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European Union

Open Letter from NGOs in support of a targeted, global EU human rights sanctions regime

December 05, 2018

Dear EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs,

We, the 90 undersigned organizations dedicatedto 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 aprocess aimed at establishing an EU-wide program for the imposition of targetedsanctions on individuals and entities deemed responsible for serious human rightsviolations. 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 HumanRights— we urge all state representatives to honor the Declaration bysupporting action on such a sanctions regime, and, in so doing, beginning theprocess of providing the EU with an additional, critical tool to combatimpunity and defend human rights worldwide.

Today more than ever, we recognize that thepromotion and protection of equal and inalienable rights form the basis ofjustice, peace, and security. Where human rights are violated and corruption isallowed to flourish, individuals are less safe and communities are less stableand secure. With universal human rights and the rule of law under significantchallenge globally, now is thus an opportune moment to take an unmistakablestep forward in defense of our common values.

As we have seen in countries that have enactedand utilized “Global Magnitsky” sanctions laws to date, a global human rightsand anti-corruption sanctions program can serve as a vital addition to thediplomatic and legal toolkit essential to upholding human rights and the ruleof law. In a relatively short period of time, governments such as those in theUnited States and Canada have used their human rights and anti-corruptionsanctions laws to fight impunity for some of

the world’s most heinous crimes in countriesfrom Myanmar to Saudi Arabia. A similar tool will provide the EU with theability to shine a spotlight on and compel changes of behavior in some of theworld’s worst human rights violators. Robust implementation also has thepotential to deter would-be kleptocrats and those that would use violence tosilence dissent and maintain their grip on power.

We applaud the Dutch government for itsdemonstrated commitment toward achieving a global human rights sanctionsprogram. We also commend those other EU governments that have voiced theirsupport for this effort and encourage in the strongest terms all other EUmember states to likewise support the initiative on December 10.


1. Aditus Foundation

2. American Jewish World Service

3. Americans for Democracy & HumanRights in Bahrain

4. Article 19

5. Association UMDPL Ukraine

6. Boat People SOS

7. Center for Civil Liberties

8. Center for Justice & Accountability

9. Center for Policies and Reforms(Moldova)

10. ChinaAgainst the Death Penalty

11. ChinaChange

12. ChinaHuman Rights Accountability Center

13. ChristianSolidarity Worldwide

14. CitizenPower Initiatives for China

15. Citizens’Watch

16. CleanClothes Campaign International Office

17. Committeefor Religious Freedom in Vietnam


19. Councilfor Global Equality

20. CrimeaSOS

21. CrudeAccountability

22. EarthRightsInternational

23. EstonianAmerican National Council

24. FairTrials

25. Free Press Unlimited

26. FreedomHouse

27. FreedomNow

28. Heartland Initiative

29. Helsinki Association Armenia

30. Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vsnadzor

31. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights(Poland)

32. Hivos

33. HRM Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan

34. Human Rights Center “Memorial”

35. Human Rights Club (Azerbaijan)

36. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea

37. Human Rights First

38. Human Rights Foundation

39. Human Rights House Zagreb

40. Human Rights Matter

41. Human Rights Monitoring Institute

42. Humanitarian China

43. Hungarian Helsinki Committee

44. IndiaCommittee of the Netherlands

45. Institutefor Development and Social Initiatives

46. Institutefor European Policies and Reforms

47. Instituteof Public Policies

48. InternationalCampaign for Tibet

49. InternationalPartnership for Human Rights

50. JointBaltic American National Committee

51. KazakhstanInternational Bureau for Human Rights and theRule of Law

52. Lawyersfor Lawyers

53. LegalResources Centre from Moldova

54. LegalTransformation Center (Belarus)

55. MagnitskyAct Initiative

56. MediaInitiative for Human Rights (Ukraine)

57. Mexicanos vs Corrupción eImpunidad

58. Moldova

59. NationalEndowment for Democracy

60. NetherlandsHelsinki Committee

61. NorwegianHelsinki Committee

62. OMCT - World Organisation Against Torture

63. OpenDialogue Foundation

64. PaxDRA (Berlin)

65. PENAmerica

66. Physiciansfor Human Rights

67. Platformof Human Rights Organisations in Malta

68. ProjectExpedite Justice

69. PromoLEX

70. Protectionof Rights Without Borders (Armenia)

71. PublicAssociation “Dignity”

72. Religious Liberty Commission, WorldEvangelical Alliance

73. Reporters Without Borders

74. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

75. Sova Center

76. TheEnough Project

77. TheMcCain Institute

78. TheNetwork of Chinese Human Rights Defenders

79. The Sentry

80. Torture Abolition and SurvivorsSupport Coalition International

81. Transparencia Venezuela

82. Transparency International

83. Transparency International Moldova

84. Truth Hounds

85. Ukrainian Helsinki Human RightsUnion

86. VETO! Human Rights Defenders Network

87. Vietnam Coalition Against Torture

88. Vietnamese Women for Human Rights


90. Zivilcourage undAnti-Rassismus-Arbeit

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