French President Emmanuel Macron should ensure as he begins his second term, that his administration is effective in placing human rights at the center of their policies, both at home and abroad, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the president. Human Rights Watch included an agenda detailing recommendations on human rights priorities for the re-elected president.
“President Macron acknowledged in his inaugural speech his ‘awareness of the gravity’ of the current challenges for France, Europe, and the rest of the world and his willingness not to make his second term a continuation of the first,” said Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch. “To back those words with action, Macron and his government should make human rights a meaningful and concrete priority of France's national and international policies over the next five years.”
There are growing concerns in France about economic and social uncertainty and inequalities and mistrust of political leaders’ ability to provide adequate responses. So it is more important than ever for President Macron and his government to adopt a rights-based strategy to tackle exclusion and socioeconomic injustices more vigorously, to insure that everyone’s rights are protected, and to eliminate discrimination.
The international context and major global challenges should also push President Macron to place human rights at the heart of French diplomacy. These challenges include the overt contempt for human rights from governments in many regions of the world, including among the autocrats who have increased in power in Europe and elsewhere, the war in Ukraine and other conflicts marred by grave violations against civilians, climate change, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people.
During President Macron's first term, the credibility of France's human rights diplomacy was weakened by its selectivity. France proclaimed its commitment to international human rights and humanitarian law and responded forcefully to some situations of grave violations such as in Ukraine, Belarus, or Syria, but continued its unconditional support and arms sales to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates despite their dismal rights records. President Macron should anchor French diplomacy in promoting and respecting human rights, regardless of France's strategic and economic interests, Human Rights Watch said.
The Human Rights Agenda sent to President Macron details a series of recommendations on 14 themes. It includes sections on the protection of economic and social rights in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic; the strengthening of the rule of law including in counterterrorism policies; the right to equal treatment by the police; respect for the rights of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers; and the promotion of women's rights in France and abroad. The document also addresses the need to repatriate French citizens, including children and their mothers arbitrarily detained in northeastern Syria; the right to a clean, healthy, and safe environment; and the protection of the rule of law and the rights of refugees and asylum seekers within the European Union. It addresses the need for France to defend human rights in multilateral international forums and in its bilateral relations; to protect human rights during the deployment of French troops abroad; and to support international justice; and corporate accountability for human rights or environmental violations in global supply chains.
“President Macron's second term is an opportunity to make human rights a genuine priority in his national and international policy,” Jeannerod said. "Human Rights Watch’s agenda shows the way forward for the president and his government on key rights issues for these next five years. We are counting on them to act on it.”