As the EU reorganises its external policies, the latest report ‘Human rights and democracy in the world’ takes stock of EU efforts to project its basic values around the world.
Between July 2008 and December 2009 the EU provided over €235 million to 900 human rights projects of non-governmental organisations in 100 countries. It sent election observers to 16 countries. And it increased its human rights dialogues with foreign governments.
Combined with extensive work behind the scenes, this adds up to a solid record of activity. This is outlined in the report, presented by High Representative Catherine Ashton and adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 May.
‘Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are the basic values on which EU foreign policy is built. They are a silver thread running through all that we do,’ said HR Ashton, adding that she looks forward to taking this work forward through the European External Action Service.
Whether through political oppression, conflict, poverty or isolation, reports on the abuse of human rights around the world continue to shock. Within Europe, the EU’s enlargement policy is perhaps its most effective tool in promoting human rights, making membership to the Union reliant upon their protection.
Elsewhere, political dialogue is the most effective way of influencing human rights, and strategic partnerships with the world’s major economies put the EU in a position to raise concerns. When formal dialogue proves ineffective, the EU issues public declarations to raise awareness of particular issues. Some 58 such declarations were published over the 18-month period.
As this reporting period came to a close, the Lisbon Treaty came into force. With it came the potential to further increase the effectiveness, coherence and transparency of EU human rights policy. The Treaty also provides for EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.