Advocacy letter

Non-Governmental Organizations in Support of Global EU Human Rights Sanctions Regime

Open Letter from Non-Governmental Organizations in support of a targeted, global EU Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

Open Letter from Non-Governmental Organizations in support of a targeted, global EU Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

Download the PDF of the Letter.

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 anticorruption 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


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


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


Estonian American National Council Project Expedite Justice

Fair Trials Promo LEX Moldova

Freedom House Protection of Rights Without Borders


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