Nobel Prize: EU must build on achievements, tackle human rights shortfall
(Brussels, 10 December 2012) As the leaders of the three European Union institutions prepare jointly to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today, Amnesty International has recognised the EU’s contribution to peace in Europe over the past 55 years, but has warned that the past achievements which the prize acknowledges are under growing threat.
“The act of genius in turning swords into ploughshares was the foundation of Europe's most enduring peace project which has made respect for human rights and the rule of law the basis of membership,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.
“But EU leaders mustn’t bask in the glow of the prize. Xenophobia and intolerance are on the rise throughout Europe, and growing numbers of political leaders are promoting anti-Muslim, anti-Roma, anti-migrant, and anti-LGBTI messages and enjoying increasing popularity. Europeans are in danger of forgetting some hard-learnt lessons from their past about the importance of not relinquishing human rights and the rule of law which protect individuals from persecution.”
To protect the achievements which the award of the prize acknowledges, Amnesty International has called for the EU to ensure that the defence of human rights within its borders becomes central to its approach. A key element of this would be for the Union to establish a robust internal human rights mechanism without delay. The organisation points to widespread discrimination across Europe against people from ethnic, religious, sexual and gender minorities, the failure to uphold refugees’ and migrants’ rights, and serious discrimination against Roma people.
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