The EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, passionately defended human rights during the 11th annual Anna Lindh Lecture.
“If you want to fight terrorism,” he said, “then support human rights around the world. This is part of the reason why the EU so strongly supports human rights. And it’s not soft policy, rather it’s hard foreign policy.”
Speaking at University Hall at Lund University, Stavros Lambrinidis, whose role is to enhance the effectiveness and visibility of the EU’s human rights policy, laid out a number of challenges in promoting and protecting human rights.
He said the EU has to do as much as it can to defend the fundamental idea that human rights are for all people, that they are universal, because today many are challenging that notion.
“Human rights has always been the language of the powerless against the cultural relativism of the powerful,” he said.
He also mentioned that there was an increasingly tough environment for civil society around the world and suggested perhaps that EU populations are less focused on human rights today than in recent years.
Lambrinidis then laid out the framework for the EU’s foreign policy on human rights, which he organized under 7 E’s.
Empowerment: Emphasizing the importance of empowering individuals and actors around the world who work with human rights.
Engage: Meeting all governments with good and bad human rights records to try to start a dialogue and talk about solutions.
Enlarge: Building human rights coalitions around the world and working with the regional human rights bodies.
Encourage: Encourage change in human rights. “In some instances, the language we use is rusty,” he said.
Enforce: Sometimes other measures do not work. The EU should issue public statements when necessary, and he called for a renewed focus on protecting the ICC.
Embody: “Is Europe practicing what it preaches?” he asked. Europe needs to embody the principles of human rights in addition to talking about them.
Elevate: Elevating the EU’s image of human rights and convening others around the world to lead on an array of human rights issues.