EU efforts to promote human rights will focus increasingly on support for local actors including national human rights institutions in third countries, said Silvio Gonzato, Director of Human Rights and Democracy in the European External Action Service (EEAS).
“Partner countries no longer accept us coming in and patronising them,” Gonzato told a Friends of Europe Policy Insight on 26 May.
He was speaking a month after the European Commission and the External Action Service proposed a new Joint Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy which acknowledges that universal standards are being challenged and that EU efforts to promote them are meeting growing resistance.
The Action Plan focuses, among other things, on strengthening judiciaries and regional organisations. But Justice Augustino S.L. Ramadhani, President of the Tanzania-based African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights said such bodies did not always have the support of national governments.
“The main problem is political will,” he said, adding that another issue is access – which requires that people know that the court exists, and have the means to be able to use it. “People should know that there is a court that they can go to – and access also presupposes the ability of them to come to court.”
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established in 2006 to make judgements on African Union countries’ human rights compliance, but so far only 28 of the Union’s 54 members have ratified its founding protocol. Of these 28, just seven allow individuals and non-government organisations to bring cases to the Court directly.
Head of Program, Support to the African Governance Architecture programme, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Ethiopia
Director, Human Rights and Democracy, European External Action Service (EEAS)
Justice Augustino S.L. Ramadhani
President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Tanzania
Head of Unit Governance, Democracy, Gender, Human Rights, European Commission
Managing Director at New Horizons Project
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