60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Time to Deliver
(Brussels, 9 December) Amnesty International today called on the EU to make tomorrow’s 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) a time for action as well as celebration.
Although the EU has been a human rights leader on some important issues, such as helping to abolish the death penalty, progress on basic human rights should not be taken for granted, neither in the EU nor in the world.
The complicity of member states in CIA led renditions, for example, remains a key area illustrating serious EU shortcomings. Given the gravity of the violations at stake the EU’s response to this issue has been far too limited and indeed as of yet there are still no guarantees that renditions have stopped.
“The recent revelations indicating that the Spanish government authorized renditions demonstrate, once again, the involvement of member states in such illegal practices. It took the EU four years to denounce Guantanamo, how long will it take for it to address the illegalities that occurred in its territory with the complicity of its member states ” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.
Discrimination is another key area where the EU has not lived up to the spirit of the UN Declaration. The idea that all human beings should benefit from the same rights should be the cornerstone of a Union which claims to be based on “values”. Yet the actions of member states with regard to migrants, Roma or LGBT* people, for example, show discrimination across Europe is still prevalent.
“The EU Directive on discrimination that is being prepared is a good step to address this question but the fact that it has still not gathered the support of all member states and is in danger of being watered down is disturbing” Beger added.
Noting the impact of the global economic crisis on poor countries, which risks throwing millions more people into poverty, Amnesty International today called on governments to protect economic and social rights with as much vigour as civil and political rights.
Amnesty International welcomes the fact that on this very day the United Nations General Assembly will endorse the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and hopes that EU member states will be amongst the first to ratify this important instrument.
“The gift of the UDHR is universality and indivisibility. Human rights are universal – every person is born free and equal in rights and dignity. Human rights are indivisible – all rights, whether economic, social, civil, political or cultural – are equally important and there is no hierarchy of rights,” said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“The time has come for governments to deliver on their human rights commitments” she added.
*LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.