FRAME Fostering Human Rights Among European Policies


EU Multi-Level and Multi-Actor Human Rights Engagement

The second cluster addresses the EU’s multi-level and multi-actor human rights engagement. It considers human rights as a component of global governance in terms of assessing the various levels and actors engaged with human rights. The concept of ‘engagement’ refers to the EU’s positive engagement and cooperation with other actors that protect and promote human rights, on the one hand, and to the EU’s critical positioning vis-à-vis problematic actors, such as states which grossly violate human rights, perpetrators involved in international crimes or business enterprises which do not act responsibly, on the other. Since human rights are a cross-cutting issue, multiple actors on multiple levels are relevant for ensuring an effective and coherent EU human rights policy. Indeed, Article 21(1) TEU expressly provides: ‘The Union shall seek to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries, and international, regional or global organisations which share the principles referred to in the first subparagraph’, notably human rights, democracy and the rule of law. First, this presupposes the EU’s active engagement with the most universal international organisation, the United Nations (UN), as the EU has committed itself in the aforementioned Treaty provision to ‘promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations.’ This also involves the EU’s engagement with European-based regional multilateral organisations dealing with human rights, namely the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as certain non-European organisations active in this area, including the African Union, the Arab League, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) [WP 5]. Second, this implicates the EU’s engagement with third countries through regional partnerships, especially the European Enlargement Policy, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the ACP framework, and bilateral cooperation with China, India, South Africa and the United States [WP 6]. Third, in view of their growing influence on the protection and promotion of human rights, non-state actors (e.g. businesses, civil society, individual human rights defenders and NGOs) are an important part of the assessment [WP 7]. Finally, the relevant actors and levels for EU human rights engagement are not only located outside the EU, but also within the EU itself, thereby requiring study of the ‘horizontal’ relationship between the relevant Union institutions and bodies, such as the European Council, the Council, the European Parliament, the Commission, the Court of Justice of the EU, the High Representative, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the EEAS and EU delegations, and the ‘vertical’ relationship between the EU and the Member States [WP 8].

Key Deliverables

    • Analysis of EU engagement with UN and regional organisations
    • Case studies on the Arab League and OIC
    • Assessment of EU regional and bilateral partnerships
    • Regional and bilateral cooperation for the protection of human rights. Case studies on Enlargement, ENP, ACP framework and EU relations with China, India, South Africa and US
    • Examination of EU engagement with private actors, TNCs and civil society
    • Case study on accountability of non-state actors
    • Evaluation of coherence among EU institutions and Member States