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Press Releases, 6/26/2012

A new human rights strategy for the European Union

Press Release 156/2012
26 June 2012

The EU Foreign Ministers on 25 June adopted a Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy that will guide the human rights policy of the European Union in the coming years.

According to Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, the strategy aims to sharpen the EU’s human rights activities especially in bilateral relations and international organisations.

“The decision on a human rights strategy for the European Union is a highly important step forward. The actual work, however, is still ahead of us in order to raise human rights as a cross-cutting theme of the EU’s external action,” Foreign Minister Tuomioja stated.

The Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy includes a political declaration as well as an Action Plan for putting the strategy into practice. In addition, an EU Special Representative on Human Rights will be appointed, which will give a face to the EU’s human rights work. The Special Representative’s activities will support EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in implementing the priorities of the European Union’s human rights policy.

Finland has actively participated in the development of the EU human rights policy and in the compilation of the documents contained in the strategy.

“We consider the human rights strategy to be a key instrument for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the EU’s human rights policy,” Foreign Minister Tuomioja said.

One of the central underpinning ideas has been commitment of the EU Member States and institutions to the same human rights principles and objectives. A further objective is to promote consideration for human rights perspectives in all EU external action.

During negotiations Finland stressed in particular the rights of vulnerable groups and the importance of transparency as well as the important role of civil society in the practical realisation of human rights activities.

The implementation of the strategy will begin immediately. The intention is to put the objectives contained in the Action Plan into effect by the end of 2014.

Additional information: Erik Lundberg, Head of the Unit for Human Rights Policy, mobile tel. +358 40 352 0955

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Updated 6/26/2012

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