Article 21 of the Treaty of the European Union states that the European Union is guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.

The EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for the period 2020-2024 reaffirms EU’s strong commitment to further advancing universal values for all.

The action plan aims to:

  • improve EU leadership on human rights and streamline its decision-making;
  • strengthen partnerships with governments, businesses and social partners;
  • address accountability gaps and erosion of the rule of law;
  • identify where new technologies can help improve human rights.


The new Action Plan 2020-2024 sets out overarching priorities and objectives to be translated and implemented in the next years at all levels: country, regional and multilateral. It builds on the previous action plans and continues to focus on long-standing priorities such as supporting human rights defenders and the fight against the death penalty. By identifying five interlinked and mutually reinforcing priorities: (1) protecting and empowering individuals; (2) building resilient, inclusive and democratic societies; (3) promoting a global system for human rights and democracy; (4) new technologies: harnessing opportunities and addressing challenges; and (5) delivering by working together, the Action Plan also reflects the changing context with attention to new technologies and to the link between global environmental challenges and human rights. In line with the EU Gender Action Plan III, gender mainstreaming is to be applied throughout all actions to ensure that all measures are gender responsive.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic illustrated the importance of multilateralism, global cooperation and solidarity. This means early engagement to address human rights violations and support democracy. A renewed focus on human rights and democracy fosters state and societal resilience. The Action Plan contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), enhance the human rights of all, without discrimination on any grounds.

All human rights are embedded across the SDGs, and particularly SDG 16, democratic governance, rule of law, access to justice and personal security.

Although the current Human Rights Result Chain and Indicators is aligned with the latest Action Plan, it needs to be noted that human rights encompass a number of specific sectors, for which separate Results Chains with corresponding indicators have been developed. Interested parties are encouraged to visit these distinct Results Chains and Indicators, and especially the ones covering Democracy, Justice Sector Reform, Resilience, Conflict Sensitivity and Peace, Education, Nutrition, Social Protection and Health (link to be inserted when available), as well as Migration, Forced Displacement, and a Guidance on Gender Equality

Policy and Strategic Documents.


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