Tag Archives: Guidelines

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.

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.

Promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law: Guidelines

Promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law: Guidelines

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law: Guidelines

Topics

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

Humanitarian aid

Promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law: Guidelines

The European Union sets out guidelines with a view to promoting compliance with international humanitarian law in its relations with third countries.

Document or Iniciative

European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law [Official Journal C 327 of 23.12.2005].

Summary

Founded on the principles of freedom, respect for human rights and the rule of law, a key objective of the European Union (EU) is to promote compliance with international humanitarian law.

The purpose of these Guidelines is to set out the tools available to the EU and its institutions and bodies to promote compliance with international humanitarian law by third countries and non-State actors operating in these countries.

International humanitarian law

International humanitarian law, also known as the Law of Armed Conflict or the Law of War, aims to protect those who are not, or are no longer, taking part directly in the hostilities. It also aims to restrict the means and methods of warfare. Based on international conventions and customary international law, international humanitarian law is applicable to any armed conflicts, international or internal, and to situations of occupation arising from an armed conflict.

This characteristic distinguishes it from international human rights law, which is applicable to everyone within the jurisdiction of the State concerned in peacetime as well as in time of armed conflict. However, these two sets of rules may both be applicable to a particular situation.

Certain serious violations of international humanitarian law are defined as war crimes. In this case, individuals bear personal responsibility. States must ensure that alleged perpetrators are brought before national or international tribunals (international criminal court – ICC).

Operational guidelines

In order to enable effective action, the Guidelines provide for the preparation of reports, assessments and recommendations for action, and in particular for:

  • identifying situations where international humanitarian law is applicable by the responsible EU bodies. This includes consultations with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations and drawing on the services of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC). Where appropriate, these bodies must define and recommend actions to promote compliance with international humanitarian law;
  • including the assessment of the international humanitarian law situation in the reports about a State or conflict by EU Heads of Mission, Heads of Civilian Operations, Commanders of Military Operations and Special Representatives. Where feasible, these reports should also include an analysis and suggestions of possible measures to be taken by the EU;
  • informing the Council Working Group on International Law (COJUR) on situations where an armed conflict may be at hand. If necessary, COJUR could be tasked to make suggestions of future EU action.

The EU has several means of action at its disposal in its relations with third countries, with a view to promoting compliance with international humanitarian law:

  • political dialogue, both in the context of armed conflicts and in peacetime;
  • general public statements, emphasising the need to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law;
  • démarches and public statements condemning violations of international humanitarian law in the context of a conflict;
  • restrictivemeasures and sanctions against the parties to a conflict;
  • cooperation with other international bodies, especially the United Nations, the relevant regional organisations and the ICRC;
  • crisis-managementoperations, especially by collecting information of use for the ICC or in other investigations of war crimes;
  • promotion by the EU of combating impunity for war crimes and encouragement of third countries to enact penal legislation to punish violations of international humanitarian law;
  • training and education in international humanitarian law, especially for law enforcement officials and military personnel, and the financing of programmes for training and education in international humanitarian law in third countries;
  • the granting licences for the export of arms to an importing country. The European Code of Conduct on Arms Export provides that an importing country’s compliance with international humanitarian law should be considered before licences to export to that country are granted.

Background

These Guidelines are complementary to the Council’s Common Position on the ICC and the EU guidelines and policies on human rights dialogues, torture, children and armed conflict and defenders of human rights [FR].

State Aid: Guidelines

State Aid: Guidelines

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about State Aid: Guidelines

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

Competition > Rules applicable to specific sectors > Competition in agriculture and fisheries

State Aid: Guidelines

Document or Iniciative

Guidelines for the examination of State aid to fisheries and aquaculture [Official Journal C 84, 3.4.2008].

Summary

State aid is in principle prohibited by the Treaty establishing the European Community because it is likely to result in unfair competition in the internal market. Nevertheless, derogations may be granted. For the purpose of these Guidelines on fisheries and aquaculture, the derogations are administered by the Commission.

These Guidelines apply to the fisheries sector and to the activities linked to harvesting aquatic resources and aquaculture, as well as to the production, processing and marketing methods used for the resulting products.

These Guidelines cover all measures which constitute aid within the meaning of Article 87 (1) of the EC Treaty, whatever their form and whether they are directly or indirectly financed by public funds.

To benefit fisheries and aquaculture, the rules on State aid set out in Articles 87 to 89 of the EC Treaty do not apply to financial contributions made by Member States to operations co-financed by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and provided for as part of an operational programme.

The Member States are obliged to notify the Commission of any State aid they plan to grant so that the Commission can ensure that the proposed aid is compatible with Community rules. Government aid must be in accordance with the objectives of the Competition Policy and those of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The aid may not be protective in nature and it may not be granted for activities that the beneficiary has already begun.

Aid that meets the criteria set by the exemption Regulation which is due to be adopted in the near future (to replace Regulation No 1595/2004 which expired on 31.12.2006), as well as aid for training, research or employment, may be exempted from the notification obligation.

The Member State must supply information on the amount and intensity of the aid. Aid schemes must be limited in duration to a maximum of 10 years. Two months before this expiry date, an application may be made to extend the scheme. In this case, the Member State must give reasons and must re-notify the scheme. If it becomes apparent that the beneficiary of the aid scheme is not complying with the rules of the CFP, the grant must be reimbursed in proportion to the gravity of the infringement.

The Commission states that State aid for the export of or trade in fishery products within the Community, as well as operating aid, is in principle incompatible with the internal market.

The Guidelines on regional aid do not apply to fisheries and aquaculture.

The following are compatible with the common market:

  • Aid for measures covered by an exemption Regulation;
  • Aid falling within the scope of certain horizontal guidelines (rescue and restructuring of firms in difficulty);
  • Aid for the equipment and modernisation of fishing vessels is incompatible with the common market unless it is granted to boats that are five years old or older and is intended to improve on-board safety, working conditions, hygiene, product quality, energy efficiency or selectivity, without increasing the fishing vessel’s catch potential. It must not exceed the overall rate set by Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006;
  • Aid to repair damage caused by natural disasters or other exceptional occurrences;
  • Tax relief and labour-related costs for fishing vessels fishing for tuna or tuna-like species which operate outside Community waters;
  • Aid financed through parafiscal charges;
  • Special aid for the outermost regions;
  • Aid that makes it possible to take other measures which clearly contribute to achieving the goals of the Common Fisheries Policy.

These Guidelines will apply as from 1 April 2008 to any State aid notified after this date.