Human rights
The commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights is a substantial part of Spain’s foreign policy, a reflection of its importance at a domestic level (legislative framework, institutionally and through public policies), and a demand from Spanish society. Spain is firmly convinced of the need to have an effective multilateral system to protect and promote human rights. Spain already played an active role in the framework of the Human Rights Council, which it will continue to play as a member over the period 2018-2020.

Pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, establishing the Human Rights Council, Spain presented its voluntary undertakings and commitments as a candidate to the Human Rights Council. The document was circulated, at Spain’s request, at the General Assembly at the start of September.

By means of this document, Spain sought to publicise its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and to ensure that this contribution was taken into account and valued at the time of its election as a member of the Council. We consider that the backing of 180 countries in the vote held in New York on 16 October 2017 constitutes recognition of the commitment of Spain’s public powers and society to human rights and an expression of trust in Spain.

Now, as a Council member, it is down to us to put these commitments into practice.

What do we propose to do as a member of the Human Rights Council?

Spain will continue, both nationally and as a member of the European Union (EU), to support the Council, paying close heed to the most serious situations of human rights violations in specific countries through the so-called country resolutions, and to insist on the obligation we all have as States to cooperate with the bodies set up by the Council.

Aside from that, we propose to contribute our knowledge and experience in those areas in which we have a proven track-record and which we can group under three main pillars of action:

• Human dignity and equal human rights for everyone.

Spain will maintain its firm position against the death penalty, pursuing the goal of its universal abolition and, as an intermediate step, the establishment of moratoriums. The rejection of the death penalty is founded, inter alia, on the value of human dignity. Furthermore, in order to enjoy human rights, the protection of individuals from any form of discrimination, including in its most extreme form – violence – is especially important. This pillar includes the fight against racism, xenophobia and other related forms of intolerance, gender equality, non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the rights of people with disabilities.

• Democracy and the rule of law.

Human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interrelated and mutually enhancing. Participation in public affairs is the clearest expression of a democratic regime and recognised as a human right as such. But furthermore, the existence of an effective democracy demands the construction and maintenance of a complex framework of rights and freedoms that individuals can freely exercise. Under this pillar, we will insist that a free and dynamic civil society constitutes an essential element of a democracy that works and we advocate the role of human rights defenders in a year in which we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

• Sustainable development.

Under this pillar, we propose to continue working hard to promote economic, social and cultural rights (including the human rights to drinking water and sanitation as components of an adequate standard of living, the promotion of which Spain has jointly headed up at an international level), and human rights and companies.

How do we want to work as members of the Council?

The fourth pillar of action included in our document of voluntary undertakings and commitments concerns this question under the heading of “dialogue, cooperation and efficacy”.

We want to work to seek to forge agreement through effective dialogue on human rights matters with the aim of strengthening the capacity of member States to comply with their human rights obligations and guarantee their cooperation with Council mechanisms. Dialogue and cooperation are two of the principles which, pursuant to the General Assembly resolution establishing the Council, must guide its work. Dialogue and cooperation are suitable means for preventing human rights violations.

We also aim to work in supporting the participation of civil society stakeholders in meetings of the Human Rights Council. Spain will continue to report those cases in which representatives of civil society suffer threats and reprisals in the protection of human rights defenders.

  • Spain, on the United Nations Human Rights Council

    On 1 January 2018, Spain began its mandate as a member of the Human Right Council for the period 2018-2020, having being elected at the United Nations General Assembly at the meeting held in New York. This is the second time that Spain has been a member of the Council, after its first mandate from 2011 to 2013.

  • Spain’s priorities
    Spain is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. Spain’s legal system offers extensive protection for fundamental rights and freedoms which are interpreted in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international treaties and agreements that Spain has ratified on the matter. These same human rights treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union form part of the domestic legal system and complement the list of rights and freedoms contained in the Spanish Constitution.

    Liberty, justice and peace are founded on respect for dignity and the inalienable rights of all people. Spain wishes to contribute in its own right and as a member of the European Union to a freer, fairer world that lives in peace. The defence of human rights thus constitutes one of its foreign action priorities.

    This policy is implemented through the following five priority areas: the fight against the death penalty; non-discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation; the rights of people with disabilities; the human rights to drinking water and sanitation; companies and human rights, and the protection of human rights defenders.
  • Human rights around the world

    Millions of people demand respect for human rights each day, as recognised in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At present, they are violated by governments that deprive citizens of their liberty without a trial, imprison journalists and prevent the holding of free and fair elections.

  • Election observation
    Multiple democratisation processes that began in many parts of the world some decades ago have led to increasing demand for International Election Observation Missions.
  • Universal Periodic Review
    The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism of the Human Rights Council by virtue of which all Member States of the United Nations submit themselves, roughly every five years, to a review by the other States of their commitments, achievements and pending challenges on human rights matters. All Member States of the United Nations accept this procedure, which strengthens the universal nature of the exercise.

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