The EU and its southern neighbours: normative leadership or realpolitik?

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This event is a high-level roundtable.

With the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Samir Kassir Foundation recently published its ‘International Aid to Lebanon’s Security and Justice Sectors – The Impact of Donor Assistance on Human Rights and Civil Liberties’ study. It examines the gap between Western donor assistance to Lebanon’s judiciary, security and military institutions, which prioritises the promotion of respect for human rights and civil liberties, and the increase in violations by these exact same criminal justice institutions. The study explores the challenges that come with providing support focused on advancing human rights and civil liberties in a context that is shaken by multi-layered crises.

Using this report as an inception point for a wider debate, this high-level roundtable, organised by Friends of Europe and the Samir Kassir Foundation, will discuss the European Union’s foreign assistance strategy. On the one hand, the EU invests in human rights programmes and presents itself as a normative leader. Yet on the other hand, the EU itself as well as its member states often turn a blind eye to some of the most egregious violations of human rights perpetrated by authoritarian partner governments. How can these contradicting tendencies be squared?

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PHOTO CREDIT: Samir Kassir Foundation



The European Union and its southern neighbours: normative leadership or realpolitik?
Expand The European Union and its southern neighbours: normative leadership or realpolitik?
  • Is there a logical and realistic balance to be sought between the two imperatives of human rights and human security?
  • Is there any proper oversight of or follow-up on the programmes that the EU supports? If and how can government agencies in partner countries be held accountable if they fail to uphold the standards set for an EU-supported programme?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the different bodies and institutions of the EU involved in the monitoring of those programmes?
  • How should organisations based in partner countries engage the EU on matters of human rights?
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