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For human rights

The European Union’s strong commitment to human rights is derived from the EU having its roots in an age of extensive and extremely grave human rights violations and from Europe’s determination to ensure that such violations should never happen again.

Indeed the EU was founded on the ashes of World War II and has since then worked to foster the connection among its member states, starting from the economic background of the beginnings and then establishing a stronger political bond as time went by. The strong human rights call of the EU has been further bolstered by its own member states, which, also due to their common historical and cultural heritage, possess their own commitment to the shared human rights agenda.

It is only natural that human rights constitute an important element of the EU agenda at home and worldwide. The European Treaty, known as Lisbon Treaty, stipulates that the union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles of democracy, rule of law, universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, equality and solidarity and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.

The EU pursues human rights dialogues with over 40 countries and supports partner countries worldwide to strengthen government and institutions to comply with its international human rights commitments. Other essential partners are the civil society organisations. The EU under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) supports international and national NGOs in their work for democratisation and human rights.

In Pakistan, the EU has a long-standing commitment to support the democratic forces promoting the rule of law and respect of human rights. We closely work with the government on its path to reconcile the necessity to fight terrorism with respect for human rights. It is not an easy task and the struggle to achieve results is marked by significant ups and downs.

In order to support Pakistan’s determination in this pursuit, the EU famously conceded access in 2014 to its 500 million consumers strong internal market for Pakistani enterprises through the instrument of GSP Plus. This scheme calls on Pakistan to properly implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environment and good governance.

Over the last two years, we have seen an increased and more accurate monitoring of developments in the field of human rights which allows us to keep track of relevant dynamics and adjust them when necessary. The EU has welcomed the decision of the prime minister to set up a dedicated the Treaty Implementation Cell. The initiative aims to foster the implementation of the GSP+ related international conventions. Three weeks ago, the latest bilateral dialogue between Pakistan and the EU took notice of significant progress in the field of human rights but also of areas of implementation.

As democracy continues to takes roots in Pakistan, it is inevitable for pressure to rise from its citizens for the resolution of a number of standing issues. The present governments, both at federal and provincial level, have already proved themselves sensitive to the public’s new and different attention towards women and legislated to curb ‘honour’ killings. Sensitivity for children’s rights is also evidenced in laws banning child labour, especially in it is worst form, bonded labour. The EU trusts that reflections on the space allowed to national and international NGOs will be completed with positive results.

NGOs are the barometer of democracy. A vibrant civil society must be able to discuss, tackle and work on all issues in a healthy environment. Pakistan must also look beyond these challenges and take action against issues that have a more direct bearing on security, such as enforced disappearances.

Solving contradictions between the need to provide security to its citizens and civil liberties is not an easy task. The EU is aware of it too but we strongly believe that long-lasting security can only be achieved with a strict respect of human rights and the rule of law. To this end, the EU will continue to work with all stakeholders in Pakistan.

The writer is the ambassador of the European Union to
Pakistan.

Jean-François Cautain, "For human rights," The News. 2016-12-14.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social issues , Social crisis , Social events , Social needs , Human rights , Civil society , Honour killings , Democracy , Governance , Violence , Terrorism , Pakistan , GSP+ , NGO