The European Union has reiterated its commitment to support human rights and democracy especially during this pandemic.
The EU’s mantra has always been to ensure that no one is left behind and no human right is ignored. And the EU family in the Philippines showcases this message in celebration of the Human Rights Day.
Mr Thomas Wiersing Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation to the Philippines announced that together with the EU member states’ embassies, the EU Delegation will mark the Human Rights Day with different events addressing a wide variety of challenges and highlighting that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.
The year 2020 is also a special year in the EU work on human rights. The Third EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2020-2024) was adopted on 19 November, providing for a renewed political roadmap that sets the priorities for positioning the EU as a geostrategic and credible global actor seeking to defend EU values and interests. Another milestone is the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime that is expected to be adopted on 7 December by the Council of the EU. This regime sends a strong political message as the EU will be able to stand up for human rights ever more forcefully.
Considering the issue of disinformation worldwide, the EU Delegation is holding its webinar on “Countering Infodemic against this Pandemic” on 14 December from 4 to 6pm with Pulitzer Prize Winner Manny Mogato and Christian Esguerra who is both an academician and a journalist. They will be joined by Mr Michael Meyer-Resende, co-founder and executive director of an international NGO, Democracy Reporting International. Mr Meyer-Resende has been working in international relations, diplomacy, media and democracy support for more than 20 years. A lawyer, he regularly publishes reports and media pieces on democracy, rule of law, disinformation and other themes. Moderating the webinar is Joyce Panares, Editor of Manila Standard Today.
Together with the EU Member states, the Philippine-Italian Association, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Cinemalaya, Gawad Alternatibo, the Commission on Human Rights, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, and other local filmmakers, the EU Delegation shall screen films focusing on human rights. These films from Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and the Philippines are available on vimeo.com/ondemand/tobehuman (promo code HUMAN) from 4 to 13 December. The film festival is dubbed “To be human: A Human Rights Film Screening Special”.
On 7 December, the Embassy of Germany leads a discussion on responsible business conduct and the importance of respecting and implementing human rights across the supply chain.
The Embassy of Sweden puts the youth on the spotlight with its “Democracy Talks in Manila - The Role of Youth Voices in Democracy” on 8 December. The Embassy and the Women Inter Industry Network and supported by the Swedish Institute through the Swedish Alumni Network Philippines, will host "Women X Crisis: the online forum" on 15 December. An open conversation about the experiences of Filipino working women in the roles they play at home, in the office and wherever they choose to take space.
The Embassy of Netherlands emphasies the need for a free and independent and safe media with its panel discussion on “Journalists without Fear” from 9 to 10 December to be followed by a session on “Human Trafficking and Online Exploitation of Children - The Manila Dialogue” from 11 to 12 December.
Meanwhile, the Austrian Embassy holds the awarding ceremony for its Leadership Excellence Award for Girls on 12 December.
Background: EU Human Rights Strategy in the Philippines and EU Action Plan on Human Rights
In the Philippines, the European Union has spelled out its human rights country strategy by focusing on: fighting impunity and promoting rule of law; prevention and eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, including death penalty; supporting an evidence-based approach to the fight against illegal drugs; supporting human rights defenders and journalists and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, internally displaced people, women and children and the fight against human trafficking.
The Council of the EU just approved the Third EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024. (Further info: https://europa.eu/!Fv67hP). The Plan sets out the EU's level of ambition and priorities in this field in its relations with all third countries.
While there have been leaps forward, there has also been a pushback against the universality and indivisibility of human rights. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences have had an increasingly negative impact on all human rights, democracy and rule of law, deepening pre-existing inequalities and increasing pressure on persons in vulnerable situations.
The new Action Plan for 2020-2024 focuses on long-standing priorities such as supporting human rights defenders and the fight against the death penalty. To this end, the EU and its member states will use the full range of their instruments, in all areas of external action, to focus on and further strengthen EU's global leadership in the field of human rights and democracy and in the implementation of the EU Action Plan.