR 102 million in 2001;
  • the organisation of human rights forums, at which the Presidency of the Union and the Commission meet with representatives of the institutions, the Member States, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), universities, etc. in order to assess the work carried out at international level.

Action by international and regional bodies

The Union also works within international bodies. The most important of these are:

  • the United Nations, where the Member States of the Union vote together on human rights issues and where the EU generally speaks with one voice. The 55th General Assembly and the 57th Commission on Human Rights benefited from the active and constructive participation of the Union, which highlighted the situation in third countries as well as other general topics such as the rights of the child and female genital mutilation. It was also involved in the preparations for the Special Session on Children and the World Conference against Racism;
  • the Council of Europe, where the EU welcomes the extension of common values represented by the enlargement of the organisation; the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights constitute the two pan-European reference points;
  • the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also receives support from the Union. Its work to promote democratic institutions, national minorities and freedom of the media and its fight against trafficking in human beings have been particularly welcomed by the EU;
  • the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, created at the EU’s initiative, is another important organisation for the promotion of human rights. Its Working Table I deals with these issues, focusing on the media, the return of refugees, national minorities, etc;

Thematic priority issues

Human rights have been divided into different areas so as to facilitate and clarify the work of the European Union. The priority issues are:

6.1. Civil and political rights, which are closely linked to the promotion and consolidation of democracy. In addition to the serious concerns over the lack of freedom of expression in many states, the commitment to freedom of religion and efforts to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, action focuses on:

  • the abolition of the death penalty, which is one of the Union’s main priority areas. The EU notes that the situation has improved in many countries that have abolished or reduced the number of crimes subject to capital punishment. However, it condemns the 2 000 executions recorded throughout the world. In order to achieve its goal, the total abolition of the death penalty, the EU has worked within various international and regional bodies, including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the OSCE. This work has been accompanied by targeted actions in specific countries such as the United States and China;
  • the fight against torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which was strengthened with the adoption of new guidelines in April 2001. The EU’s objective is to prohibit these serious violations of human dignity and to ensure that this is respected by the authorities concerned. The measures taken by the EU during the period in question include political dialogue, promotion of the International Criminal Court, bilateral representations and work within international fora such as the United Nations;
  • election assistance and observation, which aim to improve the long-term democratisation of third countries. These have benefited from almost EUR 180 million over the last five years. The subject was debated within the European institutions in 2000 and 2001, resulting in a Commission communication, a European Parliament resolution and Council conclusions. Since then, actions in this field have formed part of a coherent framework which also promotes international collaboration by involving the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. Media monitoring enhances the Union’s policy in this field.

6.2. Economic, social and cultural rights accompany civil and political rights and the two categories are mutually reinforcing. The Union’s goal is still to halve by the year 2015 the number of people in the world living in conditions of extreme poverty.

6.3. As the world’s foremost international donor, the EU plays a crucial role in terms of the right to development. This policy is also linked to human rights, especially for the ACP countries, which are obliged to respect the criteria of the Cotonou Agreement. The EU also works on this issue within the United Nations.

6.4. The EU fights for the promotion of the rights of the child through the United Nations and the OSCE. The problems highlighted include children in armed conflict and HIV/AIDS.

6.5. Women’s rights have made significant progress in terms of international legislation since September 2000 with the adoption of instruments on gender equality, transnational crime, trafficking in human beings and crimes of honour. The problem of HIV/AIDS was also emphasised.

6.6. The fight against all forms of discrimination in third countries comes under European initiatives such as EQUAL and Grotius, the EIDHR and the Community programme on gender equality. The Union also works within the following international bodies: the OSCE, the United Nations and the Council of Europe. It played an important and constructive role at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in South Africa.

6.7. The Union’s other priorities relate to persons belonging to minorities (where it promotes interethnic tolerance), refugees and displaced persons (where it works to ensure voluntary return and provide humanitarian organisations with access to affected areas) and the protection of human rights defenders.

Country initiatives

The Union comments on the situation in third countries in order to support their democratisation process. Whenever possible, it does so through international fora, such as the High Commissioner for Human Rights or the United Nations human rights institutions. The statements and resolutions which it has endorsed include:

  • in Africa: Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Algeria, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Togo and Sierra Leone;
  • in America: Colombia;
  • in Europe: Chechnya, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania, Cyprus, Turkey, Belarus and Ukraine;
  • in Middle East: Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia;
  • in Asia: China, Myanmar, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

EU global election assistance and observation strategy

EU global election assistance and observation strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU global election assistance and observation strategy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU global election assistance and observation strategy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 11 April 2000 on EU election assistance and observation [COM(2000) 191 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Everyone’s right to take part in the government of their country is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the case of elections, good governance requires an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework and a transparent and accountable election administration, in particular independent supervision and monitoring, that ensures respect for the rule of law. It is also essential for citizens to be informed and to participate throughout the electoral process.

The criteria set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the validation of observed elections are internationally accepted. Elections must be free, fair, genuine, held periodically and by secret ballot.

International election assistance consists of technical and material support for electoral processes, including assistance in establishing the elections’ legal framework, in registering political parties or voters and in providing civic education and training for local observers and journalists. Election assistance is complementary to election observation.

International election observation is intended to consolidate democracy, legitimise electoral processes, enhance public confidence, deter fraud, strengthen respect for human rights and contribute to the resolution of conflict. It is based on the principles of full coverage, impartiality, transparency and professionalism.

European Union (EU) support for human rights, democracy and the rule of law is established in the Treaties. Article 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union clearly states that the Union is founded on principles such as liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, which are fundamental values shared by all EU countries. Election missions are accepted as part of the EU’s mandate.

Lessons learned from experience

The communication reviews the lessons learned from EU assistance and observation missions between 1993 and 2000:

  • the Union needs a coherent strategy in this field;
  • observation missions must be careful in not legitimising illegitimate electoral processes;
  • better cooperation with and training of domestic observer groups need to be established;
  • some regional and local elections also need assistance and observation;
  • exploratory missions are needed before deciding to send observation missions;
  • election observation missions need to remain in place long enough to cover all stages of the electoral process;
  • assessing elections is a delicate exercise and should lead to recommendations for future actions;
  • mission spokespersons should always make a preliminary statement after polling and final proclamations only at the end of the electoral process;
  • EU actors in the field should always speak with one voice;
  • setting up a Commission unit dealing with elections in non-EU countries is advisable;
  • the EU decision-making procedure needs to be clarified and rationalised;
  • a coherent and transparent financing policy is needed;
  • coordination between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament needs strengthening;
  • coordination with other international actors should be based on partnerships;
  • EU missions need to be made more visible;
  • the human resources involved in election observation and assistance must match the political objectives;
  • an accelerated formula for EU decision-making would be advisable;
  • comparable methods for the recruitment of observers would improve missions;
  • EU observers should receive better training and field guidance.

Recommendations for the future

The communication stresses that the Union needs to adopt an election assistance and observation strategy that:

  • allows for case-by-case decisions;
  • promotes the development of sustainable national structures;
  • promotes pluralism at a political level and in local civil society;
  • encourages partnership between European and local NGOs and local observers.

The decision to launch an EU election observation mission should be based on an evaluation of the mission’s advisability, viability and usefulness. The Council has drawn up criteria in this respect, which are set out in Annex III to the communication. This annex also lists the conditions required for observers to be able to perform their work.

The following criteria could provide a basis for deciding on the provision of election assistance:

  • a request for assistance from the government of the host country;
  • the general agreement of the main political parties and other partners;
  • the existence of previous EU political monitoring or development programmes;
  • an adequate time-frame;
  • freedom of movement;
  • access to information;
  • the safety of the technical assistance team.

The Commission is currently studying the advisability of setting up an election unit responsible for horizontal coordination of election observation and assistance, including prior planning and evaluation, in order to assist the geographical units and Commission Delegations and to liaise with the other institutions and organisations involved. This new team should make it easier for the Council, the Parliament and the Commission to reach agreement on electoral missions.

As regards the financing of missions, various ways of accelerating and simplifying decisions to commit funds and implement expenditure are being studied.

The communication considers that the agreed criteria for selection (Annex IV) and the code of conduct for EU observers (Annex III) provide a good basis for observer recruitment.

Guidelines for success

For election assistance and observation missions to be successful, the communication recommends taking account of the following aspects:

  • drawing up a clear mandate for the mission;
  • always starting with an exploratory mission;
  • setting up an EU field elections unit with a core team responsible for coordination;
  • sending technical assistance into the field sufficiently early;
  • producing regular mission reports;
  • training all EU observers using a common training programme;
  • working with other organisations in order to train observers;
  • deploying long-term observers two months before election day and keeping them in place until any electoral disputes have been resolved;
  • ensuring that all observers abide by the code of conduct.

In order to assess the outcome of an election, the communication advocates the use of the criteria set out in Annex III.

To improve visibility of the EU’s electoral activities, the communication suggests publishing information on these activities on the Internet, establishing good relations with the media, using relevant publicity material and including visibility into agreements with other partners.

Related Acts

European Parliament resolution of 8 May 2008 on EU election observation missions: objectives, practices and future challenges [Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Conclusions on election assistance and observation. Development Council – 31 May 2001 [Not published in the Official Journal].

The Council welcomes the communication and cites the principles by which EU support for elections should be guided: dialogue with the authorities involved, improving the confidence of the electorate in elections, preventing conflict and eliminating fraud. It stresses that a line needs to be drawn between election assistance and election observation. The Council also considers that the appointment of a chief observer from the European Parliament is advisable for each election observation mission. The action to be taken includes:

  • building institutional capacity, including framework agreements on election finance and political parties;
  • training of local personnel;
  • making citizens more aware of their right to vote;
  • setting up election sites;
  • supporting local civil society;
  • supporting the media.

A review of support for election processes is expected every three years.

European Parliament resolution of 15 March 2001 on the Commission communication on EU Election Assistance and Observation [Not published in the Official Journal].

The European Parliament welcomes the communication. It suggests that a European Parliament election coordination group is established, as well as calls on the Commission to prepare country strategy papers on election assistance and guidelines for evaluating election assistance. It recommends that overlaps between European and international missions should be avoided and proposes that a conference is organised with other actors in order to establish common working and assessment criteria. The European Parliament also considers that it is important to commit election assistance aid under the budget lines for each geographical area.

EU guidelines on the death penalty

EU guidelines on the death penalty

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on the death penalty

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on the death penalty

Document or Iniciative

EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty : revised and updated version. General Affairs Council of 16 June 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Having signed the 13th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), all European Union (EU) countries are committed to the permanent abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances. They are also committed to the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, whereby “no one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed”.

In order to increase respect for human rights and enhance human dignity in non-EU countries, the EU aims, as an integral part of its human rights policy, to:

  • strive towards the universal abolition of the death penalty, with the immediate establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty if necessary;
  • call for a reduction in the use of the death penalty where it still exists and insist that it is carried out in line with certain minimum standards, at the same time aiming to obtain accurate data on the number of sentenced and executed persons.

Method of work

Key elements of the EU’s approach include general demarches, where the issue of the death penalty is raised in dialogues and consultations with non-EU countries. The focus is on the non-EU country’s:

  • judicial system, its functioning and transparency;
  • international commitments to not use the death penalty;
  • death penalty policy developments;
  • human rights situation as reported by relevant international mechanisms.

The EU may also make specific demarches, on a case-by-case basis, in individual cases where it becomes aware of violations of minimum standards.

Furthermore, the EU will act on the basis of human rights reports from EU Heads of Mission, which should include an analysis on the application and use of the death penalty in the countries concerned and an evaluation of the impact of EU activities.

The EU aims to encourage non-EU countries to abolish the death penalty by promoting the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In cases where this is not possible, it will work towards its aim through other initiatives, such as by:

  • promoting the ratification of other international human rights instruments, in particular those concerning the death penalty;
  • promoting bilateral and multilateral cooperation with a view to establishing a fair and impartial judicial process for criminal cases.

The EU will also aim at promoting in relevant multilateral fora initiatives for the introduction of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and its eventual abolition. Furthermore, it will encourage the relevant international organisations to take action that will promote the ratification of and compliance with international treaties and standards on death penalty.

Minimum standards

Where the death penalty is maintained, the EU will promote the application of the following minimum standards:

  • imposing capital punishment only for the most serious intentional and violent crimes;
  • imposing capital punishment only for a crime for which the death penalty was prescribed when it was committed; if a lighter penalty was prescribed beforehand, this must be imposed;
  • not imposing capital punishment for persons who were below the age of 18 when committing the crime, pregnant women, new mothers or persons with mental disorders;
  • requiring clear and convincing evidence and a fair trial where the defendant benefits from legal assistance;
  • providing the right to appeal to a higher jurisdiction and to submit an individual complaint; anyone sentenced to death should have the right to seek commutation of the sentence;
  • carrying out capital punishment that inflicts the minimum possible suffering.

Background

In 1998, EU countries decided to strengthen their activities in opposition to the death penalty. To this end, they adopted the first version of these guidelines. At that time, capital punishment had been abolished in most EU countries and those that had not yet abolished it were no longer applying it. Since then, all countries of the Union have ratified Protocol No 6 to the ECHR concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty. It should also be noted that abolition forms one of the conditions of EU membership.

Consequently, the EU decided to intensify its initiatives within international bodies, mainly the United Nations (UN). In 2007, its co-sponsored resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty was adopted at the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. This resolution calls for the use of minimum standards in safeguarding the rights of those facing the death penalty, the progressive restriction of the use of the death penalty and the establishment of a moratorium on executions. Furthermore, the EU works in collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in particular through the financial instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights in the world.

European Union Annual Report on Human Rights – 2002

European Union Annual Report on Human Rights – 2002

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Union Annual Report on Human Rights – 2002

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

European Union Annual Report on Human Rights – 2002

This Report sets out to review the policies and actions of the European Union within the field of human rights in relation to third countries and within the Union itself.
To contribute to the discussion on how to make the EU’s human rights policy more transparent, effective and coherent and to ensure that human rights are mainstreamed in the EU’s actions.

Document or Iniciative

European Union: Annual Report on Human Rights 2002. Foreign Affairs Council of 21 October 2002 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This report, the fourth of its kind, covers the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.

The European Union is seeking to integrate respect for human rights and the promotion of human rights into development cooperation, trade policies and the promotion of peace and security. With regard to third countries, the EU uses an approach based on dialogue and expert assistance or by engaging in a partnership to protect and promote human rights. It considers that its duty is to speak out against violations of human rights, wherever they take place, although the primary responsibility for applying the rights lies with governments.

Human rights in the European Union

Mainstreaming human rights: the report indicates that, in the reference period, progress has been made in mainstreaming human rights within other EU policies, particularly through the following:

  • political dialogue with third countries (the Council adopted the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Dialogues on 13 December 2001);
  • the inclusion of a “human rights” clause in all trade and cooperation agreements with third countries (for example, in the Cotonou Agreement);
  • the establishment of respect for human rights as an accession criterion for the applicant countries;
  • the development of a European Code of Conduct on arms exports;
  • the withdrawal of preferences from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in cases of unacceptable labour practices;
  • mainstreaming women’s and children’s rights within the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR);
  • the development of Country Strategy Papers which analyse the economic, political and social situation of the country and provide a framework for European Community assistance;
  • human rights training for staff in Commission delegations in third countries (organised within the process of deconcentrating the management of assistance programmes).

Charter of Fundamental Rights: the report stresses that, as the legal scope of the Charter has not yet been decided, the debate on the future of Europe and the 2004 Intergovernmental Conference should therefore consider its status.

Racism and xenophobia: the Community Action Programme to Combat Discrimination (with a budget in 2001 of EUR 14.15 million) has funded a wide range of activities, such as reports on measures existing in the Member States to combat discrimination, the evaluation of activities carried out by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, the establishment of transnational exchange actions, the creation of networks of non-governmental organisations (NGO), the organisation of a European Conference on Discrimination and the launch of a prize for diversity in companies.

In November 2001, a proposal for a framework decision was presented. Its aims are to ensure that racism and xenophobia are punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties and to improve judicial cooperation in this area.

The report indicates that the Community Initiative EQUAL (2000-2006) and the DAPHNE Programme (2000-2003) are also contributing to the fight against discrimination.

Asylum and migration: intense activity occurred during the reference period in this area. With a view to establishing a Common European Asylum System, several measures have been adopted, particularly with regard to rules on:

  • the reception of asylum seekers;
  • granting protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons;
  • creating a system for comparing fingerprints;
  • setting up a European Refugee Fund;
  • unaccompanied minors;
  • child persecution;
  • gender-based persecution.

The first annual report on the common asylum policy has also been published.

A proposal on the entry and residence of third country nationals for the purpose of paid employment or self-employed activities has been adopted, together with another proposal on family reunification.

With regard to the management of migration flows, a communication and an overall action plan on the policy on illegal immigration and on the traffic in human beings have been adopted. A proposal for a directive on short-term residence permits for victims of illegal immigration or trafficking in human beings has also been published.

Trafficking in human beings: the fight against trafficking in human beings is one of the main political priorities of the EU. Active operational cooperation between the Member States and the candidate countries has been established to help victims and organise prevention campaigns. A proposed framework decision containing a common definition of trafficking in human beings is being prepared.

In addition, the STOP II Programme to fight against trafficking in human beings was adopted in June 2001.

At international level, the first ratifications of the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and its accompanying Protocol on Trafficking in Persons must be highlighted.

European Parliament Report: Parliament’s report on the situation as regards fundamental rights in the EU in 2001 has been published. It focuses on measures to combat terrorism.

Business: the EU continues to pay particular attention to respect for human rights in the context of economic and commercial activities. Within the GSP scheme, revised in December 2001, countries which violate the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (of the International Labour Organisation) will lose their preferences. Those which comply with the Declaration will enjoy additional preferences.

The Commission has also published a communication on promoting core labour standards and improving social governance in the context of globalisation. In July 2001, it published a green paper on promoting a European framework for corporate social responsibility.

An ongoing dialogue on arms exports is taking place with the candidate countries. The Commission is preparing a proposal on trade in equipment which could be used for the purpose of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

At international level, the EU has played a very pro-active role in revising the guidelines for multinational enterprises of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Action on human rights in international affairs

EU instruments and initiatives in relations with third countries:

  • Common strategies, joint actions and common positions: within the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the EU has continued to implement common strategies for Russia, the Ukraine and the Mediterranean region. This report reviews the joint actions and common positions relating to human rights which have been adopted or revised;
  • Representations and declarations: representations and press statements are important instruments for raising problems relating to human rights in third countries. During the period covered by the report, representations and declarations were made by the Union in over 40 countries;
  • Political dialogue: during the period under review, the issue of human rights, democracy and the rule of law was tackled during political dialogue with associated countries, the United States, Canada and China;
  • Conclusions of the General Affairs Council of 25 June 2001: these conclusions concern the European Union’s role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries;
  • European Parliament Report: in April 2002, Parliament adopted its annual report on human rights throughout the world. It focuses in particular on the forms of modern slavery and the fight against terrorism;
  • Human Rights Forums: the third EU forum on human rights took place in November 2001. It specifically covered the role of States and non-state actors, the instruments available to the EU, the types of dialogue and the evaluation of annual reports and forums.

Activities funded under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). This initiative supports actions carried out in partnership with NGOs and international organisations.

In 2002, the budget of EUR 104 million of the EIDHR was focused on the following priorities: the development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; support for international criminal courts and the establishment of the International Criminal Court. During the period from 2002 to 2004, emphasis will also be given to the fight against racism and xenophobia and to promoting the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples.

EU action in international fora:

  • United Nations (UN): during the period covered by the report, the EU took an active part in various activities within the United Nations, in particular at the 56th session of the UN General Assembly, the 58th session of the Commission on Human Rights, the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia, the General Assembly’s Special Session on children; the Second World Assembly on Ageing and the International Consultative Conference on School Education in relation to Freedom of Religion or Belief. In its activities within the UN, the EU attached particular importance to the protection of the rights of the child and the abolition of the death penalty;
  • International Criminal Court (ICC): it is partly thanks to the EU’s activities that, in April 2002, the number of ratifications required for the entry into force of the ICC was reached and that this entered into force on 1 July 2002. In April 2002, the EU launched a call for proposals to finance NGO projects dealing with the fight against impunity and the promotion of international justice;
  • Council of Europe: the EU welcomes the opening for signature in May 2002, within this organisation, of the protocol to the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the abolition of the death penalty. It also welcomes the role played by the Council of Europe in South Eastern Europe and in Chechnya;
  • Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE): the EU contributes to the actions on the ground and to the institutions of this organisation. The EU welcomes the steps undertaken by the OSCE to combat trafficking in human beings;
  • Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe: in 2002, steps aimed at increasing the cooperation between the Stability Pact and the Stabilisation and Association Process were taken. Since June 2001, the priority areas of Working Table I of the Pact (on human rights) have been: trade and investment, infrastructure, refugee matters, cross-border cooperation, small arms and light weapons and the fight against organised crime.

Thematic issues of particular importance to the EU:

  • Human rights and terrorism: the fight against terrorism is one of the political priorities of the EU. During the Extraordinary European Council on terrorism held on 21 September 2001, the EU declared that it would ensure, in stepping up its actions against terrorism, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Within the Euro-Mediterranean Conference, an action plan on terrorism and a regional cooperation programme in the field of justice have been adopted;
  • Civil and political rights: within the UN, the Union has supported several resolutions on civil and political rights and on other actions in this area. Efforts have been made by the EU on the abolition of the death penalty, particularly in the United States and within international and regional organisations. The fight against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment have also been the subject of particular attention. The same applies to election observation and assistance;
  • Economic, social and cultural rights: the EU welcomes the proposal for a protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, providing for a mechanism allowing for individual complaints. It supports the efforts to integrate these rights within the UN system;
  • Right to development: the EU is taking an active part in establishing a consensus with regard to this right and its content;
  • Rights of the child: in 2002, two protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child entered into force. One concerned the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the other was on the involvement of children in armed conflict;
  • Human rights and women: within various international organisations, several resolutions on the human rights of women were adopted during the reference period;
  • Racism, xenophobia, non-discrimination and respect for diversity: the EU is trying to mainstream the fight against racism within all its policies, particularly the CFSP, development aid, enlargement and police and judicial cooperation. This issue has become one of the priorities of the EIDHR for the 2002 to 2004 period;
  • Persons belonging to minorities: combating discrimination against ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples has also become a priority of the EIDHR. In addition, some of the aid granted by the Phare programme is earmarked for improving the situation of the Roma population;
  • Refugees and internally displaced persons: the EU is currently the largest donor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In December 2001, a process to prepare an international protection programme was launched in order to form a framework and modus operandi for the States, the UNHCR and the NGOs. In 2002, an inter-agency unit on internal displacement was established;
  • Human rights defenders: the Member States state that they are ready to apply a resolution, adopted within the UN, aimed at ensuring that all necessary measures are taken to ensure the protection of human rights defenders. Within the OSCE, the EU has shown itself to be in favour of developing a regional approach on matters involving human rights defenders.

Situation of human rights in the world: finally, this report reviews the situation of human rights across the world, with particular attention being paid to certain countries.

EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on torture and other cruel treatment

Document or Iniciative

Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment(An up-date of the Guidelines). General Affairs Council of 18 April 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The work of the European Union (EU) in the area of combating torture and ill-treatment includes active support for the reinforcement and implementation of international instruments and for the work of the establishments concerned. The EU undertakes measures within its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), such as when it adopted the regulation on trade in instruments of torture.

As far as combating torture and ill-treatment is concerned, the operational strand of the CFSP comprises:

  • periodic reports of non-EU countries in which the EU Heads of Mission include an analysis of the atrocities discovered as well as an evaluation of the impact of the Union’s preventive efforts;
  • an observation role for embassy representatives in trials where it is feared that the defendant has been subjected to torture or ill-treatment;
  • the evaluation of reports from relevant establishments, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs, with a view to identifying situations where EU action is necessary.

The EU’s objective is to ensure that non-EU countries take effective measures against torture and ill-treatment and respect their obligations. In order to ensure the promotion of international law, it implements the following measures:

  • establishing political dialogue that includes discussions with non-EU countries and regional organisations. The Council has also adopted guidelines on human rights dialogues that aim to establish clear conditions and principles in this area;
  • inviting non-EU countries to undertake measures to combat torture and ill-treatment, through confidential or public demarches. The EU will request additional information if there are any human rights violations;
  • promoting collaboration with civil society in bilateral and multilateral cooperation, in particular within the framework of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The EIDHR supports NGOs in combating torture and rehabilitating victims of torture.

The EU also encourages non-EU countries to take internal measures, such as:

  • introducing measures that prohibit and condemn torture and ill-treatment, including the adoption of laws, administrative measures and restrictions in relation to the production and sale of equipment used for these activities;
  • respecting international standards and procedures, including adhering to international conventions, the Statute of the International Criminal Court and cooperating with the relevant UN and/or Council of Europe mechanisms;
  • guaranteeing detention conditions that are in conformity with human rights and banning secret places of detention. The EU is in favour of domestic mechanisms whereby civil society representatives and independent bodies may visit places of detention;
  • ensuring that their legal system conforms to international standards and procedures, and combating impunity;
  • establishing measures for groups requiring special protection, such as women, children and refugees;
  • setting up procedures for complaints of torture, guaranteeing compensation, establishing and reinforcing national institutions, ensuring effective training for professionals, etc.

Furthermore, the EU continues to raise these issues with multilateral organisations such as the UN, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It also continues to support the relevant international and regional mechanisms, as well as the relevant voluntary funds.

Background

Respect for human rights is one of the key priorities in the EU’s external relations; in particular, it features among the main objectives of the CFSP. Combating torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment forms a necessary part of this work, despite the existence of numerous international instruments that prohibit this type of serious violation of human dignity. The actions of the EU, strongly supported by all of its countries, aim to prevent and eliminate torture and ill-treatment and to combat the impunity of those responsible. This work complements action to combat the death penalty.