Defending human rights
The latest Human Rights Report was presented to foreign affairs ministers on 10 May by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and chair of the Foreign Affairs Council. The report gives an overview of the wide range of EU activities to promote human rights worldwide, covering the period from July 2008 to December 2009.
Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are core values of the European Union. Not only are they part of the EU’s identity, but the Union also has a vocation to bring them to its external relations.
The report covers thematic issues, such as freedom of thought and human rights of women, as well as the Union’s action on human rights in various countries. For example, during the report period, the EU provided over € 235 million in funding for 900 projects of non-governmental organisations in some 100 countries. It also spoke out for the protection of human rights at the United Nations and other international fora, and increased the number of human rights dialogues it conducts with non-EU countries. At present, the EU’s agreements with more than 120 countries include a human rights clause, which gives the possibility of re-examining the agreement in the event of serious breaches of human rights.
Starting from the next edition, due to come out in 2011, reports will cover the previous calendar year. The next report will be the first one to describe the situation after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The changes brought about by the treaty are expected to positively contribute to the effectiveness of the Union’s action in this field.