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Foreign Policy

International human rights policy tools

Germany is creating its own tools and supporting international institutions with the aim of protecting and defending human rights worldwide.
Instrumente der internationalen Menschenrechtspolitik
© dpa

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Bärbel Kofler, is based in the Federal Foreign Office. She observes international developments, coordinates human rights activities with other state bodies, and advises the Federal Foreign Minister.

The German parliament, the Bundestag, has accompanied and monitored German human rights policy since 1998 through its Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid. The committee members comprise 17 delegates from all parties and its tools include public hearings, official “declarations by the committee” and the programme known as “Parlamentarier schützen Parlamentarier” (“MPs protect MPs”), which establishes direct patronage of persecuted democrats in other countries. The committee informs members of parliament about the situation in host countries before they travel and gives them notes on which people need help there.

In 2000, the German Institute for Human Rights, a state-funded but independent body, was established in Berlin. As a national human rights institution as defined in the UN’s Paris Principles, it is intended to help the promotion and protection of human rights by Germany at home and abroad.

Germany supports international courts

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, France is one of the European Council’s main institutions for enforcing human rights in Europe. Each and every citizen of the 47 member states of the European Council can resort directly to the ECtHR with complaints concerning a violation of rights protected by the European Human Rights Convention.

Germany emphatically advocates that all member states of the European Council accept and implement the decisions of the ECtHR. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands, is responsible for the prosecution under international criminal law of serious international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Germany is in favour of universal recognition of the ECtHR.