THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO COUNTRY SITUATIONS
The EU has strongly supported the resolution adopted at the initiative of Ukraine. We welcome the Council’s response to this request and Ukraine’s willingness to cooperate with the international organisations. The resolution addresses human rights concerns in the whole of Ukraine. UN reports have clearly established that the human rights situation in Crimea and Sevastopol has deteriorated since the illegal annexation, as well as in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The resolution addresses these concerns and the need for accountability for all human rights violations, protection of persons belonging to minorities, protection of journalists, for reforms and an inclusive political dialogue. Redressing these issues can only further stability and reconciliation across Ukraine.
The human rights situation in Belarus remains a primary concern of the EU. We welcome therefore that the Council adopted with a clear stance the EU-led resolution and extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year. Major human rights concerns remain unaddressed and the situation has worsened in many areas. Belarus remains the only country in Europe still applying the death penalty. Two new executions have been carried out in April 2014 in secret. Ales Bialiatski’s release was an important step. His full rights should be reinstated though and all remaining political prisoners released without delay. The EU has taken several steps to engage Belarus in a meaningful dialogue, to which the Government has so far regrettably not responded positively.
- South Sudan
The serious deterioration of the human rights situation in South Sudan since the beginning of the fighting in December 2013 is deeply concerning. Massive human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law are committed by all parties. The Council needs to address this appropriately, complementing ongoing regional and UN efforts. The panel discussion next September will be the first opportunity for the Council to thoroughly debate the situation. We welcome the monitoring mandate given to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, given the gravity and scale of the violations, we regret that the resolution does not take into account the urgent need for a long-term dedicated human rights mechanism.
The situation in Syria is worsening by the day, with a continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation. It is crucial that Syria remains on the Council’s agenda. The resolution insists on an end to the human rights violations and abuses in the country, calls for accountability and an end to impunity, presses for humanitarian access and calls again for access for the Commission of Inquiry.
THEMATIC HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
We welcome the high prominence given to women rights through numerous discussions and panel debates. The EU has forcefully engaged in the negotiations on the two resolutions on violence and discrimination against women. We have also been again actively involved in the “Power of Empowered Women” events steered by the Group of Women Ambassadors to the UN, which addressed this year specifically women economic empowerment.
We are pleased at the substantive death penalty resolution adopted at the initiative of a cross-regional group of countries with the full backing of the EU. The EU holds a principled position against the death penalty, as an inhumane, cruel, irreversible and unnecessary punishment. Striving for its worldwide abolition is one of the EU’s main objectives. The resolution finally puts the question of the death penalty firmly on the Council agenda. The high level panels to be organised every two years will allow for the necessary exchanges to share good practices and identify the challenges.
The establishment of a new Special Rapporteur mandate on the rights of persons with disabilities is another important advancement at this Council session. The EU has a long-standing policy to tackle discriminative practices and promote the integration of persons with disabilities. It is also a full party to the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The EU has not been able to support the resolution on the protection of the family. While we attach great importance to family related issues and recognise the valuable contribution they make to society, the text fails to recognise the diversity of family and its changing composition over time.
The EU has supported the resolution on Business and human rights put forward by the core group. We welcome its consensual adoption. It will give a new impetus for further progress by States and companies alike to prevent and remedy abuses. The UN Guiding Principles, which were adopted by consensus only three years ago, should remain the basis. We will continue to concentrate on genuine and effective means to advance their implementation.
We have engaged constructively on the resolution on the protection of Roma introduced by Russia. The EU has a longstanding commitment to prevent and fight all forms of discrimination. It attaches high importance to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to Roma communities worldwide. All EU Member States are implementing comprehensive national Roma strategies and are committed to overcoming remaining challenges. We regret that the resolution was presented without appropriate prior consultations with stakeholders. It fragments the efforts to fight discrimination and introduces a regionally debated concept, which has not been agreed at universal level. We are confident though that the Special Rapporteur will address the matter in a comprehensive manner, among other pressing minority issues.
Please find all the EU statements of the 26th session of the Human Rights Council here