Putting human rights into practice: Memorandum to the Belgian EU Presidency

Amnesty International, in a comprehensive analysis of the European Union’s human rights policies, calls on the Belgian EU Presidency to make human rights an explicit priority saying the gap between policy and practice is still too wide.

Amnesty International’s Memorandum to the Belgian Presidency provides a clear, concise overview of the EU’s recent human rights policy statements and makes concrete recommendations about what has to be done to ensure that the policy is translated into practice.

“Putting human rights at the heart of EU policies is one thing, putting them into practice is quite another,” said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office in Brussels. “The European Union must give new weight to the relevance of human rights in the balance of competing and conflicting interests.”

The wide-ranging Memorandum lists the main weaknesses in the EU system:

  • The lack of coherence and consistency in human rights policies between the Commission and the Council of Ministers;
  • The lack of political will to give more substance to the human rights clauses in trade and association agreements;
  • The absence so far of a clear human rights profile in the function of the High Representative for CFSP;
  • Fundamental question marks over the integrity of the EU’s human rights aspirations in relation to asylum;
  • The lack of capacity and human rights expertise across all EU institutions;
  • The lack of concrete action to address acknowledged human rights problems within EU borders.

In particular, the Memorandum states…

On the human rights clause: “The Belgian Presidency must ensure that the human rights clause inserted in all agreements with third countries develops from a dead letter to a constructive and dynamic instrument to strengthen respect for human rights.”

On Asylum: “Amnesty International calls for a proper human rights perspective to be re-established in the asylum debate. Full compliance with international human rights and refugee law must be ensured.”

The full text of the Memorandum to the Belgian Presidency is attached.

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499
Fax: 32-2-5025686
Email: [email protected]