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On 13 May 2019, the Council adopted the EU annual report on human rights and democracy in the world for 2018.
The report noted that in 2018 the EU remained at the forefront of the protection and promotion of human rights in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. The EU engaged in activities across the globe in line with the objectives set out in the EU action plan on human rights and democracy (2015-2019). The Council recognised that in a volatile and unpredictable world, the Action Plan has been instrumental in taking forward the human rights agenda.
2018 was the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and during this year the EU continued to strongly support the promotion and protection of human rights at the heart of multilateralism - particularly important at a time when there have been serious negative trends in human rights and democracy around the world.
The year saw an increase in threats and violations against journalists and other media workers, further shrinking the space for free journalism. In line with the priorities of the Global Strategy for the EU’s foreign and security policy, the EU continued to firmly oppose any unjustified restrictions of the rights of freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.
The 2018 annual report also notes that this year was not only about human rights challenges and setbacks; there was also a positive change. In 2018, the EU acted to identify and support positive human rights narratives, building on the vision of a human rights-based 2030 Agenda. The EU-led ‘Good Human Rights Stories’ initiative launched at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) generated broad cross-regional resonance and aims to provide an effective vehicle for positive change in the future.