abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

16 Mar 2023

European Parliament

EU: European Parliament adopts report on implementation of EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders

"P9_TA(2023)0086 The EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2023 on the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (2021/2204(INI))", 16. March 2023

  1. Praises and thanks all human rights defenders for their courageous and crucial work in defence of human rights and the planet; acknowledges that they have to do their work under increasingly challenging and evolving circumstances and often at a heavy personal cost for them, their families and their communities;
  2. Welcomes the EU’s policy framework in support of HRDs, which has developed over the past two decades with the Guidelines at its core; underlines the significant impact of the Guidelines in increasing awareness and understanding of the role of HRDs as indispensable and central partners for the EU’s foreign, human rights and democracy support policy, and in focusing and enhancing efforts to prioritise and streamline the protection of HRDs across the EU’s external action;
  3. Highlights the invaluable front-line work in support of HRDs by a number of EU delegations and Member States’ missions in third countries, and the substantial and increasing financial support, including direct assistance, provided to HRDs by the Commission under the various instruments;
  4. Considers, however, that the overall application of the Guidelines by the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Commission and the Member States has been uneven, largely focusing on reactive measures, lacking a consistent overall implementation of the strategy and being characterised by insufficient visibility of EU action and channels of support for HRDs; believes that an HRD dimension has yet to be integrated into all EU external action in a systematic and consistent manner, including EU country, regional and thematic policy documents and at all relevant levels of EU diplomatic engagement and decision-making, up to the highest levels;
  5. Calls for the EU to further strengthen its HRD policy framework through continuous, concrete, consistent and effective action, in particular in its relations with authoritarian regimes and in places with which the EU and its Member States have association, trade, investment or cooperation agreements or where they have substantial commercial, energy, security, migratory or other interests; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that their financial support to HRDs is also matched by sustained EU political engagement with third countries;
  6. Calls for the Guidelines to refer to the EU global human rights sanctions regime and for systematic attacks on HRDs to lead to the listing of individuals and entities under this regime; reiterates its request to amend the current EU global human rights sanction regime by expanding its scope to include acts of corruption or alternatively for a legislative proposal to be put forward to adopt a new thematic regime against serious acts of corruption;[...]

33. Believes that, in the light of the large and growing number of threats and attacks faced by HRDs who raise concerns about the adverse human rights impacts of some business operations, the EU should coherently integrate the promotion and protection of the rights of HRDs, particularly trade union representatives and defenders of land, indigenous peoples’ rights and the environment, into its corporate sustainability due diligence directive and its trade, investment and cooperation agreements and instruments, such as the Generalised Scheme of Preferences; calls for the EU to make more consistent and greater use of clauses in trade and investment agreements that protect human rights, including those on closer monitoring and adequate enforcement of human rights commitments, and to fully utilise human rights conditionality to grant third countries preferential access to its market; considers, moreover, that systematic and widespread attacks against HRDs should lead to the triggering of these clauses or that of the overarching framework agreement with the given country, and in the event of a manifest failure of the national authorities to improve the situation, considers that the Commission should take appropriate measures, including those leading to the suspension of the relevant agreement. [...]

37. Calls on the Commission to ensure that risks of reprisals and retaliation and other risks concerning violations against HRDs working on business and labour issues are included in the risks identification and assessment phase of companies’ due diligence processes; calls on the Commission to ensure that companies systematically engage with HRDs and guarantee their safe participation; [...]