"Crises, poverty and many attempts worldwide to shrink the space of civil society require all our attention and efforts on human rights. We face everyday the dramatic situation of people oppressed and forced to flee from conflicts, of women struggling to defend their dignity and their rights, of children reduced to slavery, of citizens who's basic rights are systematically ignored. The Action Plan we are launching today reinforces the EU's commitment to human rights, and focuses on empowering local actors and civil society organisations. All EU member states stand united in taking it forward".
Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
1. Welcoming the Joint Communication "Keeping human rights at the heart of the EU agenda", as presented by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission, the Council adopts a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for the period 2015-2019. With this Action Plan, the Council reaffirms the European Union's commitment to promote and protect human rights and to support democracy worldwide.
2. Based on the Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy and the 2012-2014 Action Plan, the European Union has made considerable progress in improving the impact and coherence of its actions on human rights and democracy. The EU has further developed guidelines on key human rights issues, enhanced the effectiveness of bilateral human rights and democracy work, successfully promoted action at the multilateral level, and improved the mainstreaming of human rights across the EU's external action. The Council also welcomes the important work of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis, who greatly contributes to the effectiveness, coherence and visibility of EU human rights policy, and expresses full political support for his work.
3. Today's complex crises and widespread violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms require ever more determined efforts by the EU. This Action Plan should enable the EU to meet these challenges through more focused action, systematic and co-ordinated use of the instruments at its disposal, and enhanced impact of its policies and tools on the ground. The EU will put special emphasis on ownership by, and co-operation with, local institutions and mechanisms, including national human rights institutions, as well as civil society. The EU will promote the principles of non-discrimination, gender equality and women's empowerment. The EU will also ensure a comprehensive human rights approach to preventing and addressing conflicts and crises, and further mainstream human rights in the external aspects of EU policies in order to ensure better policy coherence, in particular in the fields of migration, trade and investment, development cooperation and counter terrorism.
4. The EU remains committed to implementing the entire human rights and democracy agenda as reflected in the 2012 Strategic Framework for Human Rights and Democracy, which continues to guide the Union's actions, and in the EU human rights guidelines, Council Conclusions and strategy papers. The EU will continue to promote and defend the universality and indivisibility of all human rights in partnership with countries from all regions, in close cooperation with international and regional organisations, and with civil society. The EU will step up its efforts to promote a safe and enabling environment in which civil society and independent media can flourish. The EU emphasises the key contribution that civil society actors and human rights defenders make to peace and security, stability and prosperity.
5. The Council commends the important role played by the High Representative/Vice-President and the European Commission in promoting a consistent and coherent implementation of the EU's human rights policy. The Action Plan will be implemented with the close involvement of the European Parliament and regular consultation with relevant stakeholders, in particular civil society organisations. The EU is committed to improve public diplomacy and communication on its human rights actions. A mid-term review of the Action Plan will be undertaken in 2017 which will coincide with the mid-term review of the external financing instruments in order to ensure greater coherence. The Council invites all partners to contribute to the success of this Action Plan and to promote human rights and democracy around the world.