Tag Archives: Fundamental rights

European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010)

The fight against poverty and social exclusion is a primary objective of the European Union (EU) and its Member States. A significant part of the European population is in a situation of poverty and lacks access to basic services. The launch of a European Year dedicated to this objective is intended to give a new impetus to the process of social inclusion.

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 1098/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010) (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

On the occasion of the European Year 2010, the European Union (EU) reaffirms its commitment to the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It promotes a social model contributing to the welfare of individuals, their participation in society and the economic development of Europe.

The fight against poverty and social exclusion is linked to a series of socioeconomic and cultural factors which call for multidimensional strategies of national, regional and local dimension. It requires the participation of public authorities and individuals alike.

Objectives and beneficiaries

This initiative aims at informing European citizens but also to give a voice to people in a situation of poverty and social exclusion.

In accordance with the European principles of solidarity and social justice, the Year will have four guiding principles.

Recognition of the fundamental right of people in a situation of poverty to live in dignity and to play a full part in society. In particular, the aim is to guarantee access to resources, social services, culture and leisure.

Promotion of social cohesion,in the form of actions to enhance quality of life, social welfare, equal opportunities and sustainable development, by promoting an employment market that is open to all and the principle of equality in education and training. In particular, these actions will target victims of discrimination, people with disabilities, children and situations of family poverty, vulnerable groups or groups in a situation of extreme poverty.

Shared responsibility and collective and individual participation, to expand the role of all public or private actors in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

Commitment and political action by the Member States and the EU, and the intensification of actions taken at all levels of authority. In this respect, the potential of the open method of coordination (OMC[m1]) introduced by the EU in 2000 in the fields of social protection and inclusion must be better exploited.

Actions and procedure

This initiative will give rise to actions launched at Community and national level. They will take the form of public awareness campaigns, innovative and creative initiatives, or meetings, discussions and studies. A committee of representatives of the Member States will support the Commission in the implementation of the European Year.

The Member States shall carry out these actions through national programmes adapting the Community guidelines to the challenges and priorities of each country. Each Member State shall appoint a body to prepare and implement these programmes. Those bodies will cooperate with civil society, the social partners, and regional and local authorities.

These objectives should be pursued both within the EU and beyond its borders. The initiative is open to participation by European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States, candidate countries for EU accession and third countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

Context

The building of a society which is founded on social inclusion and on reducing poverty is one of the essential priorities of the EU. At the Lisbon summit in 2000 the Member States committed themselves to making progress towards the elimination of poverty in Europe by 2010.

Carried out in the context of the process of social inclusion, their actions require the wider participation of all the actors involved.

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 1098/2008/EC

27.11.2008

OJ L 298 of 7.11.2008

Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes: criminal investigation and prosecution

Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes: criminal investigation and prosecution

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes: criminal investigation and prosecution

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes: criminal investigation and prosecution

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2003/335/JHA of 8 May 2003 on the investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Summary

The European Union is stepping up cooperation between the Member States’ law-enforcement and prosecution services to work effectively with the criminal investigation and prosecution of the actual or suspected perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and those who have been involved in them. The definition of these crimes is taken over from the Statute of the International Criminal Court

  • Genocide: acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such, including killing members of the group, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;
  • Crimes against humanity: acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, such as murder, extermination, deportation, torture and rape;
  • War crimes: grave breaches of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 such as wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, destruction of property and taking of hostages.

The Member States are to take the necessary measures in order for the law enforcement authorities to be informed when facts are established which give rise to a suspicion that an applicant for a residence permit has committed such crimes. The authorities may then commence criminal proceedings in a Member State or in international criminal courts. Member States are to assist one another in investigating and prosecuting the crimes. They may set up or designate specialist units within the competent law enforcement authorities to that end.

Member States are to coordinate ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute persons suspected of having committed or participated in the commission of the relevant crimes. The contact points designated under Decision 2002/494/JHA are to meet at regular intervals with a view to exchanging information about experiences, practices and methods. These meetings may take place in conjunction with meetings within the European Judicial Network.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2003/335/JHA 14.5.2003 OJ 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.

Respect for and promotion of the values of the Union

Respect for and promotion of the values of the Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Respect for and promotion of the values of the Union

Topics

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

Human rights > Fundamental rights within the European Union

Respect for and promotion of the values of the Union

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 October 2003 on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union: Respect for and promotion of values on which the Union is based [COM(2003) 606 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Respect for human dignity and human rights, liberty, democracy, equality and the rule of law are the common values, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, on which the European Union (EU) is based.

Respect for these principles is a condition of membership of the Union, and Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) equip the institutions with the means of ensuring that all Member States respect these values. Article 7 of the TEU therefore establishes a prevention mechanism in the event of a risk of a breach of these common values by a Member State, and a penalty mechanism in the event of an actual breach.

Conditions of application

Certain conditions must be met for Article 7 of the TEU to be applied:

  • a ‘clear risk of a serious breach’ of values mentioned in Article 2, for the prevention mechanism. At this level the risk remains within the realm of the potential, although purely contingent risks are excluded. This hypothesis provides the institutions with the means of warning the Member State in question before the risk materialises;
  • a ‘serious and persistent breach’ of values mentioned in Article 2, for the penalty mechanism. In this case the risk has actually materialised. This breach must last some time.

In both cases, the breach must be serious. This criterion can be assessed based on the purpose of the breach (the social class affected for example), and its result (the breach of a single common value is enough to activate the mechanism, but a breach of several values may be evidence of a serious breach).

Article 7 of the TEU is not designed to apply to specific breaches which fall within the jurisdiction of the national, European and international courts, but to breaches which concern a more systematic problem.

Application

Article 7 of the TEU gives the Council and the European Council a discretionary power to determine that there is a breach or a risk of a breach of fundamental freedoms. The Council also has the option of applying penalties, but is not obliged to do so. The powers of the Council and the European Council are subject to democratic control by the European Parliament, which must approve their decisions. The Court of Justice reviews the procedure only.

Prevention

The European Parliament’s annual report on the fundamental rights situation in the EU contributes to the elaboration of an exact diagnosis for the Member States of the Union. Other sources are also available (non-governmental organisations, regional and international case law, international organisations, etc.). Individual complaints sent to the Commission and to Parliament are also sources of information about the public’s concerns in fundamental rights matters.

The Commission also insists on the role of the network of independent experts on fundamental rights and its annual report. The network has since been incorporated into the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, set up in 2007, which presents an annual report on the fundamental rights situation in the EU.

In addition, the Commission will henceforth produce an annual report on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The first report was produced for 2010. This monitoring should make it possible to detect situations where there might be breaches of fundamental rights falling within Article 7 of the TEU.

If the Commission were to propose applying Article 7 of the TEU against a Member State, it would establish concertation with the other institutions, especially the European Parliament, and with the Member State concerned at all stages of the procedure. These informal contacts would make it possible to analyse the situation and to gather the opinion of the country concerned.

With a view to the additional exchange of information, the Commission also suggests that contact should be made with the Council of Europe and, in particular, with the Commissioner for Human Rights. For the same purpose, a continuing and regular dialogue with civil society and particularly with the NGOs responsible for protecting and promoting fundamental rights is necessary. Non-Community action is often instrumental in drawing the public’s attention to possible breaches.

Lastly, the Commission considers that it would be worthwhile developing a public awareness and education policy in the fundamental rights field.

Background

The Amsterdam Treaty (1997) introduced a possibility of remedial action by the Union in the event of a serious and persistent breach of common values by a Member State. The Nice Treaty (2001) added a prevention mechanism in the event of a clear risk of a serious breach. A number of amendments to the procedure were introduced subsequently by the Lisbon Treaty (2007).

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 30 March 2011 – 2010 Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights [COM(2011) 160 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

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

The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

Document or Iniciative

Human rights and democracy in the world: report on EU action – July 2008 to December 2009 , Council of the European Union – Brussels, 10 May 2010 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Human rights and democracy are founding values of the European Union (EU), which is committed to promoting them in its external relations. The aim of this eleventh annual report on human rights and democracy is to present an outline of the actions pursued by the EU in this field between 1 July 2008 and 31 December 2009.

Actions in non-EU countries

The EU has several instruments for implementing its policies on human rights and democracy.

During the eighteen months covered by this report, the EU adapted some of the guidelines on which its policy is based, including the guidelines for the promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law and those on human rights dialogues.

The EU currently holds dialogues focused on human rights with around forty countries. The EU makes respect for human rights an essential element of the agreements concluded with non-EU countries. Under the Cotonou Agreement, it has opened consultations with Fiji, Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger and Zimbabwe following violations of human rights and democracy in these countries.

The EU adopted numerous joint actions and common positions. These are legal instruments which define the position to be adopted by the European Union or the means of operational action to be undertaken against human rights violations or in crisis situations. It renewed and extended sanctions against people threatening the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire. Since December 2008, the EU has also conducted a naval operation against piracy off the coast of Somalia (operation EU NAVFOR ATALANTA).

6. In 2008-2009, the EU dedicated EUR 235 million to protecting human rights and democracy, specifically through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

Thematic issues

Many issues are at the heart of the EU’s human rights and democracy policy, in particular:

  • the death penalty, which has been abolished in Burundi and in the US state of New Mexico. The EU played a decisive role in the adoption of the UN General Assembly’s Resolution 63/168 in favour of a moratorium on the death penalty;
  • torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The EU continued to express its concerns in this respect with the non-EU countries concerned. In particular, it intervened in individual cases in Iran, Zimbabwe, China, Bangladesh and Sudan;
  • children and armed conflicts. A process to evaluate the implementation of the EU’s guidelines on children and armed conflicts in priority countries has been initiated;
  • human rights defenders. The EU has reviewed its guidelines in this respect and drawn up implementation strategies for more than sixty countries;
  • the human rights of women. A set of guidelines on violence against women and combating all forms of discrimination against them has been adopted;
  • the International Criminal Court and the fight against impunity. The EU continues to promote the universality and integrity of the Rome Statute in many countries;
  • human rights and terrorism. The EU reaffirmed the need to ensure respect for human rights in counter-terrorism. It welcomed the United States’ decision to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre;
  • freedom of expression. Particular attention has been paid to the relationship between freedom of expression and new technologies;
  • election support. The EU deployed sixteen election observation missions during the period covered by this report;
  • asylum, migration, refugees and displaced persons. The adoption of the Stockholm Programme confirmed that the development of a European migration policy and the completion of a common European Asylum System remain key EU objectives;
  • trafficking in human beings. This is a priority of the new “Prevention of and fight against crime” financing programme;
  • rights of persons belonging to minorities. A European platform for Roma inclusion has been created;
  • rights of persons with disabilities. The EU continued the process towards its accession to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Role in international bodies

On the initiative of the EU, a new interregional resolution on the death penalty was adopted at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly. Two resolutions tabled by the EU denouncing human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Korea and in Burma were also adopted.

Cooperation between the EU and the Council of Europe continued in a satisfactory manner. One of the most important issues has been the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

As part of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union also participated in the dialogue on the future of European security, which dominated the OSCE agenda in 2009.

Fundamental rights within the European Union

Fundamental rights within the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fundamental rights within the European Union

Topics

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

Human rights > Fundamental rights within the European Union

Fundamental rights within the European Union

The European Union (EU) attaches great importance internally to respect for human rights. Its human rights principles are set out in the Treaty on European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Based on initiatives and programmes such as Daphne and PROGRESS, the Union’s action focuses on combating discrimination, racism and xenophobia and on protecting vulnerable groups, such as children, women and minorities. The European Fundamental Rights Agency monitors respect for the Union’s core values. In particular, it provides assistance and expertise to Member States and the Union bodies implementing EU law on fundamental rights.

GENERAL FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS FRAMEWORK

  • Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice
  • Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)
  • The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights
  • Annual Report on Human Rights 2008
  • Action plan on unaccompanied minors (2010-14)
  • Civil Justice specific programme (2007-2013)
  • Combating violence towards children, adolescents and women: Daphne III programme (2007-2013)
  • Action to prevent violence against children, young people and women: the DAPHNE II programme (2004-08)
  • Action to combat violence against children, young persons and women: the Daphne programme
  • Respect for and promotion of the values of the Union
  • The Stockholm Programme
  • Action plan on the Stockholm Programme
  • The Hague Programme: 10 priorities for the next five years

DIGNITY

  • Ban on trade in instruments of torture

FREEDOMS

  • Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

EQUALITY

  • Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities
  • A framework strategy for non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all
  • Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin
  • The principle of equal treatment between persons
  • Agenda for the Rights of the Child
  • Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child

CITIZENS’ RIGHTS

  • Fundamental rights and citizenship (2007-13)

JUSTICE

  • Recognition of decisions in criminal matters: strengthening mutual trust
  • Green Paper on criminal proceedings
  • Green Paper on mutual recognition of non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures

Green Paper on mutual recognition of non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures

Green Paper on mutual recognition of non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on mutual recognition of non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Green Paper on mutual recognition of non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures

By presenting this Green Paper the Commission is initiating a debate on a new legislative instrument which would enable the mutual recognition of judicial decisions relating to non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures. The aim is to comply with one of the general principles of law, namely that custody pending trial should be regarded as an exceptional measure and the widest possible use made of non-custodial supervision measures.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper on mutual recognition of non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures [COM (2004) 562 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Green Paper is designed to serve as a basis for preparation of a new legislative instrument on mutual recognition of judicial decisions relating to non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures. A Commission staff working paper associated with the Green Paper contains a detailed analysis of the relevant legal framework and the Commission’s thinking on how such an instrument could be drawn up.

Its main objective is to extend the consultation process to a wider public, including legal practitioners, relevant NGOs, and academic circles. Some of the items dealt with in this Green Paper have already been covered in an earlier Green Paper and in the proposal for a Council Framework Decision on certain procedural rights.

Why the Commission is presenting a Green Paper

The excessive use of pre-trial detention is one of the main causes of prison overpopulation. Owing to the risk of flight, non-resident suspects are often remanded in custody, while residents benefit from alternative measures.

The general principles of law dictate that custody pending trial should be regarded as an exceptional measure and preference be given to non-custodial supervision measures. However, such non-custodial measures cannot at present be transposed across borders as States do not recognise foreign judicial decisions in this area.

The introduction of a legal instrument enabling the Member States of the European Union to mutually recognise non-custodial pre-trial supervision measures would:

  • help reduce the number of non-resident pre-trial detainees in the European Union;
  • reinforce the right to liberty and the presumption of innocence in the European Union;
  • decrease the risk of unequal treatment of non-resident suspects.

There is a clear mandate to take action on this issue under the programme of measures to implement the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters adopted on November 2000, the broad lines of which were set out in the Commission staff working paper.

The main idea of this new instrument is to substitute pre-trial detention with a non-custodial supervision measure and to transfer this measure to the Member State where the suspect normally has his or her residence. This would allow suspects to be subject to a supervision measure in their normal environment until such time as they are brought to trial in the foreign Member State..

For such a measure to be effective the new instrument would have to include, as a last resort, a coercive mechanism to return uncooperative suspects to the trial State, if necessary by force.

The consultation process

This Green Paper is the third step in the consultation process on alternatives to pre-trial detention.

The first step was to draw up and send out a questionnaire on pre-trial detention and alternatives to such detention in order to identify possible obstacles to cooperation between Member States in this area. The replies are summarised in the Commission staff working paper.

The second step was to produce a discussion paper on the basis of the replies to the questionnaire and to organise an experts’ meeting. The paper includes a proposal to introduce a European order to report regularly to a designated authority as a European-level non-custodial pre-trial supervision measure.

 

Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

Topics

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

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

  • free movement of workers;
  • employment and remuneration;
  • improvement of working conditions;
  • social protection;
  • freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • vocational training;
  • equal treatment for men and women;
  • information, consultation and participation of workers;
  • health protection and safety at the workplace;
  • protection of children, adolescents, elderly persons, and disabled persons.

These social rights represent a foundation of minimum provisions common to all the European Union (EU) Member States. The provisions of the Charter were kept by the Lisbon Treaty (Article 151 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) and by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Context

The Charter was adopted in accordance with the preamble of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, which recognised the need to continually work towards improving the living and working conditions of European citizens.

It was only adopted by the United Kingdom in 1998 as part of the integration of the principles of the Charter into the Amsterdam Treaty.

Annual Report on Human Rights 2008

Annual Report on Human Rights 2008

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Annual Report on Human Rights 2008

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 2008

This report presents European Union (EU) actions and policies to promote human rights throughout the world during the period of 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008. It presents thematic issues and actions taken vis-à-vis third countries as well as in international fora.

Document or Iniciative

EU Annual Report on Human Rights 2008 . Council of the European Union – Brussels, 27 November 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Union (EU) is committed to the promotion of human rights and continuously works to develop and strengthen action to that end. The aim of this tenth annual report on human rights is to present an overview of EU actions in this field between 1 July 2007 and 30 June 2008.

Actions in third countries

Joint actions covered by this report mainly relate to the appointment of EU special representatives (EUSRs) for the African Union and Kosovo, as well as to crisis management operations. In the context of the latter, experts on women’s rights and on children affected by armed conflict were appointed to several European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operations/missions. The importance of mainstreaming human rights and gender issues into the ESDP was further emphasised with the June 2008 handbook on guiding principles for planners of EU operations.

New EU guidelines on the rights of the child were adopted in 2007, while the guidelines on children and armed conflict, death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment were updated in 2008. A number of declarations were made, such as on humanitarian agreements in Colombia as well as on the abolition of the death penalty and the release of human rights defenders in Uzbekistan. Dialogues and consultations on human rights were established with third countries, bringing their number up to over 30. The report provides detailed descriptions on the consultations with China, Iran, Central Asian states, the African Union, Russia, the US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and candidate countries. A human rights clause was included in an interim agreement on trade and trade-related matters concluded with the Republic of Montenegro in October 2007.

In 2007, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) succeeded the previous EIDHR initiative. Under the new instrument, human rights and democracy projects in over 80 countries were funded with an overall budget of EUR 108 million during 2007-08. EU Election Observation Missions (EOMs) were also funded under the EIDHR.

Thematic issues

In promoting human rights, the EU concentrates on a wide range of thematic issues. During the period under review, these included:

  • the death penalty, which was abolished in Rwanda, Uzbekistan, the Cook Islands and the state of New Jersey in the US;
  • rights of the child, on which the European Commission issued the communication “A Special Place for Children in the EU External Action” and the Council adopted conclusions with regard to EU development and humanitarian policies. In addition, the Commission funded a number of projects under the “Investing in People” programme and signed a contract with UNICEF to develop a toolkit to mainstream children’s rights across various political and programmatic actions;
  • children in armed conflicts, on which the EU updated the list of priority countries, revised the checklist to integrate the protection of children affected by armed conflict into its ESDP operations and issued a study entitled “Enhancing the EU response to children affected by armed conflict”;
  • women’s rights, which were included into the EU-funded Initiative for Peacebuilding (IfP) and the regional programme “Enhancing equality between men and women in the Euromed region”. In addition, the Commission has established a three-year partnership with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM);
  • trafficking in human beings, for which the Commission established a new group of experts, and prepared a report on the implementation of the EU action plan. The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings entered into force. It has been ratified by ten and signed by another 15 EU Member States;
  • the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the fight against impunity. The EU carried out 18 démarches to encourage ratification of the Rome Statute, negotiated the insertion of an ICC clause in a number of agreements and, with its Member States, remained the Court’s biggest financial supporter;
  • human rights and terrorism, on which the European Parliament adopted a resolution;
  • democracy and elections, on which the Commission published two manuals: the “Handbook for EU Election Observation” and “The Compendium of International Standards for Elections”;
  • economic, social and cultural rights. The EU lobbied successfully for the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declaration on social justice for a fair globalisation;
  • intercultural dialogue was promoted through the European agenda for culture in a globalised world as well as through actions under the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue and the “Euro-Mediterranean year of dialogue between cultures”;
  • asylum and migration. The Global Approach to Migration was extended to the eastern and south-eastern neighbours of the EU and the “Thematic cooperation programme with third countries in the development aspects of migration and asylum” (2007-13) was initiated;
  • persons with disabilities. The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force. It was signed by the European Community and all its Member States;
  • indigenous issues. The UN adopted a declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples and the joint Commission-ILO project “Promotion of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Rights through Legal Advice, Capacity Building and Dialogue” was launched.

Actions in international fora

At the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in October-November 2007, 104 countries adopted a resolution initiated by the EU together with other co-authors that calls for a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its abolition. Two other thematic resolutions of particular importance to the EU were the omnibus resolution on the rights of the child and the resolution on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion and belief. The EU also initiated the resolutions on the national human rights situations in Burma/Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The reform of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has now been completed. The EU supported the launch of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the first session of which was carried out during the first half of 2008. This is a HRC mechanism for reviewing the human rights situation in all countries of the world at four-year intervals.

In May 2007, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the EU and the Council of Europe (CoE) for their cooperation. In June 2008, the Commission and the CoE signed an agreement on the latter’s cooperation with the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Agenda for the Rights of the Child

Agenda for the Rights of the Child

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agenda for 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

Agenda for the Rights of the Child

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 February 2011 – An EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child [COM(2011) 60 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Treaty of Lisbon makes the promotion and protection of the rights of the child one of the objectives of the European Union (EU). These rights form part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU which encourages public authorities and private institutions to ensure that respect for the best interests of the child is treated as a key element when defining and implementing measures concerning children. In addition, all Member States have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The Commission Agenda for the Rights of the Child aims at ensuring that all EU policies having repercussions on children respect their rights. It defines the principles and objectives of the EU in this field and presents eleven actions that Commission will undertake in the coming years.

General principles

In accordance with the strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the EU, the Commission must ensure respect for fundamental rights, and therefore the rights of the child, throughout the legislative procedure and during implementation of legislation.

The Commission also undertakes to work with the competent organisations in order to produce reliable, comparable and official data which will enable evidence-based policies on the rights of the child to be developed and implemented.

Lastly, the European executive undertakes to pursue and to strengthen its cooperation with stakeholders and to foster the exchange of good practices with and between the national authorities responsible for the protection and promotion of the rights of the child.

Aims

  • Adapting justice to children: whether they are victims, witnesses to crimes, suspects, asylum seekers or whether their parents are divorcing, children may be confronted with the judicial system for a number of reasons. The Union must give them access to justice taking into account their specific needs and their vulnerability;
  • Protecting the most vulnerable children: EU action must prioritise targeting those categories of children that are particularly vulnerable, such as children at risk of poverty and social exclusion, disabled children, children seeking asylum, Roma children and missing children. At another level, young Internet users are also vulnerable since they may be exposed to harmful content or become victims of cyber-bullying;
  • Promoting and protecting the rights of the child in the EU’s external action: the Union wishes to prioritise the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in its relations with third countries. It will focus on combating violence against children, child labour, the involvement of children in armed groups, and sexual tourism, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, trade instruments and humanitarian aid;
  • Raising children’s awareness: Eurobarometer surveys show that 76 % of children interviewed are not aware that they have rights and 79 % do not know who to contact in case of need. The Union wishes to better inform children concerning their rights in order that they may participate in decisions concerning them.

Actions

The EU proposes eleven actions aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of the child, namely:

  • adopting a proposal for a directive aimed at strengthening the protection of vulnerable victims, particularly children;
  • submitting a proposal for a directive laying down specific guarantees for vulnerable suspects, particularly children;
  • reviewing legislation which facilitates the recognition and enforcement of decisions on parental responsibility;
  • promoting the Council of Europe guidelines on child-friendly justice and taking them into account when drafting civil and criminal legislation;
  • supporting the training of judges and other professionals in order to foster optimal participation of children in judicial systems;
  • improving the training of the authorities that deal with unaccompanied minors from third countries when they arrive on EU territory;
  • paying particular attention to children in measures that Member States may take to foster the integration of Roma;
  • encouraging the rapid introduction of the European hotline for missing children (116 000) and the introduction of “abduction alert” systems;
  • adopting measures as part of the EU Safer Internet programme against bullying, grooming, exposure to harmful content, and the other risks run by young Internet users;
  • implementing the EU guidelines for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in its relations with third countries as well as its guidelines on children and armed conflict;
  • creating a single entry point for children on the Europa website enabling them to access information on the Union and their rights.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 4 July 2006 – Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child [COM(2006) 367 final – Not published in the Official Journal].