Plan International’s recommendations on the draft EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019
The EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 puts forward a set of actions which are to be implemented by the EU Institutions in Brussels and partner countries, and at national level by EU Member States. In collaboration with Plan International European National Offices, we submitted point-by-point recommendations on the Action Plan to ensure children's rights were adequately represented.
We welcome a number of the principles that the EU will apply in implementing the Action Plan (AP), such as the need to combat discrimination and to improve capacity and consistency within the EU to implement such an agenda. However, if the actors in a given country (e.g. EU Delegation, Member States etc) are given some latitude to choose the areas they focus on – which is a possible interpretation of countries translating the action plan into country-specific priorities – then such principles must be retained in every countryspecific plan. They must not become a nice-to-have. Clear guidance must also be given as to how to draw up such plans – for example as regards a minimum package of actions.
The Action Plan would be greatly strengthened if specific results to be achieved were cited with the action areas, with clear indicators to measure progress towards those results, otherwise the EU will be hardpressed to measure the success of the AP.
The EU will need to balance carefully support to endogenous forces supporting human rights in a country with the potentially very negative consequences for them personally – the Middle East and the Arab revolution being a prime example – and be sure that it will support such forces adequately if the situation becomes unstable. The EU must carry out comprehensive risk assessments of support to Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) to ensure they are safe and protected – as the risk of violent backlash against HRDs could cause personal harm to individuals and communities who speak out, these risks must be addressed.
It is questionable the degree to which ownership of local actors is the problem: rather it is likely to be repressive governments which refuse to engage on and respect human rights and act in such a way as to make other actors’ support of human rights difficult or dangerous. Therefore it could be more accurate to speak of commitment on the one side and capacity or ability on the other.