This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on human rights and democracy

On 18 September, Marietje Schaake spoke in the plenary meeting about human rights and democracy in the world. Marietje Schaake (ALDE). Madam President, the number of people whose human rights are violated in one way or another is overwhelming. Many of them look to us for help and support and we must offer what we can. But underlying the many different forms of violation – from rape and torture to censorship and discrimination – is a wave that is swelling, an increasingly successful challenge to the very principles that define us and that we are defending globally. The universality of human rights itself has perhaps never been as threatened as it is today. The EU is in a great position to lead an unequivocal defence of the universality of human rights but we can only lead by example. It puts us to shame and weakens our credibility when, in Europe, Viktor Orban openly pushes illiberal democracy, when minorities face discrimination, when women do not have equal pay, treatment and opportunities, when technology is used for illegitimate surveillance and hacking in Europe or exported to dictators and terrorist organisations which are not curbed, or when the crisis is used as an excuse not to implement corporate social responsibility or trade conditionalities. We can see that the line between internal and external policies is not a sharp one and we are interconnected but if, together, we do not show leadership and strategically leverage our political and economic position, who will defend the universality of human rights?