The Federal Government is committed to the global protection of human rights. The new Human Rights Report of the Federal Government gives specific examples of its efforts over the last three years, and was adopted by the Cabinet on 16 July.

The Report describes the issues to which Germany committed itself at international level and the measures taken in Germany to fulfil its international obligations.

Focus on Germany's EU and G8 Presidencies

The main external vehicle for Germany's human rights policy is the EU. In 2007 Germany held the Presidencies of the EU (during the first half-year) and the G8 (for the whole year).

The EU themes form the centrepiece of the section on "Key points of German policy in the field of human rights".

During the German EU Presidency, for example, the following agreements were reached:

  • the initiative to draw up EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child,
  • the decision, as part of the EU Strategy on Central Asia, to establish human rights dialogues with the Central Asian countries, and
  • the "Declaration on the Rule of Law" adopted by the G8 Foreign Ministers on 30 May            2007.

The UN Human Rights Council

The institutions and instruments created by the international community are of major significance to international human rights protection. The most important development in recent years was the dissolution, in 2006, of the UN Commission on Human Rights and the creation of the UN Human Rights Council. This move took place because of critique that the old Commission was not effective enough in protecting human rights. Germany, too, worked intensively towards the creation of the HRC.

An initial stocktaking of the HRC's work must surely praise its ability to permanently address the issue of human rights within the UN framework. The themes dealt with by the HRC normally receive a high level of attention both within and outside the Council. However, the Federal Government is highly aware that the HRC has recently demonstrated a tendency to form voting blocks.

Human rights in individual countries

A comprehensive section contains brief profiles of the human rights situation in 70 countries from all regions of the world. In addition, with a focus on "Female genital mutilation worldwide", the Report addresses one of the most serious human rights violations committed against women and girls.

Since 1999 Germany has promoted the supraregional project "Anti Female Genital Mutilation", which is currently being implemented in Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali, Mauretania and Kenya. People in these countries are informed about the negative effects of female genital mutilation, and attempts are made to persuade them to abandon this practice. The target groups are the girls and women concerned, their parents and (future) partners, local dignitaries and religious leaders who can influence the decision, as well as those who actually carry out mutilation.

The Report ends with the "Plan of Action for Human Rights" drawn up by the Federal Government for the period 2008-2010.

The Federal Foreign Office supervised the elaboration of the "Eighth Report of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on its Human Rights Policy in the Context of Foreign Relations and other Areas of National Policy".

Last updated 17.07.2008

Bärbel Kofler

Commissioner for Human Rights Policy

Bärbel Kofler is the Federal Government's Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid.

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