In the mid-1990s, the EU adopted a general policy of including human rights clauses in all of its international trade agreements. Through these human rights clauses, in addition to other tools such as Human Rights Dialogue and sanctions, the EU seeks to promote the protection of human rights in its external relations. There are, however, some issues arising regarding the content, use, implementation and activation of these clauses. Not only do human rights clauses in different agreements vary in wording and scope, but also the actual implementation and enforcement by the EU differ from case to case, raising questions as to the selective character and the consistency of the EU’s action and, consequently, as to the EU’s credibility as a normative international actor. The main deficiencies in this regard are the selective and at times inconsistent inclusion and activation of human rights clauses, as shown by an examination of the EU’s agreements and their implementation and enforcement in practice. This article examines human rights clauses in the EU’s international trade agreements and the implementation and enforcement thereof, in order to shed light on the promises and pitfalls of the EU’s human rights efforts.