The EU’s human rights policy

Does the EU deliver on its human rights policy? Johanne D. Saltnes explores the EU’s use of the human rights clause and the legitimacy basis of the Union’s human rights policy in the journal Global Affairs.


Recurrent claims of selective and inconsistent implementation of the European Union’s (EU) human rights clause questions the legitimacy basis of the Union’s human rights policy. If the EU’s actions do not match its rhetoric, it runs the risk of being accused of hypocrisy. This article contributes with novel empirical insights regarding the question of whether the EU delivers on its human rights policy. When assessing the EU’s use of the human rights clause scholarly literature has largely followed rationalist theory arguing that the EU’s foreign policy decisions are driven by economic interest or security considerations. I find that existing studies have used a biased selection of cases. A combination of theoretical assumptions and methodological choices appears to be guiding the selection process. Existing hypotheses are not sought falsified, as they are tested only on a set of cases where ‘interest’ of some sort is already known to exist. I find non-implementation of the clause also in countries where the EU has no such specific ‘interests’. Given these additional cases the account of the EU’s policy must be reconsidered.

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The European Union’s human rights policy: is the EU’s use of the human rights clause inconsistent?
Johanne D. Saltnes

Global Affairs, vol. 4(2-3), pp. 165-177
DOI: 10.1080/23340460.2018.1535251

Open Access (link)

Tags: Human rights, European Union, European integration
Published Nov. 23, 2018 2:02 PM - Last modified Nov. 23, 2018 2:07 PM