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The EU as a global force for human rights

Denmark will:

  • Work to ensure that human rights and democracy are included as key priorities in the EU’s development cooperation and that the EU addresses the issue of inequality to a greater extent.
  • Work to ensure that the EU creates better coherence in the work of promoting human rights, both at the strategic level and at the country level.
  • Promote the use of the human rights-based approach to development across EU development policy and cooperation as well as across its foreign policy.
  • Push for the EU to systematically include civil society in development cooperation and to ensure that the EU is a firm supporter of civil society in situations where their political space is under pressure.´

For Denmark, human rights are both a means and an end of our development cooperation. Through the human rights-based approach to development and the principles of non-discrimination, participation and inclusion, transparency and accountability, focus can placed on the fundamental causes of poverty.

The EU's work on human rights

Human rights shall be a key element in the EU’s development cooperation in the same way that it is for Denmark’s. The work on human rights within EU development cooperation takes place primarily within the framework of Agenda for Change and the EU’s Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that were adopted during the Danish EU Presidency in 2012. Furthermore, the appointment of an EU Special Representative for Human Rights has increased the focus on a broader integration of human rights across the EU’s external policies. In addition, the EU’s policy for the role of civil society in EU development policy targets the promotion of citizens’ opportunities for demanding their rights, participating actively in decision-making processes and holding their governments accountable. The EU’s Human Rights Country Strategies play an extremely important role in identifying focus areas and addressing human rights problems, particularly within programmes for good governance and democracy.

The EU has broad and longstanding expertise in the field of human rights, but there exists a need to develop a common understanding among the EU’s institutions and it’s Member States of what the human rights-based approach involves and how it can be integrated across policies, guidelines and sectors. Therefore, a toolbox is to be developed, which can contribute to integrating the principles from the human rights-based approach into the EU’s activities and initiatives. Denmark is well-positioned to contribute to this due to our experience with developing tools and adapting efforts to the human rights-based approach to development.

Denmark's priorities and approaches

Denmark will work to ensure that the EU maintains its strong commitment to promoting human rights and democracy, and at the same time strengthens the integration of the human rights-based approach to development across all aspects of its development cooperation and in the external policies. Through joint initiatives, Denmark will work to create increased understanding and ownership of this approach throughout the EU’s institutions and Member States. The development and use of the toolbox for the human rights-based approach to development will be particularly prioritised, both at the policy and the country levels. Denmark will promote a pragmatic and implementable approach that builds on the work that the EU already undertakes in the area of human rights. This will require increased integration between the EU’s policies and instruments for development and human rights and clear coherence between the EU’s internal instruments and the normative work of promoting human rights under the auspices of the UN. Denmark will continue to impact the process of drafting relevant policy proposals so that the human rights-based approach is reflected at all levels and that focus is placed on addressing inequality.

Specifically, Denmark will promote the use of the human rights-based approach in the programming and subsequent reviews of the EU’s development assistance throughout the next seven-year period. In particular, we will seek to ensure an increased effort at the country level, where, through close cooperation with the EU Delegations, Denmark can help to promote the capacity and political initiatives necessary for rolling out the human rights-based approach in the activities of the EU and the Member States. Denmark emphasises the need for the approach to be flexible, pragmatic and aligned with the local context and with the particular countries’ own priorities.

Denmark will work to ensure that the EU systematises its dialogue with civil society organisations at the country level to a greater extent so that these organisations are included as important actors and advocates in realising the basic rights of local populations. The EU must be a firm support for civil society in situations where their political space is under pressure. Denmark will support the implementation of the EU’s civil society strategy and press to ensure that the local roadmaps for the EU’s cooperation with civil society in third countries are drawn up through an open and inclusive process based on joint analyses and coordination and with the inclusion of local civil society. The link between the roadmaps and the EU’s Human Rights Country Strategies will also sought strengthened.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
Asiatisk Plads 2 
DK-1448 Copenhagen K
Tel. +45 33 92 00 00
Fax +45 32 54 05 33



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