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Human rights and democracy

Promoting and protecting human rights

There are two main streams of human rights policy and action within the European Union. One is to protect the fundamental human rights for EU citizens, and the other is to promote human rights worldwide.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights guarantees EU citizens’ rights. The Charter lays down the fundamental rights that are binding upon EU institutions and bodies. It also applies to national governments when they are implementing EU law.

The European Union is based on a strong commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide. Human rights are at the heart of EU relations with other countries and regions.

EU policy includes:

  • promoting the rights of women, children, minorities and displaced persons
  • opposing the death penalty, torture, human trafficking and discrimination
  • defending civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights
  • defending human rights through active partnership with partner countries, international and regional organisations, and groups and associations at all levels of society
  • inclusion of human rights clauses in all agreements on trade or cooperation with non-EU countries