The Council has adopted the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2014. Throughout this challenging year the EU addressed many human rights violations around the world, on the staunch belief that defending and promoting human rights, inclusive and democratic societies are the only way to guarantee security and stability throughout the world. The 2014 Annual Report outlines the consistent efforts of the EU, its extensive network of 139 EU Delegations, the High Representative and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, throughout the world to promote the universality of human rights around the world.
Throughout 2014, the EU engaged in formal human rights dialogues and consultations with 37 partner countries and regional groupings. In addition, many of the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that are party to the Cotonou Agreement conducted a dialogue with the EU. For the first time, a human rights dialogue was held with Myanmar/Burma.
The EU denounced the shrinking space for civil society in many countries, the increasing restrictions placed upon non-governmental organisations and the harassment and severe human rights violations inflicted upon activists. The EU condemned attacks against journalists and bloggers through public statements and in the framework of its bilateral relations. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) remained a key financial tool to support civil society organisations active on human rights, and also human rights defenders, including journalists and bloggers.
The EU reiterated its commitment to supporting human rights defenders. Marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of EU guidelines on human rights defenders, the Council in June 2014 emphasised the particularly important role of women human rights defenders and those from vulnerable and marginalised groups. EU Guidelines on freedom of expression offline and online were adopted and the annual EU NGO Human Rights Forum in December 2014, dedicated to the protection and promotion of freedom of expression with the participation of more than 200 NGOs from all over the world.
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the EU continued its efforts to prevent and eradicate torture and Ill-treatment. Through the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and UN specialised agencies such as the ILO, the EU continued to fully support the multilateral human rights system, which plays a critical role in the promotion and protection of universal human rights norms and standards, and in the monitoring of compliance.
The EU contributed to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The EU remains strongly committed to protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, pledging more than EUR 100 million for the next seven years to gender equality and children's wellbeing, including concrete projects on ending female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage.