A European Parliament for human rights
We want a Europe where human rights are respected. Where human rights are at the forefront of EU policies at home and abroad.
This means that governments, institutions and elected representatives, as “duty-bearers”, need these to respect the core of principles and obligations of European law and international treaties and to fulfill their responsibilities in the area of human rights.
But the path towards this goal starts with YOU.
How can you ensure EU representative fulfill their responsibilities if you do not know what your rights are?!
Learn your rights before the elections!
It is not just about voting: who you vote for does make a difference. Here are a couple of issues and ideas you should look for if you want your representative in the EU to work for a human rights friendly world.
- Do MEP candidates know that they are duty bearers and have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights?
In December 2010 the European Parliament adopted by 585 votes to 40, with 51 abstentions, a Resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) – effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The analysis of votes shows major support coming from left wing parties (Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA)) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) while the other right-wing parties votes mostly against or abstained (with the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) Group voting most against and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group abstaining most). The United Kingdom was definitively the country with most MEPs against or abstaining.
In this context, the EFD Group – a group of right-wing national parties – proposed two amendments aiming at eliminating the call for implementation of the Stockholm Programme, which is a five-year plan (2010-2014) with guidelines for a common policy for the protection of fundamental rights, privacy, minority rights and rights of groups of people in need of special protection (AM3 §13 and AM4 §24). The votes can be found here.
In November 2012 the EU Parliament approved a Resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2010 – 2011). Even if it contains the core principles of the human rights based approach in EU policies, it has been adopted with a small 53% majority of votes, while 39% was against and 8% abstained.
The analysis of votes shows clearly a division between right-wing parties, which voted against or in abstention (particularly European People’s Party (EPP), ECR Group and the EFD Group), and the left-wing parties, which strongly and almost unanimously supported the motion (S&D, the Greens/EFA and the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)). See how MEPs voted here.
One year later the European Parliament voted on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Year of Development (2015). The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality proposed to incorporate some text clearly illustrating that respect for human rights is a duty and not an option. The legislative text adopted was the result of a great deal of hard work on raising awareness; nevertheless there were 8% against and a 6% abstention. The ECR Group was the first against, represented by 22 members of a total of 57, all from the United Kingdom. See here how MEPs voted.
- Does the MEP publicly support or ignore the issue of human rights protection as a cross-cutting issue?
In December 2010 the European Parliament approved a Resolution on implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid: the mid-term review of its action plan and the way forward. The left-wing parties supported unanimously the motion while the party who definitively voted against has been the EFD party. Italy and the United Kingdom were most opposed. If you have a look at the section “explanation of votes” you can see what MEPs think about considering aid policies as a matter connected to civil rights and not only as humanitarian and emergency aid. The voting behavior and motivations can be found here.
Before the approval of the above mentioned Resolution on the effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (December 2010), GUE/NGL proposed amendments exemplifying the good practice of linking external aid policies and the respect of democracy principles.
- Do MEPs promote children and minorities and aim at eradicating discriminations?
Amendment 20 to the aforementioned motion on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2010 – 2011) proposed by GUE/NGL gives special attention to children and minorities and include specific reference to the principle of equality in dignity and rights of every individual enshrined notably in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In December 2010 the European Parliament adopted the resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) – effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, GUE/NGL proposed similarly good amendments (AM 6 §12a (new) and AM15 §50 indent 11b (new))
Click here see how different groups and MEPs from each EU country voted.
- Will MEPs allocate enough resources (financial, technical, human) to fulfil their obligations arising from International Human Rights Treaties?
Another proposed amendment for the Resolution on the effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (December 2010) tabled by GUE/NGL deplores the fact that fundamental social rights are increasingly being jeopardized as a result of pressure from budgetary restrictions and calls on the EU institutions to adopt a social non-regression clause prohibiting the enactment of regressive provisions vis-à-vis the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and international conventions on social rights. (AM5 §12 (new))
Our vision: A human rights conducive Europe
Find out other issues voted by MEPs on http://www.votewatch.eu
For the record…this is what the EU treaty says on human rights:
“The Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples. […]shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice […]shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.” as per the European Union Treaties. Moreover, “In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and contribute to the protection if its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter”.