Human rights and democracy in the world: Council approves 2019 EU annual report

The Council today approved the 2019 EU annual report on human rights and democracy in the world.

The report marks the final phase of implementation of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019) and confirms that in 2019 the EU demonstrated once more its commitment to protect, support and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.

However, in many parts of the world, challenges remain. Human rights defenders, journalists and media workers are under threat and attack because of their daily work, civic and democratic space continues to be restricted, women’s and girls’ human rights are being violated, and vulnerable groups are often left behind and exposed to further discrimination and inequality.

In 2019 the international community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, and the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization.

These anniversaries and challenges gave great impetus to the EU’s continuous efforts to translate its legal and policy frameworks on human rights into reality. As a result, on 9 December 2019 the Foreign Affairs Council agreed on the need to work on a possible EU global human rights sanctions regime to tackle serious human rights violations worldwide committed by state and non-state actors.

In 2019 the EU remained a leader in the universal promotion and protection of human rights at multilateral level and continued to support human rights, democracy, the rule of law and gender equality in all relevant fora, including the UN Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. The EU also supported the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, specialised UN agencies, and other organisations within the UN system, such as the International Labour Organization.