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Around the world, NGOs, civil society and human rights defenders protect and promote human rights, democracy, as well as sustainable and inclusive development every day. They often do this unnoticed, far from the limelight and, at times, at great personal risk.

On World NGO Day, we pay tribute to their engagement, the impact of which should not be underestimated or taken for granted.

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Before I start, let me make a short point on the sad news that reached us during the [Foreign Affairs] Council: the attack on the World Food Programme convoy in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

21/02/2021 – HR/VP blog – The G5 Sahel summit and the Pau+1 summit, bringing together the G5 Sahel countries and their international partners, took place on 15 and 16 February. It is clear that the military victories achieved so far will have lasting effects only if the state’s sovereign functions are restored and basic state services are delivered once more.

17/02/2021 – HR/VP Blog – Why do we need to invest in multilateralism? Because it works. Today we have set out what the EU can do to strengthen and modernise the global system of rules and institutions on which we all depend.

Our times are marked by major geopolitical and economic power shifts, with increasingly confrontational and unilateralist relations between major powers. Yet growing global challenges call for more multilateral governance and rules-based international cooperation. The COVID-19 crisis exemplifies the need for multilateral solutions: a major global threat, it has created much-needed momentum for a coordinated, global crisis response and has exposed the need to make multilateralism fit  to cope with the new challenges

On 11 February, China banned the BBC from broadcasting in the country, in connection with its reporting about Xinjiang and about the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the latest move by China restricting freedom of expression and access to information inside its borders, following on from numerous expulsions of foreign journalists in 2020. The EU has also repeatedly spoken out on cases of intimidation and surveillance of journalists and media workers in China.

“Children have a key role to play in building a present and a future where peace will prevail. It is our responsibility to enable them to be such agents of change”, says EU-UN statement on International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers

Joint statement by EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba on the occasion of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers

In some parts of the world, girls under 18 are circumcised and assumed ready for marriage. Ester recalls that she was very excited and agreed to this “BUT when the day came and already cut, oh God I was like half dead,” she cried. Female genital mutilation is a crime and a violation of human rights. It cannot be justified as a cultural or traditional practice. The practice has been around for more than a thousand years, and continues to persist until this very day, further impacted by the shadow pandemic, disrupting efforts for its elimination. But change is possible, and it is happening.

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