This book analyses the relationship between human rights and foreign policy. It focuses on the integration of human rights in foreign policy-making in the case of the EU and its member states. The argument posited here is that beliefs and ideas influence policy outcome or, more specifically, that the idea of human rights influences the policy outcomes of the EU and its Member States in their external relations. It is argued that the inclusion of human rights considerations in the EU's relations with third countries falls within the evolution taking place at the global level regarding the adoption of basic human rights standards in international and regional instruments and organisations.
Furthermore, it constitutes an expression of the common values of its Member States; it is perceived as the reflection of the democratic norms of the European security community and as part of its wider project to promote co-operation and integration in order to move closer towards stability, security and a democratic peace between like-minded states.
Finally, it is put forward that the EU's policies promoting human rights have developed, in spite of numerous challenges and shortcomings, largely because of the contribution of the EU institutions. The EU institutions have enabled the adoption of common positions promoting the respect of human rights between the Member States by providing narratives of mutual identification and by making possible the execution of joint actions. They have initiated human rights policies and have elaborated innovative projects, thus challenging traditional state-centric approaches to foreign policy-making. EU institutions have established formal and informal networks with non-state actors; as a result, these have influenced the direction, the objectives and the choice of instruments of the EU's human rights policies.
The conjunction of these elements, it is argued, has further influenced the Member States' understanding and perception of their interests, which in turn has been reflected in the institutionalised, committed and increasingly determined promotion of human rights in their external relations.