Today, the 10th December, marks International Human Rights Day. All around the world people have come together to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). I personally spent part of the day outside of the European Commission alongside Amnesty International highlighting the intrinsic relationship between the EU and human rights.
Sometimes, it is easy to underestimate the role of the EU in protecting human rights. It is easy to forget that the EU was founded as a union of principle set up to protect and advance these fundamental rights. I opened this blog with a comment piece on the EU and Uzbekistan highlighting how the EU can have a detrimental effect on human rights. Overwhelmingly however we can see that the EU has advanced the adoption of universal human rights through its work.
The EU pushes human rights on a number of levels, through enlargement, trade agreements, foreign policy, neighbourhood strategies, strategic partnerships and in direct dialogues. The EU has got a commitment main-streamed throughout nearly all of its work to further human rights. What we need however, is a renewed commitment to making these commitments a reality. Too often we can see human rights being sidelined because of other commitments whether it is energy security, trade or defence.
I have written before that without common values the EU is reduced to a large lumbering block of countries. It is only through shared values such as human rights that it draws any political strength. If the EU wants to maintain its position in global affairs it must unite behind these shared values.
For more information on how the EU affects human rights, have a look at: