Protecting human rights – worldwide

Central areas of activity of German human rights policy. An overview.

German human rights policy pursues the concrete obligation to protect people against violations of their rights and basic freedoms. An overview of the key areas of German 
human rights policy:

Protection of the defenders of human rights

Whether journalists, judges or employees of nongovernmental organizations, people in many countries actively campaign for specific rights or groups within society. The global 
realization of human rights would be inconceivable without their often extremely dangerous effort. Germany supports the work of defenders of human rights by funding projects, providing financial support or protecting them by diplomatic means.

Campaign against capital punishment

Germany regards the right to life as a most precious good. The Federal Government and its partners in the European Union conduct 
an active policy against capital punishment. The goal is not only to prevent the execution of the death penalty in individual cases, but also to work towards the suspension or abolition of capital punishment in individual countries. Within the United Nations (UN) framework, Germany has contributed to a resolution on the suspension of capital punishment.

Protection against discrimination

Germany works closely with the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Key areas are the effort for equal rights, the protection of women and children in armed conflicts, support for people with disabilities and the campaign against gender discrimination.

Fight against human trafficking

Germany is particularly active in the fight against these massive human rights violations that can be compared with a modern form of slavery and infringe fundamental freedoms. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons is based upon a German initiative. In the Human Rights Council, Germany collaborates closely with the Philippines on this issue.

No impunity from prosecution

Germany is a committed supporter of an 
international criminal justice system to punish genocide, war crimes and other serious human rights violations. Germany is one of the most important contributors to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Combating torture

Germany attaches great importance to the worldwide abolition of torture and campaigns for all states to become signatories of the 
UN Convention against Torture and Other 
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Protection of freedom of religion or belief

Germany supports the right of every human being to be able to freely choose and fully exercise his or her religious convictions or world view. Together with its European Union partners, Germany’s Federal Government is campaigning for the protection and promotion of the freedom of religion or belief within the framework of bilateral political dialogue with third states. A German, Professor Heiner 
Bielefeldt, has held the office of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or 
Belief since 2010.

Strengthening children’s rights

Germany places special emphasis on protecting children and young people not only against violence, sexual attacks and sexual exploitation, but also against poverty. Within the UN framework, the focus lies on the protection of children in armed conflicts and the deployment of child soldiers. In July 2011, on German initiative, a resolution was passed in the UN Security Council outlawing attacks on schools and hospitals.

The right to safe drinking water

In partnership with Spain, Germany has long campaigned for the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. Thanks to this initiat­ive, Catarina de Albuquerque was appointed as the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2008. Since the recognition of this right by the UN General Assembly in July 2010 Germany has actively supported its implementation. With the Blue Group, it has also founded a circle of supporters that campaign to create suitable framework conditions, rules and investments to improve the provision of water and sanitation.

The right to housing

In the face of global migration and the formation of slums, the right to adequate housing is one of the basic prerequisites for dignified 
human life. Germany argues for the adoption of universal housing standards in the Human Rights Council and against forced resettlement that is a violation of human rights. Support is also being given to a mandate for a 
UN Special Rapporteur on this subject.