EU and Human Rights

Support to human rights defenders is one of the major priorities of the EU external policy in the field of human rights. Human rights defenders – who sometimes put their life at risk to defend and promote fundamental human rights - are key agents of change in their own society.

In order to streamline EU actions in this field, in 2004 EU adopted Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. The guidelines translate into concrete terms assistance and protection to human rights defenders. Since 2004, the EU has taken a series of measures to translate the Guidelines into action. Drawing on hitherto experiences, the guidelines have been reviewed and a revised version of this document was approved by the EU in November 2008.

At local level, the EU Delegation to Turkey together with the EU diplomatic missions in Turkey has adopted an "EU Local Strategy to Support and Defend Human Rights Defenders in Turkey" in 2011. It has been updated in 2012 and 2016. Please find the updated 2016 local strategy here.  (Focal points have been updated in 2016.) This strategy has been drafted with input from Turkish Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). It provides operational guidelines for EU Missions to implement the EU's Guidelines for Human Rights Defenders, notably with regard to the provision of effective support to HRDs as well as the monitoring of the situation of HRDs in Turkey. In the framework of this strategy, regular meetings take place every year with EU missions and HRDs and NGOs, and a liaison officer has been appointed in order to secure local assistance when needed.

In addition to the Guidelines, financial support to human right defenders is also provided under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). €22.16 million have been allocated to this aim for the period between 2011 and 2013. €37.5 million have been allocated to this aim for the period between 2014 and 2020.

PRESS RELEASE - 12 February 2016 : EU and Human Rights Defenders discuss freedom of expression and of the media in Turkey (DOC, 49 kB) 

PRESS RELEASE – 25.FEBRUARY.2014 : "EU and Human Rights Defenders discussed the situation of LGBTIs and Freedom of Assembly in Turkey" (DOC, 28 kB) 

PRESS RELEASE- 19.NOVEMBER.2013: "EU and Human Rights Defenders in Turkey met representatives of the National Human Rights Institution" (DOC, 36 kB)  


PRESS RELEASE - 8 April 2013 (DOC, 38 kB) 

PRESS RELEASE - 10 December 2012 : "EU Missions and Human Rights Defenders Discuss the Implementation of the EU Local Strategy to Support Human Rights Defenders in Turkey" (DOC, 36 kB) 

PRESS RELEASE 30.03.2015

For assistance or more information about the local strategy please contact:

Focal Point on Human Rights:

  • Mr. Ireneusz Fidos, Head of Political Affairs, CFSP, Press and Information Section
  • Ms. Emma Clua Vandellos, Deputy Head of Civil Society, Fundamental Rights, Judiciary and Home Affairs Section

Focal Point for HRDs:

  • Ms. Lara Scarpitta Political Officer

EIDHR Aspects of Work with HRDs

  • Ms. Eser Canalioğlu Çınar

Gender Focal Point:

  • Ms. Nalân Özdemir
  • Ms. Zeynep Aydemir Koyuncu

Disabilities Correspondent:

  • Mr. M. Caner Demir





EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief:

Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons:

Human Rights Defenders - Key Links
European External Actions Service – Human Rights Defenders
• The Defenders Take the Floor
Human Rights Defenders - Key Documents
Remarks by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the EU annual report on human rights (PDF, 93 kB) 
EU Local Strategy to Support and Defend Human Rights Defenders in Turkey (PDF, 51 kB) 
Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights Defenders – Front Line Handbook
Human Rights Defenders Brochure
EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy Factsheet (PDF, 87 kB) 
EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (PDF, 179 kB) 
EU adopts Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy (PDF, 41 kB)