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EU-Arab League first Summit : Are human rights overlooked?

March 2nd 2019

The leaders of the EU and the Arab League gathered in a first-ever summit on 24 and 25 February in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt. SOLIDAR welcomes the reference, in the final joint declaration, to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which should guide both parts to achieve shared objectives. However the increasing focus on security, migration and countering terrorism of the EU external policy risks deviating EU development cooperation from its main goal, namely eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities. Developed by SOLIDAR members and partners, the Social Rights Monitor Scoreboard in the MENA region observes that no substantive changes or significant improvements have occurred in the areas of freedom of association, decent work and social protection since 2013. The situation has particularly worsened precisely in Egypt in the areas of freedom of association, decent work and access to social protection.

SOLIDAR also salutes the recognition in the final statement of common challenges and the need for shared solutions in accordance with international law (including human rights laws). But the current human rights situation requires a stronger statement. The execution, a few days before the summit, of nine persons for their alleged participation in the assassination of the former Public prosecutor in 2015, indicates the gap between the speeches and the reality on the ground. The abolition of the death penalty worldwide is one of the main objectives of EU’s human rights policy, and executions have been strongly condemned by the Chair of the European’s Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights, Antonio Panzeri.

SOLIDAR strongly reaffirms that an equitable distribution of knowledge, income and power is essential to build a just and equal society, ensure an inclusive democratic transition and achieve a sustainable economic and social development. Finding solutions to the current security and migration challenges should not be at the expense of EU stand for the protection and defense of fundamental human rights.