In 1948, after the devastating Second World War, which brought painful divisions in Europe and occupation for many European countries, the international community committed to define, promote and protect human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we celebrate on 10 December has enshrined these shared principles and has had a profound influence on the development of the world. But still, almost seventy years on, we are far from the full respect of these commitments all over the world, and we recognize that all states must do more in this respect.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted without dissent by the UN General Assembly on December 10 in 1948 and this year the Human Rights Day marks the launch of a year-long campaign to celebrate the 70th anniversary in 2018. As we prepare for this anniversary, not only rights and freedoms are still being challenged, but the space for civil society continues to shrink in many countries throughout the world.
As the European Union, from the very beginning we have made the protection of human rights not only the foundation of our common internal and external policies, but of our Union itself. We view all human rights as universal, indivisible and interdependent, with no difference between civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The EU will continue to reaffirm its commitment to protect and promote the universality of human rights whenever they are violated or questioned, inside or outside its borders.
The European Union will keep being at the side of those who stand up for human rights every day, as human rights defenders face increasing pressure and threats in many countries across the globe. We do not only pay tribute to them, but we actively support their work and will continue to do so. The full respect of all human rights is a precondition for any democratic and resilient society, for sustainable development, security and long term peace.
The EU will also continue to be the strongest supporter of the multilateral system as a pillar of the promotion and protection of human rights, starting from the United Nations to the International Criminal Court and to regional institutions such as the Council of Europe. It is our common responsibility to guarantee their effectiveness and the highest standards of integrity.
Today, the European Union and its Member States join the United Nations and many others in calling upon states and people to Stand up for Human Rights on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2017. The EU Member States, the institutions, the EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis and the EU Delegations all celebrate Human Rights Day. We will continue to Stand up for Human Rights and for all those fighting to defend them.