African migrants cross the Channel toward the south coast of England African migrants cross the Channel toward the south coast of England  (AFP or licensors)

Human Rights Day: Caritas invites EU leaders to take action for global south

Marking Human Rights Day, Caritas Africa and Caritas Europa urge European Union leaders to forge a stronger role for the EU in support of human rights.

By Linda Bordoni

One reason it is important to mark Human Rights Day is because millions of people across the world continue to suffer inequality, poverty, discrimination, exploitation. All of them affronts to human rights.  

The Day is observed annually on 10 December, the anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, established by the United Nations.

Although giant steps have to uphold and guarantee the inalienable rights all human beings are entitled to according to that milestone document, mindsets need to be changed and global action needs to be taken to protect vulnerable people.

That’s why Caritas Europa and Caritas Africa have joined their voices to ask EU leaders to make the best of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which was established as an opportunity for European citizens to debate on Europe’s challenges and priorities.

Principles and coherence

Caritas Europa’s Secretary-General, Maria Nyman, is challenging the EU to write a new page of history, “one in which human rights are less of a goal and more of a reality.” Her counterpart at Caritas Africa, Albert Mashika, underlines Europe’s core principles relating to “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights” and demands the EU be coherent in its external action “by taking care of the rights and the needs of the current and future generations.”

Taking a stronger leadership role, the two continental Caritas offices note, “does not require reinventing the wheel, but rather actions that better reflect the EU’s fundamental values and implement existing commitments.”

Underscoring the fact that in too many areas  EU policies are not working for the benefit of the poor and that things need to change, they express regret that some of these policies actually contribute to persisting forms of injustice and are guided by a profit-based economic model functioning at the expense of the environment, human dignity and the rights of local communities in the global South.”

Acknowledge, take responsibility, promote better policies

EU decision-makers they say, must acknowledge the negative impact that Europe has had and continues to have on other regions; it must take responsibility for addressing structural problems that cause poverty, inequalities, human rights violations, climate disasters, and forced displacement; and it needs to implement fairer trade policies, eradicate exploitative practices, reduce arms exports and end collaboration with dictatorships and governments with bad human rights records.

Finally, ahead of the 6th African Union-EU Summit taking place next year, they urge EU and African leaders to agree on a new partnership framework that enables the EU to play a more meaningful and constructive role in promoting human rights globally.


10 December 2021, 16:02