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