Human Rights Dialogue

EU-China Human Rights Dialogue

The EU is committed to the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms all over the world. The EU regards human rights as a vital issue for the long-term social and political stability of any country.

Supporting China's transition to an open society based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights is central to EU-China relations. The EU is committed to promote human rights in China in an active, sustained and constructive way.

Constructive dialogue remains the Union's preferred channel for working to improve the human rights situation in China. Human rights are mainly discussed between the EU and China in the framework of both their political dialogue as well as a specific Human Rights Dialogue. This dialogue was set up in 1995. Two rounds of the dialogue take place every year, one under each EU Presidency. It allows the EU to channel all issues of concern (such as the death penalty, re-education through labour, ethnic minorities' rights, civil and political freedoms etc.) in a forum where China is committed to responding. The dialogue, together with pressure from other international partners, has contributed to yield some concrete results (visits to China by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, signing of the UN Covenanton Civil and Political Rights, signing and ratification of the UN Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, release of prisoners, setting up of Commission co-operation projects etc.) but the EU has made it clear on several occasions that it wanted the dialogue to achieve more tangible improvements in the human rights situation on the ground. Nothing will demonstrate that non-confrontational dialogue produces results more effectively than China's own concrete actions.

The European Commission, which takes part in the Human Rights Dialogue as a member of the EU Troika, is committed to use its co-operation programme to promote human rights in China. For instance, the European Commission supports Human Rights Seminars for European and Chinese experts to exchange views and experiences. The activities carried out in recent years include the EU-China Legal and Judicial Co-operation Programme, by far the most important foreign assistance project of its kind in China, which supported the strengthening of the rule of law in China. Other projects aimed at empowering citizens with civil rights at the grass-roots level, such as the EU-China Village Governance Programme, and at promoting social and economic rights, notably in Yunnan province. Currently, the European Commission implements an initiative on Governance for Equitable Development with the UNDP. The project aims at strengthening the rule of law and the participation of civil society in China. The programme will promote participatory and inclusive approaches to selected legislative, judicial and governmental processes.

The fight against torture and all other forms of ill-treatment is a particular priority of the EU's human rights policy.

The EU uses all its available tools of diplomacy and cooperation assistance to eradicate torture worldwide. The EU is a leading source of financial support to the efforts by civil society organizations around the world to prevent torture and to provide assistance to victims of torture .

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