On International Human Rights Day, Churches in Europe have demanded EU politicians “put human dignity at the heart of policy-making” and “design policies that work for the people”.

Caritas Europa: EC must put people at the centre of EU external policies

On the Human Rights Day, 10 December, Caritas Europa calls on the new European Commission (EC) to reaffirm with actions its commitment to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and to upholding Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development in all the EU external policies. Only this way will the EU ensure the protection of the human rights and dignity of all.

Caritas Europa urges the Commissioner-designate for International Partnerships to prioritise human-centred international development policies, and calls on the entire College to put people at the centre of all EU external policies.

Human rights, such as freedom and equality, are part of the EU’s founding values (Article 2 in the Treaty on European Union) and of the Agenda 2030 and the SDG goals, to which the EU and its Member States have committed. Human rights should be protected and promoted in all EU external policies including in the areas of agriculture, trade, taxation, and migration, as well as in the EU’s security and development policies.

However, the current agenda puts the EU’s own economic and security interests first, to the neglect of poverty eradication, fighting inequalities, and creating safe and legal pathways for migration, among others. The EC should thus prioritise its efforts to reverse the EU policies that have a negative impact on sustainable development in the Global South and to ensure that all future policies commit to leaving no one behind. For example, the EU and its Member States – as the most important donor of development aid – play an essential role in the fight against hunger. In this regard, the EU should consider the regulation of biofuels, land tenure and trade policies from a global point of view by assessing all the consequences and risks they could bring to the poorest in the world.

“All political activity must serve people. EU leaders have a responsibility to adopt an ethical interpretation of the relation between migration, development and the human person. Human dignity should be the central moral consideration in the design and implementation of EU external policies”.

Maria Nyman, Secretary General of Caritas Europa

Caritas Europa advocates that EU development aid must emphasise integral human development over economic growth, and the human dignity and human rights of every person over preventing migration to Europe. All human beings should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential in dignity.

“The International Human Rights Day is an opportunity for us to remind EU leaders to take diversity seriously, to put human dignity at the heart of policy-making, and to rethink how they themselves relate to the people. We want them to listen to those experiencing poverty and exclusion and to design policies that work for the people”.

Dr. Shannon Pfohman, Caritas Europa Policy and Advocacy Director

(Source: Caritas Europa)

Conference of European Churches/Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe: On Human Rights Day churches call for the protection of human life

Churches in Europe mark Human Rights Day observed on 10 December by calling for the protection of human life.

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) and Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) have endorsed again the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” One of the central concerns of churches is the sanctity of life and inviolable dignity of every human being created in the image of God.

In an event at the European Parliament held in Brussels on 10 December by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) and the Community of Sant’ Egidio, churches have supported expansion of the successful Humanitarian Corridors programme. They stressed that expanding safe and legal channels for accessing protection is urgently needed.

FCEI and the Community of Sant’Egidio developed pioneer humanitarian corridors from Lebanon to Italy in 2015. At the European Parliament event they launched the proposal that further humanitarian corridors be opened for 50,000 from in and around Libya over a period of two years.

“On a day when we are celebrating human rights, an ecumenical coalition is presenting a proposal to EU Institutions to open humanitarian corridors from Libya and neighbouring countries in crisis, analogous to those, which already exist in Italy and a handful of other EU countries,” said Rev. Luca Maria Negro, president of FCEI.

“Human rights should not simply be a matter of words but a matter of action. Humanitarian corridors are exactly that and this is the right time for the EU to take this forward,” he added.

Speaking at the event, Dr Torsten Moritz, CCME General Secretary, commented, “With crisis situations getting worse around Europe, our continent needs to contribute more to protection of the most vulnerable.” He went on to say that “European humanitarian corridors will be an important part of doing that with safety and dignity for those we want to protect.”

Rev. Christian Krieger, CEC President, said, “The humanitarian crisis faced by the migrants, whose human rights are violated every day, calls us as Christians to be in witness and offer hospitality.”

“We, therefore, strongly support the call from CCME and other Christian organisations demanding safe and legal passages. On this Human Rights Day, we affirm once again our commitment to work together for the protection of human life,” he added.

CCME together with other Christian organisations have suggested a “toolbox” of safe and legal pathways into the European Union.

CEC and CCME have been vocal in promoting the sanctity of life and need for safe passage for migrants and refugees over many years. CEC’s 4th Summer School on Human Rights, which took place in Palermo in 2017, highlighted the importance of making human rights central to migration and refugee policy. This message remains pertinent as churches note with sorrow the many who have died on their way to Europe.

(Source: Conference of European Churches)

Next on Novena:

Justice and Peace Europe calls on EU to “protect and promote” rights of indigenous