96

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Towards a mandatory EU system of due diligence for supply chains

22-10-2020

The growth of international supply chains has undoubtedly brought enormous benefits to developing countries, but at the same time it has had certain negative impacts, relating for instance to violations of human and labour rights, including forced labour and child labour, environmental damage, land grabbing, and corruption. Multinational companies have gained unprecedented power, creating asymmetries in relation to weak regulation and enforcement in developing countries. For several decades, multinational ...

The growth of international supply chains has undoubtedly brought enormous benefits to developing countries, but at the same time it has had certain negative impacts, relating for instance to violations of human and labour rights, including forced labour and child labour, environmental damage, land grabbing, and corruption. Multinational companies have gained unprecedented power, creating asymmetries in relation to weak regulation and enforcement in developing countries. For several decades, multinational companies have been encouraged to take responsibility for their supply chains on a voluntary basis. Whereas in some sectors, where violations have been most egregious, particularly in the extractive industries or in timber extraction, mandatory frameworks have already been adopted at EU level, for others it was hoped that the voluntary approach, guided by several international frameworks, would suffice. The evidence available, however, from academic research, civil society organisations, implementation of the EU Non-financial Reporting Directive, and studies commissioned by the EU institutions, has made it clear that the voluntary approach is not enough. Against this background, many voices consider that the EU should adopt mandatory due diligence legislation. Human rights and the environment stand out as two areas where such legislation would be both most needed and most effective. Beyond its expected intrinsic positive impact, such legislation would have important advantages, such as creating a level playing field among all companies operating on the EU market, bringing legal clarity, and establishing effective enforcement and sanction mechanisms, while possibly improving access to remedy for those affected, by establishing civil and legal liability for companies. The European Commission has undertaken some preliminary steps, including publishing a study and conducting public consultations, towards a possible legislative initiative on mandatory due diligence, but such an initiative has not been included in its 2021 work programme.

European Union involvement in the United Nations system: Broad partnership based on shared commitment to multilateralism

22-09-2020

Over the years, the EU has become a key player in the United Nations system. The UN remains an organisation of sovereign states, and this is reflected in the functioning of its bodies, agencies and programmes. The EU enjoys observer status in many of these and is the only international organisation to have secured enhanced observer status in the UN General Assembly. The EU leverages its influence through its significant financial contribution to the UN system, through its enhanced partnerships with ...

Over the years, the EU has become a key player in the United Nations system. The UN remains an organisation of sovereign states, and this is reflected in the functioning of its bodies, agencies and programmes. The EU enjoys observer status in many of these and is the only international organisation to have secured enhanced observer status in the UN General Assembly. The EU leverages its influence through its significant financial contribution to the UN system, through its enhanced partnerships with various entities within the UN system, and through close coordination with its Member States on positions to be defended in the organisation.

Impact of the pandemic on elections around the world: From safety concerns to political crises

17-07-2020

The coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on electoral processes around the world, with many elections being postponed because of emergency situations. Ideally, postponing elections should involve a sensible balancing act between the democratic imperative, enshrined in international law and national constitutions, to hold regular elections, and public health requirements restricting large gatherings and minimising close contact between people. While some countries have decided to go ahead with elections ...

The coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on electoral processes around the world, with many elections being postponed because of emergency situations. Ideally, postponing elections should involve a sensible balancing act between the democratic imperative, enshrined in international law and national constitutions, to hold regular elections, and public health requirements restricting large gatherings and minimising close contact between people. While some countries have decided to go ahead with elections, most countries with elections scheduled since the beginning of March have postponed them. Among those that have held elections during the pandemic, South Korea has emerged as a model for having organised a highly successful electoral process, while protecting the health of its population. Others, such as Burundi, have set a negative standard, ignoring health risks putting both population and politicians in peril. Postponing elections as part of the policy response to the crisis ideally requires a broad political consensus. However, rescheduling has proven divisive in many cases. Those in power have often been accused by the opposition and other critics of trying to reshape the calendar to their own advantage, either by lifting lockdowns too early to allow for the restart of the electoral process (such as in Serbia − the first European country to hold parliamentary elections after the crisis) or by prolonging transitional situations unnecessarily (such as in Bolivia, which has an interim president). The crisis provides a unique opportunity for electoral reform. Extending opportunities for early and remote voting has been seen as a way to reduce risk. However, much caution is needed, particularly as regards remote online voting, which involves either limitations of the right to voting secrecy or serious and still unmanageable cyber-risks.

2019 report on human rights and democracy

06-07-2020

Parliament's July plenary session is scheduled to feature a statement by Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union, and a debate on the recently published 'EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2019'. The report takes stock of all EU action in 2019 in support of democracy and human rights in the world. Parliament will subsequently respond with its own report issuing recommendations for the future.

Parliament's July plenary session is scheduled to feature a statement by Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union, and a debate on the recently published 'EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2019'. The report takes stock of all EU action in 2019 in support of democracy and human rights in the world. Parliament will subsequently respond with its own report issuing recommendations for the future.

Sakharov Prize laureates in difficulty: Facing repression for defending human rights

05-06-2020

The Sakharov Prize is awarded by the European Parliament each year for outstanding achievements in the service of human rights. Defending human rights in countries where they are most under pressure does however come with significant risks for defenders, who are often harassed, persecuted, and deprived of personal freedom. Since its beginning, the Prize has been awarded to human rights defenders, some of whom were behind bars, serving long prison sentences because of their fight, such as Nelson Mandela ...

The Sakharov Prize is awarded by the European Parliament each year for outstanding achievements in the service of human rights. Defending human rights in countries where they are most under pressure does however come with significant risks for defenders, who are often harassed, persecuted, and deprived of personal freedom. Since its beginning, the Prize has been awarded to human rights defenders, some of whom were behind bars, serving long prison sentences because of their fight, such as Nelson Mandela. This has not changed much today. Several Sakharov laureates of recent years were in jail when they were awarded the Prize and are still not free today. Others suffered new or additional prison terms because of their activity. The Sakharov Prize brings the cause and the fight of its laureates to world attention. On the occasion of awarding the Prize, Parliament, through the voice of its President, usually calls for jailed laureates to be released from prison. Parliament also uses all the means in its parliamentary diplomacy toolbox to protect from state repression those that it honours through the Prize. The steady follow-up by Parliament of the situation of Sakharov laureates and the urgency resolutions which mention those in difficulty regularly help to keep their struggle in the spotlight. EU diplomacy complements Parliament's efforts through statements, dialogues, and démarches, in line with the general EU policy on protecting human rights defenders. While such actions add to international pressure to secure the release of human rights defenders, they do not always succeed in moving repressive regimes. 2019 saw the liberation of Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian film-maker who received the Prize in 2018, from a Russian jail, but other countries such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and Venezuela have been relentless in their repression of Sakharov laureates, not giving in to EU calls for their liberation. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic puts jailed laureates at particular risk, but none of those in prison has benefited from the conditional release awarded on a large scale to common criminals, for example in Iran.

Coronavirus in Africa: A crisis with multiple impacts

07-05-2020

At the beginning of May, the number of Covid-19 cases in Africa was lower than in other regions of the world. North African countries and South Africa are the most affected by the pandemic. Limited testing capacity and Africa's young population are often mentioned as possible explanations for this overall low rate. The very early preventive measures adopted by most governments are also credited for slowing down the spread of the disease. Africa's medical systems are poorly equipped to handle a massive ...

At the beginning of May, the number of Covid-19 cases in Africa was lower than in other regions of the world. North African countries and South Africa are the most affected by the pandemic. Limited testing capacity and Africa's young population are often mentioned as possible explanations for this overall low rate. The very early preventive measures adopted by most governments are also credited for slowing down the spread of the disease. Africa's medical systems are poorly equipped to handle a massive epidemic, despite notable recent progress in preparedness for epidemics in general and increased testing capacity for the coronavirus. On the other hand, African economies have been severely hit by the pandemic. The drop in oil and other commodity prices, the disruption in global supply chains affecting African exporters, the drying up of external financial flows compounding an already difficult financial situation for many states, as well as the effects of confinement particularly on urban populations living off informal daily activities, are taking a heavy toll on the continent's economies. This creates a risk of social instability, with poorer people already facing food deprivation in urban slums. Long-term confinement and social distancing are simply impossible in many African settings. The pandemic has also affected the fragile democratic institutions of some African countries. Restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the postponement of elections can undermine recent democratic progress. Africa needs massive help to overcome these challenges. The international community has prepared various packages, including a debt moratorium to relieve the economic and financial burden. The European Union is refocusing the funds earmarked for Africa to fighting the pandemic. The consequences of the outbreak will profoundly reshape the discussions on a renewed Africa-EU partnership, and if correctly seized, might be the opportunity to strengthen this partnership.

COVID-19's impact on human rights outside the EU

03-04-2020

In their attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world have imposed limitations on freedom of movement and other related freedoms within their territories, thereby severely curtailing certain fundamental rights. In the event of a public emergency, international human rights norms do allow for the imposition of limitations under strict conditions. Moreover, so far no other approach has been as effective in slowing down the outbreak, while also upholding the right of the ...

In their attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world have imposed limitations on freedom of movement and other related freedoms within their territories, thereby severely curtailing certain fundamental rights. In the event of a public emergency, international human rights norms do allow for the imposition of limitations under strict conditions. Moreover, so far no other approach has been as effective in slowing down the outbreak, while also upholding the right of the most vulnerable to health and life. However, some governments may be abusing the situation to suppress human rights and wield undue power.

Religion and the EU's external policies: Increasing engagement

12-02-2020

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

Peace, justice and strong institutions: EU support for implementing SDG 16 worldwide

04-02-2020

The 16th sustainable development goal (SDG 16) to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels' represents a new milestone compared with the earlier millennium development goals. While several of its targets (such as peace, corruption-free institutions and freedom from violence) were once seen as prerequisites of sustainable development, the adoption of SDG 16 marked ...

The 16th sustainable development goal (SDG 16) to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels' represents a new milestone compared with the earlier millennium development goals. While several of its targets (such as peace, corruption-free institutions and freedom from violence) were once seen as prerequisites of sustainable development, the adoption of SDG 16 marked the first time that they were globally recognised as development objectives in themselves. To achieve universal recognition, SDG 16 leaves out explicit reference to internationally recognised political and civil rights norms, attracting some criticism. Its very general scope has also stirred controversy regarding the type of data required in order to assess progress rigorously. The state of play with regard to the implementation of SDG 16 indicates that substantial progress is still needed in order to achieve the SDG targets by 2030. Violent conflicts continue to affect many parts of the world, societal violence remains widespread in many countries and violence against children in particular remains a pervasive phenomenon, especially in developing countries. At the same time, fundamental freedoms have come under increased attack from regimes that disrespect human rights and undermine international and national norms in this area. The EU has committed to contributing to the achievement of all the SDGs, and the specific targets of SDG 16 have been given special recognition. From the Global Strategy to the 'new consensus on development', various policy documents acknowledge the crucial role of peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for sustainable development. The interconnection between the pursuit of these fundamental values and EU efforts to help developing countries achieve the SDGs is obvious in numerous measures undertaken in the framework of EU external action. The European Parliament is a strong champion for these values in the world.

Taking stock of EU human rights and democracy action: Annual report for 2018

09-01-2020

The annual report on human rights and democracy in the world is a comprehensive exercise that takes stock of all European Union (EU) actions in the human rights and democracy field. The report provides the European Parliament with an opportunity to recommend future EU action, considering current challenges, in its yearly resolution adopted in response to the EU report. The report for 2018 underlines that the EU should continue to play a leading role in tackling global democracy and human rights challenges ...

The annual report on human rights and democracy in the world is a comprehensive exercise that takes stock of all European Union (EU) actions in the human rights and democracy field. The report provides the European Parliament with an opportunity to recommend future EU action, considering current challenges, in its yearly resolution adopted in response to the EU report. The report for 2018 underlines that the EU should continue to play a leading role in tackling global democracy and human rights challenges, a view shared by the Parliament.

Kommande evenemang

26-10-2020
European Gender Equality Week - October 26-29, 2020
Övrigt -
FEMM TRAN LIBE BECA AIDA INTA CULT EMPL DROI SEDE
26-10-2020
Joint LIBE - FEMM Hearing on Trafficking in human beings
Utfrågning -
LIBE FEMM
26-10-2020
Joint LIBE - FEMM Hearing on Trafficking in human beings
Utfrågning -
FEMM

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