Ahead of the 14th European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism on 11 March 2018, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Vera Jourová and Julian King have issued the following statement:
Equality between women and men is one of the fundamental values of the European Union enshrined in our treaties. Our Union is a pioneer in tackling gender-based discrimination and we can be proud of the progress achieved: Europe is one of the safest and most equal places for women in the world.
From 26 February to 23 March 2018 the international community will gather in Geneva at the Human Rights Council (HRC) to discuss the world's most pressing human rights issues. "In a year, where we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU reaffirms its strong support for the work of the UN human rights system," says Ambassador Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. "The Declaration is as valid as it was at the time of its adoption and sadly, we are far from the full respect of these commitments all over the world. Rights and freedoms are still being challenged and the space for civil society is shrinking in many countries throughout the world," he adds. Therefore, the EU will give strong priority to promoting and defending the universality of human rights and to raising the profile of human rights throughout the year.
In 1948, after the devastating Second World War, which brought painful divisions in Europe and occupation for many European countries, the international community committed to define, promote and protect human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we celebrate on 10 December has enshrined these shared principles and has had a profound influence on the development of the world. But still, almost seventy years on, we are far from the full respect of these commitments all over the world, and we recognize that all states must do more in this respect.
25 November marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, one of the most devastating human rights violations against women and girls around the world. Empowerment of women and girls requires vigorous efforts to bring significant changes in their lives. To this end the European Union and the United Nations have embarked on the Spotlight Initiative, a ray of light in this ongoing fight. On the International Day, the EU institutions are lit up in orange as part of the UNiTE campaign, to symbolize a brighter future without violence.