As we approach Human Rights Day on 10 December, the European Union and its Member States reaffirm their strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. The establishment of the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime is a landmark initiative to underscore the EU’s determination to enhance its role in addressing serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide.
Realising the effective enjoyment of human rights by everyone is a strategic goal of the EU. Respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are fundamental values of the European Union and the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
States have primary responsibility to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. The reality is that even in the 21st century, we witness serious human rights violations and abuses in several parts of the world – frequently without any consequences for the perpetrators. Acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity, torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests or detentions, and human trafficking are unacceptable. Putting an end to human rights violations and abuses worldwide is a key priority for the EU. The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime provides the EU with an additional instrument to be able to stand up for human rights in a more tangible and direct way.
The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime targets individuals and entities responsible for or involved in serious human rights violations or abuses as well as individuals and entities associated with them. It can target state and non-state actors. Consequently, perpetrators and their associates can be banned from entering the EU, their assets in the EU frozen and EU persons prohibited from making any funds and economic resources available to them.
The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime is not country-specific. It can tackle serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, including those taking place cross-border. It complements geographical sanctions regimes addressing human rights violations and abuses.
Sanctions alone cannot prevent or end all human rights violations and abuses. They are intended to change an actor’s behaviour and serve as a deterrent to serious human rights violations and abuses. Their application will be consistent with the EU comprehensive foreign policy approach. In that context, the EU will make use of the full range of its political and financial instruments to further advance and protect human rights as envisaged in the recently adopted Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2020-2024).