European Elections: an opportunity to protect human rights

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    European parlament. Source: Pexels.

To reach a better, fairer, and more sustainable future, the European Union must place human rights first and at the heart of its debates and actions. 

Adriana Ribas


Coordinator of Amnesty International Catalonia

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Adriana Ribas
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Adriana Ribas
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Adriana Ribas

Once every five years, European citizens have the opportunity to elect our representatives to the European Parliament, so they defend our interests. Many perceive this call to elections with less interest than other elections, but this perception is wrong and may even be dangerous: elections to the European Parliament play a decisive role for the future of millions of people, since key decisions are taken on issues ranging from economics to the fight against poverty or security.

To reach a better, fairer, and more sustainable future, the European Union must place human rights first and at the heart of its debates and actions. From Amnesty International we promote some ideas to give human rights the centre stage.

It is essential that the EU is strongly based on protecting the rights of all persons and to make their right to freedom effective. For this to happen, it is paramount to protect the voices and space of civil society, which are often under attack, and to safeguard the freedoms of expression, assembly, and peaceful reunion. The EU and its Member States must also safeguard plurality, equality, diversity, and respect for human dignity, and we need transparency and States that are accountable, since this is the cornerstone of the Rule of Law.

It is also essential to protect refugees and migrants in a Europe that is centered around solidarity and human rights. Policies that affect people on the move must be fair, impartial, and based on solidarity, with a shared responsibility to protect people searching for safety, both in the EU and around the world. This also means investing in fair and functional asylum and reception systems, legal and safe routes to arrive in, live in and work in the EU. In this regard, we regret that with the European New Pact on Migration and Asylum, Europe has missed an important opportunity to build a migration and asylum system that strengthens these rights.

The EU must also place the promotion and protection of human rights at the heart of its foreign policy. The EU and its Member States have the potential to act as true human rights’ champions in the world, but for this to happen it must defend the universality of human rights and the international human rights’ system and must demand accountability from those States where human rights are violated. It is also essential to defend those defending our rights and to strengthen the EU’s actions to promote and protect human rights’ defenders who are at risk.

At the same time, it is also important to adopt decisive measures to tackle climate change and to protect the rights of present and future generations. It is time for the EU to meet its commitment and obligations to phase out fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need real commitments towards achieve a just green transition that respects the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.

These pleas must also serve as the basis and as inspiration for candidates and must serve as a strong beacon for citizens that want a Europe where a growing number of people can fully enjoy their rights and that promotes human rights globally. Let’s raise our voice and decide the future of the EU for a Europe of human rights.

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