The Council defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. Together with the European Parliament it holds the legislative and budgetary power of the EU.
The Council develops the common foreign and security policy, including policies on development cooperation, human rights and trade. In 2012, the Council adopted a comprehensive human rights package and a new development policy – the Agenda for Change.
IDSN continues to call upon the Council to develop policy guidance and adopt a decision on how to deal with caste discrimination. An EU policy on caste discrimination as part of EU foreign/human rights policy would provide necessary guidance for EU action in the UN on the topic and ensure coherence in dealing with this human rights issue, as well as set out comprehensive policy measures for cooperation in development and humanitarian assistance, as well as in trade relations and business cooperation.
The IDSN specific recommendations to the EU are framed in the IDSN Appeal (2012) to European Parliament, the Commission, the EEAS and the Council. The document reflects IDSN’s concern that the EU should systematically address caste-related human rights violations and poverty issues at all levels of operation and policy making.
IDSN recommends that the EU includes caste as a ground of discrimination, alongside other forms of discrimination, to be pursued under EU policies to fight discrimination and addressed in cross-cutting thematic programmes.
IDSN engages with the Council’s Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM) on the matter. In 2010, IDSN recommendations for a policy framework were presented at a hearing on caste discrimination hosted by COHOM. Read the paper here: Towards an EU Policy Framework for the elimination of caste discrimination.
Whereas the European Parliament for several years has raised its concerns on caste discrimination and given recommendations for EU action, the EU in its official communications and policies continues to ignore the plight of 260 million people suffering from one of the most inhuman and denigrating forms of discrimination.
IDSN would welcome recognition of caste discrimination as a critical human rights concern in future EU Annual Human Rights Reports, Annual Report Developments, Council statements, resolutions and declarations and other official communications on human rights. IDSN would also welcome provisions in relevant legislation on EU instruments such as EIDHR and the Development Corporation Instrument.
An EU study entitled “Discrimination and Development Assistance” from 2010 on EU action to combatting discrimination against marginalized groups did not have any reference to caste discrimination, though it pointed to a need to give further attention to (other) marginalized groups and included country reviews of India and Bangladesh.
IDSN lobbies for the development of a future inclusive policy in the EU, based on a comprehensive analysis of who suffer (most) from discrimination, exclusion and related human rights violations, drawing also on UN references on the matter.