Human Rights Day: Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union

10 December is Human Rights Day which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This day serves as an opportunity to recall that human rights are universal, indivisible, inalienable, interdependent and interrelated. Whilst their promotion and protection is an imperative to uphold human dignity, the genuine respect and fulfilment of human rights is also indispensable for peace, democracy and sustainable development.

Yet, this year we have witnessed particularly serious attacks on human rights, on a massive scale, ranging from Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine that has caused and continues to cause inconceivable human suffering, to the grave human rights violations and abuses in Afghanistan, Belarus, Ethiopia, and  Myanmar/Burma. The EU has also expressed deep concern about the further deteriorating human rights situation in Russia and addressed the human rights situation in China as well as the on-going violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Iran. Women and girls have been particularly targeted by repression and restrictive policies in many countries, and have suffered disproportionately from human rights abuses in conflict settings. Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression online and offline, freedom of the media remain under serious threat. This adds to an ever-growing list of violations across the world that remain the focus of our attention.

The EU will continue to monitor, raise attention to and take decisive action in international fora to combat and prevent human rights violations and abuses, and to support international initiatives to hold all perpetrators to account.

Under the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024, the EU is making use of its wide range of instruments to uphold and advance human rights around the world. Among those are bilateral and multilateral cooperation in human rights, the imposition of sanctions on persons and entities involved in serious violations and abuses of human rights, as well as program and project support under the Thematic Programme on Human Rights and Democracy 2021-2027.

The EU stands by and supports  human rights defenders and civil society organizations around the world.  In the same vein, the 24th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum this year will again serve as a platform to engage with human rights defenders across the globe. We will discuss possibilities and best practices of putting an end to impunity and ensuring access to justice and accountability for human rights violations and abuses.

On Human Rights Day, we commit to re-double our efforts to stand with and speak out for the oppressed and those under threat, wherever they may live.