The Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global NGO, noted this weakness in implementation of human rights laws. "The development of norms has not been matched by effective means for their implementation." (Hicks, 2007) Implementation is further blocked by the current thinking that
protection worldwide, and the threat to human rights continues to grow." (Hicks, 2007) Amnesty International also believes that today, "human rights are not only a promise unfulfilled, they are a promise betrayed." Amnesty International was referring specifically to attempts by various States to justify or conceal their violations of the absolute ban on torture, to the tragedy of Darfur, the failure to stop extreme and widespread violence against women, and the failure to pursue the people's economic, political and social rights (as embodied in the modest UN Millenium Development Goals).
In the face of such serious challenges, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for UN Member States to rise and assume the role of human rights defenders. Not the US, since HRW believes that the US has compromised itself by human rights violations in its campaign against terrorism and in the war in Iraq (for instance, secret prison camps and ill-treatment and torture of prisoners). Also not Russia or China, since as HRW pointed out, the two countries are themselves major human rights violators, especially the rights of political dissenters.
The Human Rights Watch urged the European Union to assume the role since it is "the world's leading collection of democracies, founded on a
commitment to human rights and the rule of law." At the same time HRW chided the EU, stating that "due in part to structural problems and in part to
a lack of political will, the European Union's underperformance on human rights has left a gaping leadership hole." (Roth, 2007)
EU: Waffling on Human Rights Issues
The EU has made undeniable progress in setting up a European human rights system. Its Charter of Fundamental Rights, adopted in 2002, has defined the comprehensive civil, political, economic and social rights of all European citizens and residents, covering the following concerns: dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizens rights and justice. (Europa)
"Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are core values of the European Union. Embedded in its founding treaty, they have been reinforced by the adoption of a Charter of Fundamental Rights. Respect for human rights is a prerequisite for countries seeking to join the Union and a precondition for countries who have concluded trade and other agreements with it." (European Parliament)
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is empowered to hear cases filed by individuals who believe that their rights were violated