On this day, 10 December, the world commemorates the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.
As we do every year, the EU Members would once again like to underline our unflinching commitment to the respect and global promotion of Human Rights, as a core element of our DNA. Our clear stand against capital punishment, our defence of good governance, social and political rights, our firmest condemnation of torture or any kind of abuse against any human being is an indelible signal of our identity, and remain at the forefront of EU action worldwide.
We have to agree however that the global picture in relation to human rights and democracy is mixed: while there have been great leaps forward, the pushback against the universality and indivisibility of human rights and backsliding on democracy must be addressed. New technologies present both opportunities and threats. At the same time, human rights are increasingly intertwined with global environmental challenges, such as climate change.
It was in this context that the EU also adopted a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024. This Plan has five overarching priorities: (1) protecting and empowering individuals; (2) building resilient, inclusive and democratic societies; (3) promoting a global system for human rights and democracy; (4) new technologies: harnessing opportunities and addressing challenges; and (5) delivering by working together.
To cap it all, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world and is shaking the foundations of our societies. It started as a medical emergency but then turned also into an economic crisis. Now it puts at risk decades of social achievements and internationally established principles, to the detriment of all, hitting harder on the most vulnerable. We see worrying trends in many countries: censorship, discrimination and arbitrary detention that should have no place in the fight against COVID-19. Human rights violations hinder, rather than facilitate, responses to public health emergencies, and undercut their efficiency.
In this context, the EU is particularly proud of its “New Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in External Action 2021–2025 (GAP III)”, which was launched recently, puts gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the heart of the EU's external action. GAP III aims, among its other objectives, to ensure that by 2025, gender equality and women’s empowerment will be incorporated into 85 percent of all EU funded projects and programmes around the world.
Not only in the age of Covid-19, but also in the years ahead, we must all work together to address the challenges to human rights in this changing world. The EU, founded on the values of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, will continue its leadership role to advance human rights through its programmes and policies and working together with the United Nations and partners around the world.
Human rights are a matter of policy, intervention and practice. The more human rights, including economic rights, are respected, the more societies are resilient.
H.E. Ambassador Mr. Javier María Carbajosa Sánchez, Embassy of Spain
H.E. Ambassador Mr. Serge Lavroff, Embassy of the Republic of France
H.E. Ambassador Mrs. Ute König, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
H.E. Ambassador Mr. Raphaël Varga van Kibéd, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Mr. Sanjin Soldatić, Delegation of the European Union