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The EU’s 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights

This Report presents the actions and policies pursued by the European Union (EU) to promote human rights and democracy in the world between July 2008 and December 2009.

ACT

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.

Last updated: 30.06.2011
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