Hautala calls for EU High Representative to Ensure Strong EU Human Rights Policy

Heidi Hautala calls for Catherine Ashton, Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to ensure that the new European External Action Service have effective human rights structure.[:]


In the hearing of the Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold an exchange of views with Baroness Ashton, on 27 October, Ms Hautala underlined the pressing need of the EU to be able to promote human rights in the world. Hautala stressed the importance of Baroness Ashton having a “roadmap” on the strategic partnerships vis à vis human rights, as one seems to be missing for the moment. She noted that looking at the human rights policies of the Union towards China, one cannot help but feel that EU is perplexed. Inevitably this creates an impression that EU does not really know where it is going with this strategic partnership. For example, she noted, it is of particular concern that two days before the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese democracy and human rights proponent, Mr Liu Xiaobo, the joint statement from the EU-China Summit agenda, held on 6th of October, failed to mention human rights at all.


To urge Baroness Ashton to ensure that the new European External Action Service be able to achieve a coherent and efficient human rights policy, Chairwoman Hautala sent her on 27 October the following letter;




Dear Baroness Ashton,


I would like to take this opportunity to raise the issue of human rights structure within the EEAS now that the basic negotiations with Parliament have come to a close and presumably the implementation of the new organigramme nears.

I understand that you have not yet made any final conclusive decision as to the structure.

I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to highlight the agreement made on 8th of June on the statement to be made by yourself to the European Parliament to the effect that that there will be human rights and democracy structure at headquarters level as well as focal points in all relevant Union delegations with the task of monitoring the human rights situation and promoting an effective realisation of EU human rights policy goals. It was also agreed that you will promote the mainstreaming of human rights into external policies throughout the EEAS.

I also recall a statement you made at the European Parliament plenary on 16th of June to the effect that the new Service should help to ensure that human rights issues are reflected in all areas of our external action, including CSDP, development and trade.

All these commitments were widely welcomed by members of the sub-committee on Human Rights.

Bearing all this in mind, I strongly appeal to you to ensure that in line with your commitments a truly effective human rights structure be put in place in the new Service. This would demand that a specifically designated human rights officer, with the relevant experience and qualifications be appointed in each of the geographical units and that effective mainstreaming be ensured via specific Directorate General for human rights. Without a distinct human rights Directorate General in the new Service charged with ensuring comprehensive EU strategy on human rights at national, regional and global level and genuine mainstreaming of human rights, I fear no coherent and effective human rights policy can be achieved in the EEAS.

As you noted in your speech on 16th of June, the promise of the Lisbon Treaty is a more coherent, more consistent and hence more effective EU foreign policy. This is also a chance for all of us in all the institutions to upgrade the impact of our common efforts to defend and enhance democracy and human rights.


Should you so wish, I would be happy to discuss this with your further at your convenience.


Heidi Hautala