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NGO Letter of Support for a Targeted, Global EU Human Rights Sanctions Regime

05 December 2018

Dear Ministers of Foreign Affairs,

We, the 90 undersigned organizations dedicated to the promotion of universal human rights and/or the fight against corruption, write to voice our strong support for the Foreign Affairs Council to initiate a process aimed at establishing an EU-wide program for the imposition of targeted sanctions on individuals and entities deemed responsible for serious human rights violations. Noting that the Foreign Affairs Council will take up this matter on December 10, 2018—the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—we urge all state representatives to honor the Declaration by supporting action on such a sanctions regime, and, in so doing, beginning the process of providing the EU with an additional, critical tool to combat impunity and defend human rights worldwide.

Today more than ever, we recognize that the promotion and protection of equal and inalienable rights form the basis of justice, peace, and security. Where human rights are violated and corruption is allowed to flourish, individuals are less safe and communities are less stable and secure. With universal human rights and the rule of law under significant challenge globally, now is thus an opportune moment to take an unmistakable step forward in defense of our common values.

As we have seen in countries that have enacted and utilized “Global Magnitsky” sanctions laws to date, a global human rights and anti-corruption sanctions program can serve as a vital addition to the diplomatic and legal toolkit essential to upholding human rights and the rule of law. In a relatively short period of time, governments such as those in the United States and Canada have used their human rights and anticorruption sanctions laws to fight impunity for some of the world’s most heinous crimes in countries from Myanmar to Saudi Arabia. A similar tool will provide the EU with the ability to shine a spotlight on and compel changes of behavior in some of the world’s worst human rights violators. Robust implementation also has the potential to deter would-be kleptocrats and those that would use violence to silence dissent and maintain their grip on power.

We applaud the Dutch government for its demonstrated commitment toward achieving a global human rights sanctions program. We also commend those other EU governments that have voiced their support for this effort and encourage in the strongest terms all other EU member states to likewise support the initiative on December 10.


  • Aditus Foundation
  • American Jewish World Service
  • Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
  • Article 19
  • Association UMDPL Ukraine
  • Boat People SOS
  • Center for Civil Liberties
  • Center for Justice & Accountability
  • Center for Policies and Reforms (Moldova)
  • China Against the Death Penalty
  • China Change
  • China Human Rights Accountability Center
  • Christian Solidarity Worldwide
  • Citizen Power Initiatives for China
  • Citizens’ Watch
  • Clean Clothes Campaign International Office
  • Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam
  • Community
  • Council for Global Equality
  • CrimeaSOS
  • Crude Accountability
  • DRA (Berlin)
  • EarthRights International
  • Estonian American National Council
  • Fair Trials
  • Free Press Unlimited
  • Freedom House
  • Freedom Now
  • Heartland Initiative
  • Helsinki Association Armenia
  • Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vsnadzor
  • Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)
  • Hivos
  • HRM Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan
  • Human Rights Center “Memorial”
  • Human Rights Club (Azerbaijan)
  • Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
  • Human Rights First
  • Human Rights Foundation
  • Human Rights House Zagreb
  • Human Rights Matter
  • Human Rights Monitoring Institute
  • Humanitarian China
  • Hungarian Helsinki Committee
  • India Committee of the Netherlands
  • Institute for Development and Social Initiatives
  • Institute for European Policies and Reforms
  • Institute of Public Policies
  • International Campaign for Tibet
  • International Partnership for Human Rights
  • Joint Baltic American National Committee
  • Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
  • Lawyers for Lawyers
  • Legal Resources Centre from Moldova
  • Legal Transformation Center (Belarus)
  • Magnitsky Act Initiative
  • Media Initiative for Human Rights (Ukraine)
  • Mexicanos vs Corrupción e Impunidad
  • National Endowment for Democracy
  • Netherlands Helsinki Committee
  • Norwegian Helsinki Committee
  • Open Dialogue Foundation
  • Pax
  • PEN America
  • Physicians for Human Rights
  • Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta
  • Project Expedite Justice
  • Promo LEX Moldova
  • Protection of Rights Without Borders (Armenia)
  • Public Association “Dignity”
  • Religious Liberty Commission, World Evangelical Alliance
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  • Sova Center
  • The Enough Project
  • The McCain Institute
  • The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
  • The Sentry
  • Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
  • Transparencia Venezuela
  • Transparency International
  • Transparency International Moldova
  • Truth Hounds
  • Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
  • VETO! Human Rights Defenders Network
  • Vietnam Coalition Against Torture
  • Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
  • World Organisation Against Torture
  • Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit


You can download the letter here