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Human Rights

Spain is a country deeply committed to human rights. Their protection and promotion form one of the priority pillars of our foreign policy. Liberty, justice and peace are founded on respect for dignity and the inalienable rights of all people. Spain wishes to contribute to a freer, fairer world in peace.

Spain has been a member of the Human Rights Council on two occasions, from 2011 to 2013 and from 2018 to 2020. Spain has recently presented its candidacy to the HRC for the period 2025-2027. During its mandates, Spain has specifically promoted those areas in which its experience enables it to contribute added value to the Council’s work, including the fight against the death penalty.

Hundreds of people are executed around the world each year in application of the death penalty in all circumstances and regardless of the crime committed. In 2010, the International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) was set up, with headquarters in Madrid and comprised of 20 independent figures from all regions of the world. Spain, together with the European Union and the International Commission, seeks to persuade other countries to reduce the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty, commute death penalty sentences and reform laws so that judges have an alternative to impose sentences that deprive those convicted of their liberty instead of the death penalty, thus moving towards its ultimate abolition. As an intermediate step towards the complete abolition of the death penalty and faced with the existence of cultural, religious and legal barriers that prevent this, Spain promotes the promulgation of de facto or de jure moratoria with the aim of the death penalty not being applied.

José Manuel Albares, at the Palace of Nations in Geneva, during his speech before the Human Rights Council in November 2021. Photo: NOLSOM-MAEC

Another priority identified by Spain is the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities. It advocates the focus of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), the adoption of which amounted to a paradigm shift in this field, by recognising persons with disabilities as genuine holders of rights.

The fight for gender equality is another of the priorities of Spain’s foreign policy. Spain is a very active participant in the European Union and in the United Nations system in establishing policies and creating instruments to fight discrimination on grounds of gender and the defence of the rights of women and girls.

Recognition of the right to drinking water and sanitation has become another of the main priorities of Spain’s foreign policy on human rights and development cooperation. In 2006, Spain and Germany undertook a joint initiative to promote the recognition of this right through the United Nations, considering that the right to drinking water and sanitation is essential for the performance of other human rights and is an essential component of the right to an adequate standard of living, as contained in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, together with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, during his visit to the temporary shelters for Afghan refugees at Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base (Madrid)​, in August 2021​. Photo: Moncloa

The fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender equality is key for Spain. In recent years, our country has promoted a host of actions to advocate the rights of LGBTI persons at different multilateral forums, such as its support for the United Nations mandate on protection from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, adhesion to the Equal Rights Coalition Founding Principles, membership of the United Nations LGBT Core Group, the application of the European Union guidelines on the rights of LGBTI persons and participation in the LGBTI Focal Points Network of the Council of Europe.​


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