The European Council has adopted the text of the EU’s annual report on human rights and democracy around the world.
The EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2018, adopted by the council yesterday, states that the EU has remained a world leader in the preservation of fundamental human rights. It drew particular attention to the EU’s 2015-19 Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, noting that the bloc was able both to implement action protecting human rights and support efforts in other countries to preserve the rights of their citizens.
The report detailed an array of challenges to human rights and democracy worldwide, highlighting a substantive increase in threats and attacks directed at journalists and other media workers; and quoted the 2018 edition of Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index as saying: “Hostility towards the media is openly encouraged by political leaders, and the efforts of authoritarian regimes to export their vision of journalism pose a threat to democracies.” According to the index Europe is still the world region with the highest levels of press freedom, but it experienced its worst drop between 2017 and 2018.
In 2018, the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU was found to have had a largely positive effect on human rights and democracy; working to enact positive change and support multilateral efforts to implement its human rights action plan.
The report says: “This year was not only about human rights challenges and setbacks; there was also positive change. For instance, the EU joined forces with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – for the first time ever – to pass a resolution in the Human Rights Council to establish an international accountability mechanism on Myanmar/Burma. In 2018, the EU acted to identify and support positive human rights narratives, building on the vision of a human rights-based 2030 Agenda. The EU-led ‘Good Human Rights Stories’ initiative launched at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) generated broad cross-regional resonance and aims to provide an effective vehicle for positive change in the future.”