On 10 December, the European Union and its Member States celebrate Human Rights Day. As inequality and violations of
human rights pose increasing challenges across the world, and conflict continues in countries such as Syria, it is all the more
important that we redouble our efforts to defend the rights of all people. This is why this year we join the United Nations in calling
upon people to stand up for someone’s rights.
Each of us has an individual responsibility to stand up for these rights. We can draw inspiration from human rights defenders,
who bravely face increasing pressure and threats in many countries. The European Union resolves to protect them, and to
promote civil society space. EU officials at all levels do this by meeting with human rights defenders, monitoring their trials,
visiting them in detention and raising their cases with governments. In 2016, the EU has also provided financial support through
the EIDHR Emergency Fund to more than 250 human rights defenders and their families who are at risk because of their daily
Whilst individual action is essential, the European Union as a whole will continue to play a leading role in promoting a rules-
based global order, with respect for human rights at its core. The EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros
Lambrinidis, is actively raising the profile of EU human rights policy globally. Meanwhile, EU delegations are working tirelessly to
defend human rights in their host countries. The EU remains a vocal advocate for human rights in multilateral fora and lends its
full support to the UN human rights system, which is fundamental to protecting universal human rights and monitoring compliance.
In the coming year, the EU will be pursuing the follow up to the new Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy,
launched in June 2016, in which we pledged to foster respect for human rights both within and outside the EU. This includes
ensuring the highest level of human rights protection for migrants and refugees in all EU action on migration and development.
We will also be assessing progress on our ambitious Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2015-2019. Equally, we
will renew our commitment to combatting torture and ill-treatment and protecting the rights of the child by reviewing our EU
guidelines and further strengthening the impact of our policies on these issues.
Today and every day this year, the EU will stand up for human rights worldwide, and will commit its full support to every individual
who does the same.