Human rights concepts in EU Human Rights Dialogues

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Majtényi, Balázs
Sosa, Lorena
Timmer, Alexandra
Jain, Rajendra K.
Caycho, Renato Constantino
Marinelli, Chiara
Gunn, Jeremy
Lacuesta, Alvaro
Benjelloun, Sara
Killander, Magnus
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This report presents five case studies on EU Human Rights Dialogues (HRDs). The case studies concern the HRDs with the African Union, China, India, Morocco and Peru. Building on the findings of the previous reports in Work Package 3 of the FRAME project, the aim of this report is to explore how domestic and organisation-based conceptions of human rights, democracy and rule of law emerge in HRDs and what consequences these conceptions entails for the HRDs’ goals. The report starts with a description of the methodology used (Chapter II). Next, Chapter III puts HRDs in context by examining their institutional setting. The Chapter specifically focuses on three key issues: respect for sovereignty and the equality of participants; transparency; and the priorities of the dialogues. Chapter IV is dedicated to the case studies. The Chapter is divided in two parts: the first part focuses on General Human Rights Dialogues and the second on Formal Human Rights Dialogues. General HRD’s are Dialogues of a general nature based on regional or bilateral treaties, agreements or conventions or strategic partnerships dealing systematically with the issue of human rights. The first case study in this category concerns India. This is an elaborate study. It fills a gap in the scholarly literature since the EU- India HRD has so far been little researched. One of the main difficulties that the case study highlights with the HRD is that the EU is conditioned by an essentially Eurocentric world-view about India. The next case study in this first part of the Chapter concerns Peru. The research shows that although the EU’s conceptions of human rights differ in some respects from the Peruvian, the Dialogue has been productive. The last case study in the part of General HRD’s concerns European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), more specifically Morocco. This too is an elaborate case study which presents a much-needed addition to the academic literature. It details the institutional setting of the dialogue and describes to what extent diverging conceptions of human rights appear in the dialogue, and what the sensitive issues are in this respect. Despite the conceptual differences, this is probably the most successful dialogue of the ones analysed in this report. The second part of the Chapter, the part on Formal HRDs, starts with a brief case study on the African Union. In this dialogue there are real points of contention between the two partners, such as the views on the International Criminal Court and concerning the issue of migration. The case study raises the asymmetry of the bilateral relation rooted in the colonial past. It closes with a brief case study on the HRD with China. It highlights that the EU and China conceptualise human rights, democracy and rule of law differently. These differences are emphasised often by the Chinese. Guarding its national sovereignty, China is cautious about the suggestions made by other powers. In Chapter V the reports concludes with discussing how the institutional settings of the Dialogues impacts their content. It then reflects on key overarching topics, namely state sovereignty; the critique of double standards; universality and cultural diversity; indivisibility; when conceptions patter; and the politicisation of conceptual differences. It closes with some suggestions on how the HRD’s could be strengthened.