Focus onHuman rights

The respect for human rights is one of the European Union's fundamental values. One of the ways in which the EU supports human rights is through the European Parliament's annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, established in 1988.  The prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe. Find out who was awarded the prize in 2016 and discover some more publications on this subject.

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The Book of Sakharov Prize Laureates

Edition 2016

Awarded for the first time in 1988 to Nelson Mandela and Anatoli Marchenko, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is the highest tribute paid to human rights work by the European Union. It gives recognition to individuals, groups and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to protecting freedom of thought.

Available in all the official languages of the EU

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Summaries of EU Legislation

Summaries of EU Legislation

Human rights

The Summaries of EU Legislation present information on the main aspects of EU legislation, policies and activities in a clear, easy-to-read and concise way. They are intended for a general, non-specialised audience and cover 32 topics corresponding to the activities of the European Union. This chapter provides an overview of the main EU instruments, policies and activities in the area of human rights.

Available in all the official languages of the EU

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EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy

2015-2019

With the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, the EU aims to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are a constant focus of all EU policies: the actions put in place range from the fight against gender-based violence to making sure that the EU’s trade agreements incorporate the highest human rights standards. This brochure contains the plan and the related documents, as well as a foreword by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Available in English and French

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EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2015

Addressing human rights and democracy challenges

This annual report is a unique public source of information and analysis for observers of the EU’s external policies on human rights. It is structured around the main thematic areas of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy. It aims to provide an overall picture of EU human rights activities in 2015, but also to be more analytical and focused on the areas in which EU action was particularly prominent.

Available in English, French and Spanish

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The Frozen Conflicts of the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood and Their Impact on the Respect of Human Rights

A study

This study provides a detailed overview of the human rights situation in the frozen conflict regions of EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, namely in Crimea, Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The focus of the analysis is on the access to the justice system, as well as on the abilities of the authorities to administer justice. Particular attention is paid to Crimea because the rapidly worsening human rights situation there affects far more people than the population of the other four frozen conflicts combined. International community actions, as well as the role of civil society in protecting human rights are also analysed.

Available in English

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EU Support for the Fight against Torture and the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Special report

The EU is strongly committed to preventing and eradicating all forms of torture and other ill-treatment as well as to abolishing the death penalty throughout the world. In this report the European Court of Auditors evaluates the effectiveness of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, which provides grants to civil society organisations for implementing projects that pursue these objectives.

Available in all the official languages of the EU except Irish

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A Comparative Study of EU Approaches to Human Rights in External Relations

Practices, opportunities and challenges

Both the European Union and the United States emphasise the centrality of human rights in their domestic and external policies. However, despite their common attachment to human rights and a potential affinity of seemingly common transatlantic approaches to human rights issues in external policies, the EU and the US have diverged considerably in their respective promotion of human rights abroad. This study outlines these differences and concludes with a set of tailor-made recommendations which aim to foster the continuous effort of integrating and mainstreaming human rights into all aspects of EU external action.

Available in English

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Land Grabbing and Human Rights

The involvement of European corporate and financial entities in land grabbing outside the European Union

This study offers both quantitative and qualitative data illustrating the involvement of EU-based corporate and financial entities in land deals occurring outside of the EU. It also analyses the global land rush within a human rights framework, examining the implications of particular land deals involving EU-based investors and their impact on communities living in areas where the investments are taking place. In the conclusions, there is a series of recommendations on how the EU can more effectively address these issues.

Available in English and French

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