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Ideas for a fairer world

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FPC Briefing: The EU on human rights- Turning words into action

By Jacqueline Hale.

In this new FPC Briefing by Senior Research Associate Jacqueline Hale examines the EU's record on promoting human rights, democracy, the rule of law and international justice through its external actions following the launch of its global human rights policy in 2012. Following the failures of the Arab Spring, a troubled neighbourhood policy, deepening tensions with Russia, a 'migration crisis', rising xenophobia and efforts to undermine human rights by member states' governments ranging from Hungary to the UK Hale explores the more challenging context into which the EU's human rights policy has been revised in 2015. She argues that despite its roots as a peace project and community of rules and norms, in practice the EU has consistently underperformed on human rights, and its own values project is frequently undermined amid growing internal and external challenges. The briefing examines whether the EU will be able to learn the lessons of past failures, and address the growing gap between rousing words on paper and lack of political will to act on the rhetoric. It examines the 2015-19 human rights action plan in light of the EU's mixed record so far and argues that this time round, the EU has every interest in producing a human rights policy with teeth.

Download FPC Briefing: The EU on human rights- words into action (360 kilobyte PDF)