“Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” Article 1 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is not restricted to Germany. It also includes a mandate for German foreign policy to foster and protect human rights all over the world.
In the Human Rights Report 2016, the German Government describes its work at home and abroad to protect human rights. The report also presents the most important global developments in human rights policy. This year’s report focuses on civil society.
Civil societies worldwide are under pressure
In many cases, NGOs draw attention to problems and give marginalised people a voice. An alarming trend can be seen in large parts of the world – more and more governments are trying to limit the scope of civil-society organisations, at times to a significant extent.
Regulations that often look like abstract formalities can massively curtail NGOs’ working methods and financing options. Representatives of civil society who work on behalf of human rights are often intimidated or falsely accused. Germany raises problematic developments of this type directly with the countries involved. At the same time, the Federal Foreign Office supports human rights activists who are in difficult situations and promotes civil-society organisations, for example via training and exchange programmes.
Working worldwide to foster human rights
Using a range of foreign policy instruments, Germany works worldwide to protect human rights. Along with its European partners, it conducts regular human rights dialogues with some 40 non-EU member states. Diplomacy has a wide range of political measures, including confidential talks, public criticism or even economic or trade sanctions, that it can use to foster and protect human rights all over the world. In order to act as effectively as possible, Germany works closely with its European partners and makes extensive use of the structures and formats provided by the United Nations.
The German Government’s twelfth Human Rights Report provides detailed information on the individual fields of action as regards topics and regions, as well as on achievements and challenges. The full report can be downloaded here: