International action to promote human rights

The Netherlands promotes human rights worldwide, together with other countries, through a number of institutions such as the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the Council of Europe.

The UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council oversees compliance by all countries with international human rights conventions. Every four and a half years it subjects each country to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process that examines the extent to which human rights are being observed. Human rights are also a major topic of discussion in the UN Security Council and General Assembly. The central axis of the UN human rights system is the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The EU and human rights

The EU actively promotes and defends human rights, both within its own borders and in its relations with countries outside the EU. Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are fundamental EU values. Countries that seek to join the Union must respect human rights. All EU trade and association agreements with non-EU countries include a clause providing that human rights are essential elements of the relationship.

The EU supports organisations that work to eliminate the death penalty, torture and discrimination. The EU Special Representative for Human Rights is responsible for this and other human rights activities.

European Convention on Human Rights

The Council of Europe ensures its member states’ compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Support for international tribunals

The Netherlands supports international tribunals like the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Netherlands seeks in this way to ensure that genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity do not go unpunished. The Hague is the ICC’s host city. The Netherlands is also working to secure international recognition of the ICC’s jurisdiction by promoting ratification of the Rome Statute.