Human rights will remain the compass in the EU's foreign policy and its relations with other institutions and civil society.
This week the European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Security Policy adopted a joint Communication on an EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy which will cover the period 2015-2019.
The proposed Action Plan addresses key areas of human rights policy and focuses on priorities where enhanced commitment is required, capitalising on the achievements of the previous Action Plan (2012-2014).
With this initiative, the High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini intends to renew the EU's commitment to place human rights at the heart of the EU foreign policy agenda. She said: "Human rights will be one of the overarching priorities of my mandate, a compass in all relations within EU Institutions, as well as with third countries, international organizations and civil society."
"This Communication comes at a crucial moment, when the world is redefining its global development agenda for the next decades; and human rights and democratic values are often questioned in several parts of the world, if not ignored”, added EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.
The Joint Action Plan identifies the following five strategic areas of action:
- Boosting the role of local actors
- addressing key human rights challenges
- ensuring a comprehensive human rights approach to conflict and crises
- fostering better policy coherence and consistency
- deepening the effectiveness and results-based culture in human rights and democracy
The EU Strategic Framework and the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy commit the Union to promoting human rights in all areas of external relations without exception. Current discussions around the post-2015 sustainable development goals, with an emphasis on human rights and women's rights as self-standing goals, reflect this objective.
The actions proposed under the Joint Action Plan should apply to all regions of the world, taking into consideration local needs.
The Commission's adoption of the proposal on 28 April is the first step towards the finalisation of the Action Plan by the Council of the European Union, expected before the summer.
This Communication follows and builds on the ''Human Rights package'' which was adopted in June 2012. It comprised the Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy (the EU human rights political commitment), the Action Plan (2012-2014) and the appointment of an EU Special Representative on Human Rights.
The Action Plan 2012-2014 contained a set of 97 actions covering a broad range of human rights and democracy issues and committed all EU stakeholders to clear objectives within well-defined timelines. It catalysed efforts towards promoting a more effective, more visible, more accountable and more coherent human rights policy and has led to a number of clear and measurable achievements.
For more information:
Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council: Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019) 'Keeping human rights at the heart of the EU agenda'.