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In 2018 the European Union (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). In a volatile and unpredictable world, the Action Plan has been instrumental in moving forward the human rights agenda.
In this 70th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the EU strongly supported the promotion and protection of human rights at the heart of multilateralism - particularly important at a time which has seen 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 European Union’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.
This year was not only about human rights challenges and setbacks; there was also positive change. For instance, the EU joined forces with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – for the first time ever – to pass a resolution in the Human Rights Council to establish an international accountability mechanism on Myanmar/Burma. 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.
This report provides a snapshot of the EU’s engagement and actions to promote and protect human rights across the globe in 2018. The report focuses on thematic issues using country-specific examples and aims to be useful for all interlocutors.
1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation:
Please refer to EU 2019 Enlargement Package Country Report for Kosovo here https://bit.ly/2KckkwX.
2. EU action - key focus areas / bilateral political engagement: The EU continues to closely monitor the respect for human rights. There is a regular policy dialogue on both technical and political levels, notably in the context of the Justice, Freedom and Security subcommittee under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, regular peer reviews, EU-funded projects, and engagement with international organisations and civil society.
3. EU financial engagement: Financial support is provided under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Under IPA, by December 2018, the EU-Community Stabilisation Programme phase III completed 260 projects (198 individual family businesses and 62 community development projects amounting to EUR 1.4 million) creating and/or securing over 570 jobs and indirectly affecting around 75 000 inhabitants in the disadvantaged minority areas.
The IPA Civil Society Facility and Media Programme supported two coalitions of civil society organisations (CSOs): for the promotion of fundamental rights of vulnerable and marginalised groups (EUR 900 000) and to promote employability of vulnerable groups in Kosovo and their inclusiveness in education and employment (EUR 900 000). Independent journalism with a focus on human rights was strengthened through a grant scheme 10 dedicated to activists and journalists. Under the same instrument, three operating grants contributed to protect and promote the rights of LGBTI persons.
The EU is also providing regional financial support to Kosovo through the EU-Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey on prison reform, the introduction of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) tools in the judiciary, as well as on education (anti-discrimination and anti-corruption, EUR 700 000). A new component on human rights and police was added to the Facility to follow up on recommendations from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).
Eight EIDHR projects awarded to local CSOs in 2016 (overall amount EUR 1,7 million) continued to support the work of the Ombudsperson Institution, promote political participation and economic rights of women, protect the rights of the child and victims of violence and/or discrimination.
4. Multilateral context: Kosovo continued its dialogue and cooperation with international human rights organisations and monitoring bodies, in particular with the Council of Europe.