CoE Commissioner for Human Rights: Challenges to human rights have intensified in Europe

CoE Commissioner for Human Rights: Challenges to human rights have intensified in Europe

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, published today her annual activity report covering 2019. The report provides an overall picture of the main problems, challenges and opportunities that European countries are facing in the field of human rights. “The image I get from my work is of a Europe circling a roundabout, uncertain about its direction and the human rights obligations which member states voluntarily agreed upon,” says the Commissioner, adding that the current COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating long-standing problems and emphasising the weaknesses of Europe’s human rights protection system.

The Commissioner observes that in 2019 as in previous years, there have been growing challenges to human rights standards and principles all over the continent. In some cases, hostility to human rights as universal, indivisible and legally binding has increased, fuelling a corrosive narrative that endangers the principles and standards on which Europe has been built over the past seven decades.

Five of the topics covered in this report illustrate particularly well the ongoing backlash in Europe: the growing political and societal acceptance of racism; the disregard of the human rights of migrants and refugees; the threats to women’s rights; the repression of dissent; and the erosion of judicial independence.