In a presentation at the Centre for Human Rights, the European Union (EU) Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, who is in South Africa for the first EU/SA human rights dialgoue, highlighted key issues in the EU's foreign policy.

Mr Lambrinidis highlighted that the EU recently took the step to make human rights the cornerstone of its foreign policy. This focus on human rights also led to the creation of the office of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

Mr Lambrinidis identified challenges facing human rights in many parts of the world such as shrinking space of civil society, attacks on the universality of human rights (such as some countries arguing at the Commission on the Status of Women meeting earlier this year to consider violence against women less severe if it was culturally acceptable in the community). Mr Lambrinidis noted that human rights is the 'universal language of the powerless against the cultural relativism of the powerful'. Mr Lambrinidis said that the EU is increasingly also focusing on economic, social and cultural rights using rights language even though the promotion of these right have been high on the agenda for many years as illustrated for example by the EU being the biggest donor for development in the world.


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