Monitoring human rights in the work of the European Union

Monitoring human rights in the work of the European Union

The European Union has a duty to promote its values when it works with other countries, institutions, or inter-governmental organisations. This includes promoting the respect of universal and indivisible fundamental rights.

Why is this a priority?

The European Union’s activities in the field of foreign affairs spans a wide range of activities. It includes bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, development aid, external action and emergency response. As a global actor, the European Union signs binding trade agreements, represents the single biggest Official Development Aid creditor when taken with its Member States, and leads meaningful political negotiations with third countries and global institutions.

These activities do not always take account of the human rights situation in third countries. This is why throughout the work of the Parliament, the Commission and the Council, the Intergroup on LGBT Rights seeks to hold these institutions to account on their commitment to promote fundamental rights.

In June 2010, the Council of the European Union’s Working Party on Human Rights adopted a Toolkit to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People, encouraging EU and Member State representations abroad to promote LGBT rights. The Intergroup regularly reminds foreign EU representations of the guidelines contained in the toolkit, and encourages their use.

What is the Intergroup doing?

The Intergroup watches developments in international institutions and the countries the European Union deals with, and raises awareness about the lack of respect of human rights, what this means for local communities, and how the European Union could positively affect the situation.

For instance, as the Commission initially signed a trade agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the Intergroup protested at the exclusion of a non-discrimination clause on grounds of sexual orientation (whilst other grounds were mentioned).

During the setting up of the European Union External Action Servce (EEAS), members of the Intergroup seek to ensure that the future service will take human rights seriously in its work.

The European Parliament also sends representatives to United Nations meetings, including to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. In these cases, we seek to influence the European Parliament’s resolution containing the representatives’ mandate to include LGBT rights in it, or we can help Parliament representatives meet with relevant non-governmental organisations at the events they attend.

The Intergroup also raises awareness about situation in third countries, for instance in Uganda or Indonesia.

Read more:

  • Summary of EU law on human rights in third countries
  • The Yogyakarta Principles on the applicability of human rights law to sexual orientation and gender identity