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Assigning Duties in the Global System of Human Rights: The Role of the European Union

Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)

Abstract

In December 1997, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU Heads of State commissioned a Committee of Experts to write a report analysing and suggesting ways of improving the EU’s activities in the area of human rights. This was not the first attempt by the EU to take stock of its human rights record. The report, duly published in 1998, was the latest in a series of proposals, starting in 1978, aimed at enhancing the EU’s capacity to promote human rights not only in third countries, but also within the EU.2 As in previous cases, the authors of the report identified a host of problems, including the marginal position of human rights in the Union’s activities; the inadequate information base upon which the Union constructs its human rights policies; and the policy incoherence produced by the Union’s fragmented decision-making structure. However, the most serious shortcoming identified by the authors was the inconsistency between the Union’s internal and external human rights policies. Echoing the title of their report, Leading by Example, the authors warned:

A Union which is not prepared to embrace a strong human rights policy for itself is highly unlikely to develop a credible external policy, let alone to apply it with energy or consistency. As long as human rights in Europe are considered to be an area in which the Union has only a very limited role, their status in the Union’s external policy will remain tenuous.3

Keywords

Global System European Constitution Amsterdam Treaty Draft Treaty Capacity Principle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2006

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