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Human rights

Human rights
Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and
respect for human rights these values are embedded in the EU
treaties. Now they have been reinforced by the Charter of
Fundamental Rights.
EU countries and prospective EU members must respect human rights.

Human rights are universal.

Through its human rights policy the EU

defends civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights


seeks to promote the rights of women, children, minorities, and
displaced persons
opposes the death penalty, torture, human trafficking and
discrimination
demonstrates its commitment to defending the universal and
indivisible nature of human rights by working in full and active
partnership with partner countries, international organisations,
regional organisations and groups and associations at all levels of
society.

Human rights mean many things to many people.

Human rights don't discriminate


The 2012 strategic framework and action plan on human rights
and democracy is designed to improve the effectiveness and
consistency of EU human rights policy as a whole. In 2012, the EU
appointed its first ever EU Special Representative for Human
Rights, Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis. His role is to make EU external
human rights policy more effective and bring it to public attention.

Children need special protection.

Protecting fundamental rights at home


In the EU, fundamental rights are guaranteed nationally by the
constitutions of individual countries and at EU level by the EU Charter
of Fundamental Rights (adopted in 2000 and binding on EU
countries since 2009). After they have been through the national
courts, individuals may, as a last resort, bring a case before the
European Court of Human Rights.
All EU institutions the Commission, Parliament and Council have a
role to play in protecting human rights. They are backed up by the
Fundamental Rights Agency, which identifies and analyses major
trends in this field.
The Charter embodies in a single instrument the fundamental rights
that are binding upon the EU institutions and bodies. It also applies to
national governments when they are implementing EU law.

Promoting human rights worldwide

The EU works to alleviate poverty and prevent conflicts.

Human rights work is an essential part of alleviating poverty and


preventing and resolving conflicts. This is why human rights are at the
very heart of EU relations with other countries and regions.
All agreements on trade or cooperation with non-EU countries include
a human rights clause stipulating that human rights are central to
relations with the EU. There are now over 120 such agreements. The
EU has imposed sanctions for human rights breaches on countries
including Belarus and Iran.
The EU also pursues human rights dialogues with over 40 countries
and organisations, including Russia, China and the African Union. Its
Annual Report appraises its human rights work worldwide.
Through the European instrument for democracy and human
rights, the EU supports groups and associations or individuals that
defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the
rule of law. This instrument has a budget of 1.3 billion for 2014-2020.