Human Rights Dialogue
In December 2001 the EU adopted its Guidelines on Human Rights Dialogues, which contain criteria for the initiation, conduct and evaluation of human rights dialogue with third countries. On this basis the EU conducts human rights dialogue and consultations with many states and in many forms: as biannual structured human rights dialogue, ad hoc dialogue, consultations within the European Neighbourhood Policy, and in the framework of agreements with third countries, such as the Cotonou Agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. The number of dialogues has increased considerably in recent years; apart from established dialogue with China and Russia, dialogue was recently initiated with Uzbekistan, and dialogue with further Central Asian and other states is planned.
Structured human rights dialogue between the EU and China has existed since 1997. Apart from the meeting of the EU Troika with representatives of the Chinese government, expert seminars are held with participants from academic circles, NGOs and official representatives of the EU and China.
Among the issues addressed in the dialogue are the ratification by China of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, cooperation with UN human rights mechanism, freedom of opinion, reform of the “re-education through work” system, rule of law (reform of the justice system), prohibition of torture, abolition of the death penalty, religious freedom, the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang, and the persecution of human rights defenders and the Falun Gong movement. The EU discusses individual human rights cases, particularly those relating to imprisoned persons.
The EU-Iran human rights dialogue established in December 2002 broke down after the fourth round of talks in June 2004. After Iran expressed an interest in early 2006 in resuming the dialogue, Austria endeavoured during its EU Presidency in the first half of 2006 to continue it. Agreement was reached on modalities for dialogue, and a fifth round of talks was planned for December 2006, which were subsequently cancelled by Iran. Austria and the EU regularly intervene with the Iranian government regarding the human rights situation in Iran and mention the critical human rights situation in public statements.
Human rights consultations with the Russian Federation
Human rights consultations between the EU and the Russian Federation have been taking place twice a year since 2005. Issues regularly addressed by the EU include the situation in Chechnya, the implementation of European Court of Human Rights decisions, human rights violations by the military and police, and restrictive NGO legislation. The EU attaches great value to regular meetings with representatives of Russian civil society during the consultations.
On 9 May 2007 the first round of EU-Uzbekistan dialogue took place in Tashkent. The meeting took place within the Sub-Committee on Justice and Home Affairs in accordance with the EU-Uzbekistan partnership and cooperation agreement. Among the issues raised by the EU were the question of freedom of opinion, media and assembly and the prison conditions in Uzbekistan. Individual cases of imprisoned human rights defenders were also discussed by the EU.