Open Letter from Non-Governmental Organizations in Support of a Targeted, Global EU Human Rights Sanctions Regime

December 05, 2018



Dear Ministers of Foreign Affairs,

We, the 90 undersigned organizations dedicated to the promotion of universal human rights and/or the fight against corruption, write to voice our strong support for the Foreign Affairs Council to initiate a process aimed at establishing an EU-wide program for the imposition of targeted sanctions on individuals and entities deemed responsible for serious human rights violations. Noting that the Foreign Affairs Council will take up this matter on December 10, 2018—the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—we urge all state representatives to honor the Declaration by supporting action on such a sanctions regime, and, in so doing, beginning the process of providing the EU with an additional, critical tool to combat impunity and defend human rights worldwide.

Today more than ever, we recognize that the promotion and protection of equal and inalienable rights form the basis of justice, peace, and security. Where human rights are violated and corruption is allowed to flourish, individuals are less safe and communities are less stable and secure. With universal human rights and the rule of law under significant challenge globally, now is thus an opportune moment to take an unmistakable step forward in defense of our common values.

As we have seen in countries that have enacted and utilized “Global Magnitsky” sanctions laws to date, a global human rights and anti-corruption sanctions program can serve as a vital addition to the diplomatic and legal toolkit essential to upholding human rights and the rule of law. In a relatively short period of time, governments such as those in the United States and Canada have used their human rights and anti-corruption sanctions laws to fight impunity for some of the world’s most heinous crimes in countries from Myanmar to Saudi Arabia. A similar tool will provide the EU with the ability to shine a spotlight on and compel changes of behavior in some of the world’s worst human rights violators. Robust implementation also has the potential to deter would-be kleptocrats and those that would use violence to silence dissent and maintain their grip on power.

We applaud the Dutch government for its demonstrated commitment toward achieving a global human rights sanctions program. We also commend those other EU governments that have voiced their support for this effort and encourage in the strongest terms all other EU member states to likewise support the initiative on December 10.


Aditus Foundation Institute of Public Policies
American Jewish World Service India Committee of the Netherlands
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Institute for Development and Social Initiatives
Article 19 Institute for European Policies and Reforms
Association UMDPL Ukraine International Campaign for Tibet
Boat People SOS International Partnership for Human Rights
Center for Civil Liberties Joint Baltic American National Committee
Center for Justice & Accountability Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
Center for Policies and Reforms (Moldova) Lawyers for Lawyers
China Against the Death Penalty Legal Resources Centre from Moldova
China Change Legal Transformation Center (Belarus)
China Human Rights Accountability Center Magnitsky Act Initiative
Christian Solidarity Worldwide The McCain Institute
Citizen Power Initiatives for China Media Initiative for Human Rights (Ukraine)
Citizens’ Watch Mexicanos vs Corrupción e Impunidad
Clean Clothes Campaign International Office National Endowment for Democracy
Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam Netherlands Helsinki Committee
Community The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
Council for Global Equality Norwegian Helsinki Committee
CrimeaSOS Open Dialogue Foundation
Crude Accountability Pax
DRA (Berlin) PEN America
EarthRights International Physicians for Human Rights
The Enough Project Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta
Estonian American National Council Project Expedite Justice
Fair Trials Promo LEX Moldova
Freedom House Protection of Rights Without Borders (Armenia)
Freedom Now Public Association “Dignity”
Free Press Unlimited Religious Liberty Commission, World Evangelical Alliance
Heartland Initiative Reporters Without Borders
Helsinki Association Armenia Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vsnadzor The Sentry
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland) Sova Center
Hivos Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
HRM Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan Transparencia Venezuela
Humanitarian China Transparency International
Human Rights Center “Memorial” Transparency International Moldova
Human Rights Club (Azerbaijan) Truth Hounds
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Human Rights First VETO! Human Rights Defenders Network
Human Rights Foundation Vietnam Coalition Against Torture
Human Rights House Zagreb Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
Human Rights Matter VOICE
Human Rights Monitoring Institute World Organisation Against Torture
Hungarian Helsinki Committee Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit

Published on December 5, 2018


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