Thursday, 28 May 2015

“Keeping Human Rights at the heart of the EU agenda!” DARE network recommendations on the EU Action plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019)

The DARE network highly welcomes the joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council on the action plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2015-2019 "Keeping Human Rights at the Heart of the EU Agenda" (JOIN 2015) 16 final).
The DARE network acknowledges the achievements of the 2012 - 2014 Action Plan and underlines the importance of a sound continuation forward.
In a rapidly changing global environment the fundamental role of Human Rights and a coherent HR agenda in the EU´s external policies remains an utmost important dimension of the EU work and should be upheld high.
Regards to the discussion on the implementation of the Post 2015 SDG we share the view that the EU external policies should emphasize on Human rights and women´s rights as self-standing goals, reflecting their importance for development of stable democratic societies. We want to add that for the development of democratic societies the aim to respect Children rights and the rights of persons with disabilities should be included as they are the momentum to make a change in society. (ref: JOIN (2015) 16 final p 2).

Keeping human rights at the heart of the EU´s external actions widely relies on human rights which are upheld high in the EU´s and the EU MS internal policies. The interrelation between these two fields remains of high importance and should be better acknowledged in all dimensions of EU policies. Thus an action plan which focuses on external policies should also have a component of internal action.

We further want to outline the importance of Human Rights Education as a cross-cutting issue for all affected fields of policy making in the new action plan. Human Rights Education as well as the neighboring field of Education for Democratic Citizenship should play an important role. Equal access to Human Rights Education remains a driving force and powerful tool for democratic change.

Regards to the European Neighborhood Policy the focus therefore should not only be paid to respect for fundamental rights and freedoms but also include Human Rights Education as cross-cutting issue. Education for human Rights and Democratic Citizenship equip citizens with the relevant knowledge and skills to access Human Rights and ask for democratic procedures in their environment.

Leading by example the EU is asked to pay more attention to internal HR policies in the EU and the EU MS. This not only with the aim to counteract discrepancies in its approach to external and internal human rights issues but also to acknowledge that the situation within the EU itself remains critical.
Human Rights and Democracy cannot be taken for granted. They are public goods and as such they require an ongoing public commitment to supporting all forms of education (formal, non-formal). Especially the crucial role of civil society organizations as providers of Human Rights and democracy education in youth and adult learning should be acknowledged.

Antwerpen/Berlin 19/05/2015
on behaf of the DARE board

Georg Pirker

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