Zolkos, M. (2004). Bringing Human Rights in the Enlargement Politics: the EU as a Human Rights Promoter in the Central Eastern Europe. Středoevropské politické studie, 6(2–3). Získáno z https://journals.muni.cz/cepsr/article/view/4044/5283
Magdalena Żółkoś, Ph

Bringing Human Rights in the Enlargement Politics: the EU as a Human Rights Promoter in the Central Eastern Europe

 

Magdalena Zolkos

 

Abstract

Recently, there has been a spate of interest in the developments of human rights policy of the European Union in the context of its Eastern enlargement. Inclusion of human rights issues in the political conditionality for the enlargement in the so-called Copenhagen Criteria was accompanied by the strong interest on the side of the EU in human rights problems in the post-communist countries. The developments signified possible emergence of the 'new human rights approach' of the EU, which would be characterized by (i) a high degree of 'conditionality', and (ii) the proliferation and complexity of requirements. This article studies the transformative effect of international norms on the domestic structures in the context of the fifth enlargement of the EU. As an analytical tool, it introduces the concept of 'post-communism' and tries to define what the post-communist context of human rights means. The aim of this article is thus to contextualize the compound issue of human rights within the wider framework of the post-communist transformational order, and, subsequently, to investigate the suitability of the EU 'new human rights approach' when addressing these problems. Through the juxtaposition of how human rights issues were tackled in EU’s Regular Reports on Poland ad on Estonia, this article puts forth a tentative hypothesis that the EU has become a powerful and ambitious, but continuously rather ambivalent human rights actor in Central Eastern Europe.

 

Keywords

EU Human Rights Regime, Eastern Enlargement, Copenhagen Criteria, Conditionality, Post-communism, Norm-socialization

 

 


Introduction[1]

The end of the socialist era in the Central Eastern Europe (hence CEE) brought about the subsequent inclusion of countries from that region into the Euro-Atlantic framework of political and economic co-operation. In the context of the European Union (hence EU) this have necessitated, inter alia, the re-definition of its role as a promoter of democratic and human rights order within and outside its borders. Indeed, the degree to which these (internal and external) dimensions have become linked is illustrated by EU human rights policy towards its future members expressed through the so-called Copenhagen Criteria, which were originally designed for the purpose of avoiding incorporation of some serious human rights problems existing in the post-communist states into the EU.

This article studies the human rights aspects of EU norm-promotion in CEE in order to distinguish and characterise EU’s novel human rights identity. It understands this identity as ‘hegemonic’ in the sense that the EU displays an unparalleled power of attraction for the CEE countries, which allows it to constitute and impose a normative framework of human rights regime. In addition, this article asserts that in the context of the fifth enlargement EU has demonstrated growing ambitions and dedication to realise such regional human rights project through (i) the increasing degree of human rights conditionality, as well as (ii) specification of requirements.

This article analyses the transformative effect of the EU human rights norms on the domestic structures of its upcoming members with a particular focus on Poland ad Estonia. The assumption is that any analysis of EU’s hegemonic human rights role located within the enlargement context must take under consideration the particular post-communist perspective on human rights situation in that region. The main question that this article poses, therefore, is to what degree and with what success the EU has actually recognised that post-communist specificity in its human rights enlargement politics. Subsequently, the assumption is that in order to give a politically credible picture of these policies one needs to look at them as a dynamic and two-sided learning process, rather than as a singular and static event. This necessitates two further questions, namely (i) what the EU has learnt from this process, and (ii) how this is going to affect its human rights identity in terms of further inclinations and long-term developments.

This article proceeds as follows. Firstly, it elucidates two main conceptions of post-communism (as a ‘triple transition’ and as a ‘weakened network state’), as well as introduces a valid distinction between the ‘universal’ and ‘specific’ post-communism. Secondly, it employs these conceptions to picture the specific post-communist human rights dilemmas and dynamics. Thirdly, it studies the characteristics of EU’s hegemonic human rights identity in relations with its upcoming Eastern members (the case of Poland and Estonia) and analyses to what extent and how the EU has addressed the post-communist human rights particularity.   

 

1. The Meanings of Post-communism

This paper takes its point of departure in a wide and negative concept of post-communism, which it defines as an end of a specific (socialist) metanarrative, and the consequently termination of the socio-politico-economic reality that it had installed. In this sense, it signifies death of a certain ideological hegemony and a shift towards ‘a more open and ‘discursive’ type of politics’ (Sakwa 1999: 1). Hence, post-communism is regarded as a negative conception because it understands itself through the termination of its past, a certain sense of demise, or, as Stroehlein puts it (1999), through ‘what preceded it rather than by what it actually is’. It is hard to capture its emergent reality in affirmative terms not only due to its complex, multidirectional, heterogeneous and indeterminate dynamics, but also because it is a transient ‘dissolution of order’ (Szakolczai 1992: 16) that arguably has to yet to give rise to more stable course of developments.

Sakwa (1999: 3) distinguishes between two main ‘types’ of post-communism: specific and universal, where the former stands for the state of transitions of the former communist countries, and the latter represents more wide-ranging (global and regional) consequences of the dissolution of the binary world order. This article spans these two perspectives in that it presents changes in human rights in both contexts, but also in that it constructs a bridge between them and points at their co-relations. It is so because, on the one hand, the EU enlargement and the development of EU human rights identity in particular have been directly stipulated by the universal post-communism, and, on the other, the responses of the accession countries, their ability and will to succumb to the political and economic conditionality, as well as to the human rights requirements, are deeply contextualized within the dynamics of the specific post-communism. In this sense, this paper locates itself in-between these two dimensions of post-communism and demonstrates their factual interconnectedness.

The focus of this chapter is on two particular modes of conceptualization of the post-communist condition. The first one is based on the notion of ‘triple transition’ and presents the dynamics of post-communism as challenging for and sometimes even antagonistic to the human rights development in the former communist countries. The second one contemplates the particularity of the post-communist state, i.e. its simultaneous reconstitution (and popular legitimization) and its partial attrition. Though many other perspectives are possible these two were chosen because they bring up issues crucial for the debate of contemporary human rights, i.e. the sequences of their development (otherwise phrased as the dilemma of prioritization within the category of human rights) and legitimate actorness.    

Post-communism has been repeatedly conceptualized in terms of the simultaneity of its transition processes. The claim has often been that this is its supposedly most distinctive characteristic across the whole former communist region regardless of systemic political and economic differences, past experiences, or forms of ‘revolution’, etc. This ‘simultaneity’ has been famously phrased by Claus Offe as a ‘triple transition’ (1997) where the three constitutive elements are: (i) transformation from ‘state-operated economy [into] economy based on property rights and market prices’; (ii) transformation from ‘party-monopolistic authoritarianism [into] liberal democracy’; and (iii) ‘reconstruction of new and independent states’ (Offe 2001: 168).[2] Jakobsen (1999) emphasizes that these three elements can be in fact understood in terms of three different meanings of communism and its demise. Communism is thus perceived as (i) an economic regime; (ii) the political ideology and system of governance and (iii) the general structure of the region (with the Soviet Union as the centre and the republics and the quasi-autonomous states remaining within its sphere of influence). In the course of the initiated reforms, the communist system is being superseded by economical transformations, democratization and nation-building processes, respectively.     

Significant from the perspective of human rights development is that the ‘triple transition’ challenges the modernist view on sequence of reformist and evolutionary changes deeply entrenched in the Western idea of progress in that it is based on exactly antithetic paradigm of political change: rapid, radical, revolutionary and simultaneous. Ralf Dahrendorf (qtd. in Sakwa 1999: 39) has referred to this phenomenon as ‘dilemma of the three clocks’ where

 

”In ‘the hour of the lawyer’ the constitutional and political framework is established during the course of several months; in ‘the hour of the economist’ the rudiments of a market economy are built in a process that may take five or six years; and finally, in ‘the hour of the citizen’ the social impulses of civil society are regenerated in the course of a process that will inevitably take decades” (Sakwa 1999: 39-40).[3]

 

In other words, the post-communist transformations are, with different intensity, taking place simultaneously, but are not necessarily harmonious or mutually supportive. On the contrary, the past decade has proved the emergence of different tensions between them, clashes of their conflicting logics and even cases of mutual subversions. In addition, there is a great external anticipation of the intensity and short time-duration of the reforms.

The second aspect in focus of this paper is the issue of the post-communist state. With the end of the communist authoritarianism it has gained prospects to become an authentic ‘people’s democracy’, and draw its legitimacy and its ‘strength’ from the rule of law, respect for civic and human rights, functioning democratic mechanisms and accountability. Paradoxically, the opposite is often the case and the post-communist state has been substantially ‘weakened’, meaning its democratic performance, procedural flows and certain systemic impotency. For Staniszkis (2001) post-communism is a process in which ‘diverse interconnections and conflicting interests [come together], and which gives rise to three mechanisms – initiated by political decisions, but […] increasingly more autonomous and beyond state control’ (Staniszkis 2001: 90, author’s translation).[4] The mechanisms that generate post-communism include regionalization, globalization, and commercialization of the public capital. Even though they are rather loosely related, they are having similar effect on the potency and management abilities of the post-communist state, as they all bring about certain degree of frailty and vulnerability to its structures.

For Staniszkis the post-communist state is grounded on the opposite idea of politics to the one that socialism represented. The communist state was labelled as ‘power without politics’ in the sense that in spite of the enormous ascendancy that the party-controlled state enjoyed, politics (as governance based on conciliation (Zuzowski 1992: 8)) were almost entirely absent from the decision-making process. In contract, the post-communist state represented ‘politics without power’ (2001: 95), which means that the primary sources of the former were located beyond the domain of democratic control. In the post-communist state

 

”political decisions initiate certain course of events, but they don’t control it and have little bearing on its final result (oftentimes other than the intended one). Moreover, the ‘structural power’ (i.e. the power to decide on the rules of the game during the transition period) remains to a large degree beyond the sphere of democratic institutions” (Staniszkis 2001: 95, author’s translation).

 

This dilemma of the post-communist relocation of some aspects of the decision-making power beyond the sphere of politics invokes another post-Cold War phenomenon (in the ‘universal sense’), namely the crisis of the centralized ‘state of authority’ and the emergence of a multi-centred ‘network state’ (Staniszkis 2001: 94). This ‘network state’ has three main underlying dynamics of (i) segmentation and decentralization of power, (ii) governance redefined into terms of ‘management’ and ‘supervision’, and (iii) obscured borders between the domains of politics, economy and society. Said otherwise, the post-communist state (obviously to varying degree in different parts of the former communist region) is characterized by a governmental fragility, which demonstrates itself through, inter alia, ‘difficulty in collecting taxes and imposing the rule of law’ (Sakwa 1999: 52). In the extreme cases, post-communism has brought about the surfacing of quasi-state entities (termed also as ‘failing states’).

 

2. Human Rights in the Post-communist Perspective

In the context of the characteristics of the universal and specific post-communist put forth above, the question is how they determine changes in the international human rights regime, and, more specifically, the altered patterns of human rights violations and the required protection mechanisms in the former communist countries.

As regards the universal post-communism, this article recognizes two main idiosyncrasies, which either emerged or became drastically intensified in the post-Cold War times. First is the inclusion of new issues in the human rights code, i.e. increasing problematization of political, social, economic and cultural issues as entitlements for every human being. This tendency has been also known as development of different ‘generations’ of human rights, for instance the so-called 3rd ad 4th generation of collective and solidarity rights (Campignoni 2002).

Second, there has been the evolution of alternative systems of human rights protection. According to Galtung (1994), the traditional triad of human rights protection includes the global level of norm-senders (UN bodies), state level of norm-receivers and individual level of norm-subjects. In this context, the universal post-communism has brought development of alternative norm-triads which include a number of different combinations and which join various actors and levels of rights protection. As regards norm-senders novel human rights actors included intergovernmental (and possibly supranational) forms of cooperation within regions (EU), as well as non-governmental (NGOs) or entrepreneurial (multinational corporations). On the level of norm-receivers, the conception of rights’ perpetrators has been redefined. The responsibility for rights infringements has been thus extended beyond the state actors to include, for instance, collective actors such as multinational corporations, or quasi-non-state actors such as the trans-border crime networks and terrorist organizations). And finally, with the recent debates on minority rights (ethnic, sexual, etc.), individuals citizens are no longer the sole norm-subjects.

As regards the connection between the specific post-communism and post-Cold War changes in human rights, one needs to point out human rights development as yet anther dynamic in the ‘triple transition’ process. The variety of novel developments, conflicting processes, their intensity and short duration has greatly affected human rights situation in the former communist countries. Dynamics of that change can be presented in the following way:

 

Table I. Changes in human rights brought about by the ‘triple transition’ processes.

Mode of transition

Some of the accompanying processes

Rights brought in focus

Necessitated level of protection

Vulnerable holders

Economic transformations

Economic and social problems, increased societal stratification

Economic and social rights

Legal, Institutional, Implementation

Social and ethnic minorities, elderly, women

Democratization

Various distortions, danger of exclusion, passive citizenship, etc.

Civic and political rights

Legal, Institutional, Implementation

Ethnic minorities

State- / Nation-building

Problems related to ethnocentrism, ethnic exclusion, exclusive nationalism, etc.

Minority rights (ethnic and national minorities, less social minorities)

Legal, Institutional, Implementation

Ethnic minorities

 

Table I demonstrates co-relations between human rights and the dynamics of ‘triple transition’. The main assumption here is that there is a specific post-communist human rights situation, which is brought about by particular constituents of the ‘triple transition’, as well as by its general rapid, simultaneous and radical character. This post-communist human rights condition is that virtually all ‘generations’ of rights are at stake concurrently and are of particular importance for the developing system. It is so because human rights play a dual role of (i) correcting and alleviating the possible negative effects of the transition processes in the society, as well as (ii) consolidating the positive effects, ensuring their durability and wider societal dissemination.

The post-communist human rights development is in a similar way to other transition processes characterized by multiplicity of issues, interests, actors and levels of operation, with little synchronization and harmonization among them. In a similar manner, it is a rapid, radical, simultaneous, multi-levelled and inconsistent process. In the context of ‘triple transition’ there are therefore two main modes for the conceptualization of the post-communist human rights development, namely in terms of (i) their semblance to the dynamics of other transition processes (in which human rights development is located within the post-communist system, and is subject to its limitations and disturbances) or (ii) their effect on these processes (in which human rights are located beyond the ordinary post-communist framework).   

Crucial for understanding the post-communist human rights perspective is the role that the post-communist state plays in regime of human rights protection.  Far from denying the persistently central role of the state in formation of the domestic framework of human rights regime, the main suggestion here is that with the end of communism state identity as the main human rights actor has been weakened by its internal frailty and instability (specific post-communism) and competed with by other increasingly more important actors (universal post-communism). Not only has the CEE state, to paraphrase the words of Max Weber, ‘lost its monopoly on violence’, which has been emphasized by the emergence and empowerment of non-state human rights violators, but the transformations of 1989 signified also that democratic governance and human rights respect became cornerstones for legitimacy of the emerging states, as well as their recognition on the international arena. Paradoxically, in the course of its transformation from perpetrator of citizens’ rights into their safeguard, the post-communist state has at the same time become potentially less effective and feeble. In other words, post-communism signifies more complex, multilateral and multi-polar human rights situation, where the former state-centrist perspective needs to be replaced by more inclusive and differentiated approach. 

 

 3. Human Rights and Political Conditionality for the Enlargement

This section of the paper asks the question on whether, how and to what degree the EU has recognised and addressed this specific post-communist human rights perspective in its political conditionality towards the Accession Countries. It presents EU as a human rights ‘hegemon’ that has come to play an important role in shaping of the domestic human rights regimes of its upcoming Eastern members because of its irresistible power of attraction, while at the same time being also an uncertain and self-limiting ‘hegemon’. In order to characterise EU’s ambivalent human rights actorness in the following I will employ the models of Storey (1995) and Leino (2003).

Storey (1995) has distinguished the European approach towards the accessing members along two human rights debates, which he puts in terms of two axes: (i) minimalist - maximilist and (ii) conditionalist - nonconditionalist.[5] The former represents two opposite positions in the debate on inclusiveness, spaciousness and specification of the international human rights catalogue. The ‘minimalist’ position stands for the recognition of ‘fundamental principles that can be met with the consensus of all people across all boundaries of culture, politics, religion and levels of economic and social development’, while the ‘maximalist’ position indicates ‘a universal system of norms that should progressively expand and reshape itself to take account of every new social and technological innovations’ (Storey 1995: 133 and 134). In other words, the ‘maximalists’ argue for a detailed human rights catalogue, which would cuts across cultural and political differences of states, whereas the ‘minimalists’ emphasize that norms and values are time- and place-dependant, and thus any project that goes beyond formulation of a general and inclusive human rights framework is a disguised attempt to exercise Western imperialism, and runs the risk of being misapprehended and fruitless (Bergem, Karlsen and Slydal 1999: 151-153).

The second debate takes place between the ‘conditionalists’ and the ‘anti-conditionalists’, and represents two opposite positions in the dispute on whether the level of human rights observance in a given country should be a condition for political decisions or economic assistance.

The argument here is that with the upcoming enlargement of the EU we are witnessing development towards both the ‘maximalist’ and ‘conditionalit’ position, which is due to both more explicit demands for compliance with the European human rights standards and the proliferation and complexity of requirements, i.e. formation of a closer and content-specific linkage between becoming member of the EU and building up domestic human rights regime. This is illustrated by the figure below:

 

Figure 1. EU human rights politics towards its accession countries.

 

Maximalist

(the 5th enlargement)

 

(previous enlargements)

Minimalist

Anti-conditionalist Conditionalist

 

Another mode of characterising EU human rights policies towards the CEE countries has been proposed by Leino (2003). It presents these policies as located ‘in-between’ determinacy and indeterminacy positions. It helps to identity their ambivalence as caught in between the conflicting attitudes towards, on the one hand, open-endedness and flexibility, which allows EU to be inclusive and to finalise the accession (in fact the only viable political option for CEE), and, on the other control, which gives it some fixed standards and evaluation criteria, and preconditions EU’s human rights actorness. In addition, even though EU remains spanned in between these two positions and recognises their advantages, they also bring certain danger of ‘open-endedness’ giving way to manipulation, and ‘control’ resulting in exclusion. This is presented by the figure below:

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2. EU human rights policies spanned in-between indeterminacy and determinacy positions (Leino 2003).

 

INDETERMINATEDETERMINATE

Open-endednessControlling(+)

 

 

 

ManipulableExclusive(-)

 

 

This human rights conditionality has been established at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993 (and thus is essentially of political, not legal character, even though they ‘reflect the existing EU law’ (Fişne 2003, 63)) . The substantial modifications of the enlargement policies that the Copenhagen Criteria suggest certain acceptance from the EU site of both its hegemonic capabilities in the area of e.g. human rights, as well as its recognition of the specificity of human rights in the post-communist context. This article tests that through an analysis of the Regular Reports on Poland ad Estonia in the period 1998-2002. There have been five areas of research taken under account: (i) the content of rights (in other words, issues recognized as rights), (ii) the emphasized dimensions of protection, (iii) the identified human rights actors, (iv) potential human rights perpetrators, and (v) the results of the evaluations. The results of the analysis are summarized in the following tables:


Table 2. Comparison of human rights conduct in Regular Reports on Poland, 1998-2002

 

Reg. Reports -  -  -  -  -  -  

Focus areas

Year 1998

Year1999

Year 2000

 Year 2001

Year 2002

Rights’ content

Data protection, asylum seekers

Right to privacy, asylum seekers, prison conditions, human trafficking, foreign property ownership

Libel law, prison conditions, equal opportunities, human Trafficking, police abuses, children rights

Police abuses, prison conditions, human trafficking, foreign property ownership, equal opportunities, children rights, Roma minority

Police abuses, the abuse of custody, prison conditions, human trafficking, racially motivated crimes, foreign property ownership, equal opportunities.

Dimensions of protection

Legal, institutional

Legal, institutional

Legal, institutional

Legal, institutional

Legal, institutional

Human rights actors

State, minor focus on NGOs

State

State

State

State, minor focus on NGOs

Human rights perpetrators

State

State

State

State

State

Evaluation

Positive (political and civil rights and minority rights),  some concerns about economic and social rights, women rights

Positive, minor concerns

Positive, minor concerns, abuses of civil rights, women rights

Positive, minor concerns with civil, political, social and economic rights

Positive, minor concerns with civil, political, social and economic rights


Table 3. Comparison of human rights conduct in Regular Reports on Estonia, 1998-2002

 

Reg. Reports -  -  -  -  -  -  

Focus areas

Year 1998

Year1999

Year 2000

 Year 2001

Year 2002

Rights’ content

Pre-trial and prison conditions, minority rights problems (naturalization and Citizenship Law, integration pace)

Pre-trial and prison conditions, economic and social rights of women, rights of the disabled

Pre-trial and prison conditions, equal opportunities

Pre-trial and prison conditions, degrading police treatment

Prison conditions, treatment of the disabled ad mentally ill

Dimensions of protection

Legal institutional (ratification of int. human rights documents)

Legal institutional (ratification of int. human rights documents)

Legal institutional (ratification of int. human rights documents)

Legal institutional (ratification of the UN Convention on the status of stateless persons, protocol 12 of the European Convention)

Legal institutional (ratification of the UN Convention on the status of stateless persons, protocol 12 of the European Convention)

Human rights actors

State, minor focus on NGOs

State

State

State

State

Human rights perpetrators

State

State

State

State

State

Evaluation

Positive, concerns about citizenship issues (esp. stateless children), language requirements for naturalization

Positive, some concerns about social and economic rights of ethnic minorities, positive about the improvement of minority  situation

Positive, some concerns about social and economic rights of ethnic minorities,  and equal opportunities, positive about the improvement of minority  situation

Very positive, especially concerning minority situation

Very positive, especially concerning minority situation

 


Tables 2 and 3 illustrate EU’s fulfilment of its hegemonic role in the area of human rights. On the one hand, it has been asserted that EU membership constitute strong motivations for the former socialist countries to comply with its human rights conditionality and the specified requirements. On the other hand, however, EU’s hegemonic human rights role – continuously ambivalent – has developed and become more assertive. confident and self-conscious. This is demonstrated in the proliferation and specification of issues included in the agenda of human rights, in particular in the Polish case. The claim is that this does not indicate deterioration in human rights, but rather further definition of socio-economic and political issues ‘as rights’, as well as EU’s increasing self-confidence and willingness to address them.

The main question is how this newly forged hegemonic human rights identity relates to the previously unfolded post-communist human rights situation. In regard to the content of rights, EU has placed major emphasis on civil and political rights: only few social and economic (and even less cultural) rights were addressed, and this happened predominantly as a minority issue. As for minority rights, these have attracted major attention (in the Estonian case), but the definitions of minority and minority rights have remained unclear and rather problematic. Interestingly,  it seems that in the course of practising its novel human rights role EU has paid increasingly more attention to social and economic rights, and phrased as human rights issue the problem of equal opportunities (thus the gender dimension of human rights appears to gain its importance). What is more important, the gender issues, as well as rights of the disabled and children, etc., become addressed not as occasional problems but as elements of a consequent and long-term involvement.

Another issue is that EU perspective has remained very state-focused, thus has not recognised the development of alternative norm-triads. Only occasionally have the issue of NGOs as human rights actors been mentioned, and no other rights’ protectors or potential violators have been identified. There is also little recognition of the ‘weakened’ post-communist state: one that can no more do as much harm as during the socialist phase, but that also remain powerless as for certain forms of human rights violations. The claim is that this is a serious flow in EU policy, which might result in substantial limitations on its human rights actorness.

Another problem is associated with the legal and (to a lesser degree) institutional level of human rights protection that remain in the centre of EU new human rights approach. That means that there is little problematization of the actual implementation phase, as well as of the connections between the subsequent levels. In result, the measure of EU’s success is the introduction of certain legal and institutions solutions, not the actual improvement. That explains why the results of the reports have been predominantly highly positive. The unanswered question here is therefore how the undertaken measures translate into deeper societal transformations.  

 

Conclusions

General motif of this paper has been that post-communism introduces some distinctive traits to human rights situation in CEE, and that recognition has become a precondition for any successful international human rights policy in the post-Cold War times. These characteristics are numerous and diverse, and all together they form a complex structure which can be grasped if certain concepts are modified and certain policies introduced. This post-communist human rights model especially challenges the state-centrist approach and the traditional division into different and separated generations of rights. Thus, it calls for inclusion of non-state actors in this framework, extension of the concept of responsibility, and ‘reconciliation’ between the traditionally antagonistic liberal and socialist human rights discourses.

In the context of the 5th enlargement EU has developed its human rights politics along the lines of the ‘maximalist’ and ‘conditionalist’ positions. It has played an undoubtedly important role in supporting democratic developments, and respect for human rights in its future member states from CEE. This process, termed here as development of EU hegemonic human rights identity in the region, has nevertheless displayed certain flows. These flows, the claim has been, which result from its insufficient recognition of the post-communist (both universal and specific) human rights idiosyncrasy. EU approach has been rather characterised  by its conventional attitude ’from above’, almost exclusive focus on the state as a human rights actor, and on formal (legal and institutional) guarantees on protection.  Little attention, if any, has been paid to development of alternative human rights norm-triads. In result, this article concludes, EU might eventually be less effective as a human rights hegemon as it appears in the short-run.

In spite of this partly critical evaluation, it needs to be emphasised that the enlargement (and its human rights dimension) has been an important learning process for the EU. The claim has been that the ‘human rights language’ in which EU spoke to the CEE countries has developed and altered so as to become not only more confident and assertive, but also less eclectic, and more coherent and consequential. Finally, there is a need to locate that process in the larger context of EU’s developing human rights identity (to be displayed for instance in the course of the subsequent accessions). The up-to-date tendencies suggest that in the future EU might increase and strengthen its conditionality mechanisms, and endorse closer the maximalist position. However, I would also like to suggest that in accordance with Leino’s proposal (2003), it will remain caught in-between the conflicting positions of ‘open-endedness’ and ‘control’, and will thus remain an ambivalent and uncertain human rights hegemon.

 

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European Commission, 1999. Regular Report from the Commission on Estonia’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_99/pdf/en/estonia_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 2000. Regular Report from the Commission on Estonia’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_00/pdf/en/estonia_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 2001. Regular Report from the Commission on Estonia’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_01/pdf/en/estonia_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 2002. Regular Report from the Commission on Estonia’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_02/pdf/en/estonia_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 1998. Regular Report from the Commission on Poland’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_98/pdf/en/poland_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 1999. Regular Report from the Commission on Poland’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_99/pdf/en/poland_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 2000. Regular Report from the Commission on Poland’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_00/pdf/en/poland_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 2001. Regular Report from the Commission on Poland’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_01/pdf/en/poland_en.pdf>.

European Commission, 2002. Regular Report from the Commission on Poland’s Progress Towards Accession, <http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/report_11_02/pdf/en/poland_en.pdf>.

 

Tables

Table 1. Changes in human rights brought about by the ‘triple transition’ processes.

Table 2. Comparison of human rights conduct in Regular Reports on Poland, 1998-2002.

Table 3. Comparison of human rights conduct in Regular Reports on Estonia, 1998-2002.

 

Figures

Figure 1. EU human rights politics towards its accession countries.

Figure 2. EU human rights policies spanned in-between indeterminacy and determinacy positions


[1] An earlier version of this paper has been presented at the ISA Convention in Montreal 2004. The author would therefore like to thank all the participants for their critical comments, as well as other panelists, Emilian Kavalski and Jose Costa for their suggestions and incessant support. The final version has benefited greatly from these contributions.  

[2] See also Offe 1996.

[3] See also Zolkos 2002.

[4] See also Staniszkis 1991 and Staniszkis 1992.

[5] Story takes as point of departure membership in the Council of Europe. It is my assertion that similar tendencies can be recognized in the EU approach.



Copyright (c) 2004 Magdalena Agnieszka Zolkos

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