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.
On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the European Union commends the work of journalists in uncovering abuses of power, shining a light on corruption and human right violations, and questioning received opinion, often putting themselves at risk of intimidation, violence and death. An independent and free media is the basis of a participatory and pluralist democracy, and a tool to make governments accountable for their actions.
The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity. It constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect and allows judicial errors to become irreversible and fatal.