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The EU Honours Human Rights Day

Commissioner Piebalgs to discuss future of Development Agenda in London

Today the world celebrates the Human Rights Day after the signature, 64 years ago, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Democracy and human rights are universal values that play a fundamental role in the fight towards poverty alleviation and conflict prevention and resolution. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is the concrete instrument of the EU for the promotion of democracy and human rights into all of its external policies.

The European Union is committed to supporting those who strive to make human rights recognised, fulfilled and respected, sometimes at the risk of their own lives and their families' wellbeing. In fact, human rights are one of the principles guiding the Commission's Agenda for Change, the latest policy blueprint, since good governance, in its political, economic, social and environmental terms, is vital for inclusive and sustainable development. The European Commission has provided, since 2000, more than €3 billion to promote human rights and democracy.

Democracy and human rights are inextricably linked. Only in a democracy enjoying the fundamental freedoms of expression and association and political pluralism, people can fully realise their human rights. The EU’s support to democracy has led to some success, including the strengthening of Yemeni Parliament; the increase in participation of under-represented indigenous groups in Bolivia; the safeguard of freedom of expression and a free press in Ivory Coast or the enhancement of citizens' trust in electoral processes in Bangladesh.

The closest example of the fight for democracy and human rights are the Arab Spring uprisings. The EU quickly recognised the challenges of such political and economic transition. Two policy documents of the EU High Representative and the European Commission, stressed the need for the EU to support the demand for political participation, dignity, freedom and employment opportunities.


The EIDHR instrument can grant aid where no established development cooperation exists, and can intervene without the agreement of the governments of third countries. It can support groups or individuals within civil society defending democracy as well as intergovernmental organizations that implement the international mechanisms for the protection of human rights. Work with, for and through civil society organizations gives to the EIDHR its critical profile.

To read Commissioner's blog on the Human Rights Day:

To find out more:

Last update: 29/01/2015 |  Top