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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.


Ms. Radhika COOMARASWAMY – Children and Armed Conflict

Ms Gulnara SHAHINIAN – Contemporary forms of Slavery, including its causes and consequences
and Ms Najat M’jid MAALA – Sale of Children, child prostitution and child pornography

Ms Catarina de ALBUQUERQUE – Access to safe drinking water and sanitation
and M. Okechukwu IBEANU – Toxic Wastes

Ms Navanethem PILLAY – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
and Mr Olivier DE SCHUTTER – Right to food

M. James ANAYA – Indigenous Peoples

Justice Richard GOLDSTONE – Head of UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

Mr. Githu MUIGAI – Contemporary forms of racism

Mr Surya SUBEDI – Situation of human rights in Cambodia

Dr. Shamsul BARI – Situation of human rights in Somalia

EU statement: ID with the SR of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, 12th session of the Human Rights Council (16 September 2009)

Dear Mr. President, Dear Madam Special Representative,

The European Union would like to thank Ms. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict for the presentation of her Annual report.

The EU shares the Special Representative’s opinion expressed in the report that the main challenge now is to implement the normative standards for the protection of children involved in armed conflict. Addressing impunity by bringing perpetrators to justice and ensuring compliance of laws with international obligations is key in this regard. We have been pleased to read in the report that several legislative reforms undertaken recently in many states follow this line. The EU highly appreciates the work of the Special Representative, especially her field missions, which have resulted in encouraging commitments by relevant stakeholders. Despite these positive developments, as noted in the report, grave violations continue to be committed against children by parties to conflicts. What action had the Special Representative in mind when requiring more to be done to systemize and activate the full range of options available to the international community to ensure action against restive violators?

Madam Special Representative, in your report, you have put a special emphasis on widespread and systematic sexual violence against children in armed conflicts. In August this year the Security Council adopted a landmark resolution 1882, that requests the Secretary General to include in his reports on children and armed conflict parties responsible for killing and maiming of children as well as those perpetrating rape and other sexual violence. National strategies to prevent and combat sexual violence are a matter of priority in this regard. To what extent do the existing national strategies in concerned states cover the issue of sexual violence and do they include specific provisions regarding the protection of the girl child? We would also like to ask about the strategy of your Office in this particular area and if there have been any recent developments as a result of your activities?

You have identified several emerging concerns that constitute challenges in the protection of children in armed conflicts, besides already mentioned sexual violence also terrorism and counter-terrorism measures, attacks on schools, internal displacement and violence against children. In which of these areas is the protection gap most significant and where and how can the Human Rights Council be more active,not duplicating existing mechanisms but rather complementing them or even playing a leading role?

Finally, the EU would like to express its firm support to the Special Representative of the Secretary General by fulfilling her responsible and complex mandate for the protection and well-being of children affected by armed conflict.

Thank you.

EU statement – 16.09.09 pm: Interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of Slavery, including its causes and consequences
Ms Gulnara Shahinian and Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
Ms. Najat M’jid Maala

Mr. President,

The European Union would like to express its appreciation to the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of slavery including its causes and consequences for her latest report and her ongoing work in pursuance of her important mandate.

Ms Shahinian, we would like to welcome the attention you have given in your report to the ongoing problem of forced labour, especially bonded labour. As you state in your report, forced labour is a global problem affecting almost every country. You highlight the fact that despite being the most common form of contemporary slavery, forced labour is often not perceived as slavery or a slavery-like practice. You also highlight the significant amount of attention which the global problem of trafficking in persons have received, but the comparatively small amount of attention paid to the global problem of forced labour, when this does not occur in the trafficking context.
What steps would you suggest to address these problems of perception and lack of awareness at the national and international levels?

Your report draws attention to some of the common forms of bonded labour as well as its causes and consequences. You also make reference to the fact that some states have achieved some success in seeking to combat the problem of bonded labour.
Please could you provide further information on some of the successful strategies which have been employed by states to highlight the problem of bonded labour within their own jurisdictions and to address its causes and consequences. Do you think such measures could serve as an example for other states?

Finally, we would like to welcome the fact that you have carried out a country visit to Haiti, and that there some other states have indicated their willingness to receive you in the near future.
Please could you provide any recent information in relation to visits which you are seeking or planning in the near future?

The European Union would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography Ms Maala for a very thorough report that gives a particular thematic emphasis on the issue of child pornography on the internet, as promised in her previous report.

The Special Rapporteur has managed to deal with an exhaustive list of issues pertaining to the thematic focus of the report before us and we commend her for her effort to be as analytical as possible, both in reporting all aspects of this global problem and in suggesting ways and means to combat this phenomenon.

Ms. Maala, allow us a few questions with regard to your report.

1. We would be interested to be informed on the positive impact that the increased cooperation between you, the S.R. on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the S.R. on contemporary forms of slavery has, especially after the seminar you co-organized last June. How do you envisage the continuation of this cooperation?

2. To what extent have you taken into consideration the draft Guidelines for the protection of children in cyberspace that are to be issued at the ITU Telecom World, to be held next month in Geneva?

3. The EU considers it important to take into account the views and experiences of children in devising and implementing strategies to prevent and combat child pornography on the internet, as you suggested in paragraphs 102 and 103 of your report. Taking into consideration the recommendations you have made in this respect, we would kindly ask you to further elaborate on that issue.

Mr. President,

Allow us to reiterate that the EU attaches great importance to the Convention on the Rights of the child and its two Optional Protocols. We put a particular emphasis on mainstreaming the rights of the child in all our key policies and programmes both within the EU and in our external action. Further to the EU program entitled Safer Internet 2009-2013 which builds upon the successful Safer Internet Plus program that started in 2005, let us inform you about one of our recent initiatives, the EU Council Framework Decision on combatting the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography designed to replace the 2004 respective Framework Decision on the same issue. This initiative constitutes a comprehensive EU approach on the fronts of prosecuting the offenders, protecting the victims and preventing the phenomenon.

Thank you, Mr. President

Interactive Dialogue: Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation and the Special rapporteur on toxic waste

The EU would like to thank the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation for her first annual report, focusing on aspects related to access to sanitation. The EU would also like to thank the Independent Expert for the consultations held in April this year on the normative content of human rights obligations related to access to sanitation that was a transparent event and allowed States and other stakeholders to provide input into this issue which was valuable.

With reference to the report before us, we would like to address the following questions to the Independent expert:

Firstly, in your report you refer to the important role of the private sector as well as other non-state actors in contributing to the enjoyment of human rights related to access to sanitation. We wonder if you could highlight the different aspects of this role?

Secondly, you are referring to the link between access to sanitation and discrimination, especially with regard to vulnerable groups. We would be pleased to hear more about this, especially in terms of possible negative impacts if such discrimination is not properly addressed.

Finally, in your report you underline the importance of broad participation of all concerned groups. We wonder to what extent can and should individuals/groups be included in the processes related to the planning, and the construction, the maintenance and monitoring of sanitation services and why in your view this participation is so crucial?

The EU would also like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment for human rights for his report, which focuses on the adverse effects of shipbreaking on the enjoyment of human rights. The EU considers that this report provides a most useful summary of the issues.

We would like to reiterate the importance that it attaches to issues related to ship recycling. It does agree with the Special Rapporteur that shipbreaking is an issue that requires a global solution and believes that the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships is an important first step in improving global standards. We note that the Special Rapporteur calls on all relevant stakeholders to consider implementing additional measures and would like to hear his views on how additional steps by individual stakeholders might be coordinated with a view to achieving a global solution.

The European Union supports the encouragement by the Special Rapporteur of State Members of the International Maritime Organization to take all appropriate steps to ratify the Convention within a reasonable period of time. The EU would like to know whether the Special Rapporteur can suggest ways in which State members of the IMO might be further encouraged to take steps to ratify the Convention?

The Special Rapporteur mentions that it may be several years before the Hong Kong Convention is fully in force. The EU acknowledges this and the European Commission has therefore been developing a Strategy for Ship Dismantling, which includes proposals for the early implementation of the Hong Kong Convention within Europe and possibly for some additional measures as well.

The EU welcomes the analysis provided by the Special Rapporteur on a number of human rights issues, including the right to health and the right to safe and healthy working conditions. In this context, the EU urges all States to fulfill their obligations in this regard.

The EU notes that the Special Rapporteur has made some comments on the assessment of the equivalence of the Hong Kong and Basel Conventions. Parties to the Basel Convention will be considering equivalence at the Open Ended Working Group in May 2010 and the 10th Conference of the Parties in 2011. The EU is firmly of the opinion that the criteria used in this assessment should look towards the level of overall management of the lifecycle of a ship rather than focusing on specific individual controls.

Thank you, Mr President.

Follow-up to the Special Session on the Global Food Crisis and the Special Session on the Financial Crisis
EU statement, Friday 18 September 2009

Mr. President,

The EU would like to thank the High Commissioner for her update on the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on the universal realization and effective enjoyment of human rights.One of the objectives of the special session was to give input to the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development. The EU is committed to contribute to the expedient implementation of the conference’s decisions in the relevant bodies.

The European Union thinks it is important that the Human Rights Council continues to deal with the human rights component of the crisis. The Council should be vigilant that states’ responses to the crisis do not erode human rights protection. In doing so, the Council should pay as much attention to the protection of economic, social and cultural rights as of civil and political rights.

The international community should remain committed to its goals of fighting poverty, promoting economic development and advancing the implementation of the MDGs worldwide. In this respect the EU reaffirms its own commitments to developing countries.

Governments should also continue to pay special attention to the way the crisis may affect the rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups such as women, children, persons belonging to minority groups or migrants. Those may be the first ones to bear the brunt of rising poverty or unemployment.

Mr. President,

The European Union would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for his report. We have read the analysis of large-scale land acquisitions. The EU would be interested in knowing more about how a human rights perspective can be integrated in these land acquisitions, as well as how the compliance of human rights and particularly the right to food can be ensured and food security enhanced.

The Special Rapporteur has at earlier occasions also underlined that a sustainable solution of the food crisis must be based on a human rights approach. The EU would appreciate an update of recent developments and progresses made with regard to the integration of a human rights perspective into international and national programmes, for instance those based on FAO guidelines, regarding food security.

In the report, the Special Rapporteur proposes to reform the Committee on World Food Security into something far more ambitious. The EU would be interested in hearing how these proposals link up to ongoing efforts to reform this Committee. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on these issues during future annual interactive dialogues.

Thank you, Mr. President.

EU statement – final draft: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, Professor James Anaya

Mr. President,

The European Union wishes to thank Professor James Anaya for his second annual report and the presentation today.

Mr. Special Rapporteur,

You have decided to focus your report on the duty of States to consult with indigenous peoples on matters affecting them, as well as the relationship between your mandate and other UN mechanisms dealing with indigenous issues.

We share your view that close cooperation with other UN mechanisms, notably the Permanent Forum and the Expert Mechanism, constitute a fundamental aspect of your mandate. It is equally important to avoid any duplication of work among these bodies. In this respect, you point out in your report that mandates of the Special Rapporteur, the Permanent Forum and the Expert Mechanism overlap to a certain extent and some of their activities could be structured more effectively.

You notice further a confusion among indigenous groups, NGOs and other stakeholders about the roles and functions of these mechanisms.

In this regard, we would like to ask you the following questions:

What steps should be taken to enhance cooperation among these mechanisms, particularly with a view of preventing duplication of activities and better division of work?

How to improve a better understanding of roles and functions of these mechanisms among all stakeholders, in particular indigenous groups?

Mr. Special Rapporteur,

As for the duty of States to consult with indigenous peoples, you emphasize in your report that the article 19 of the Declaration should not be regarded, as a general “veto power” over decisions that may affect indigenous peoples, but rather as an obligation to establish consent. You stress that the key issue regarding consultations with indigenous peoples is to focus on establishing relevant procedures and to make efforts to achieve consent from all engaged sides. In this context, you underline a need to create a climate of confidence, particularly from the side of indigenous peoples.

You also note that indigenous peoples may need to revise their own institutions by setting up representative structures to facilitate consultation processes. You further note that the failure of indigenous groups to clarify their representative structure can confuse and slow down the consultation process. In this respect, the functioning of indigenous institutions should be in accordance with international human rights standards.

We would like to ask you the following questions:

What kind of confidence-building measures would you recommend to be introduced in order to build a climate of confidence?

What pragmatic steps can be made, from your point of view, to overcome the challenges regarding the indigenous representation in the consultation process?

Finally, the EU would like to express its’ support for your work on identifying and promoting good practices, especially by offering technical and advisory assistance to the interested states and other stakeholders.

The European Union would like to wish you all the best in fulfilling your important and complex mandate.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Interactive dialogue with Justice Goldstone 29 September: United Nations Human Rights Council – 12th session, 29 September 2009

Mr. President, Justice Goldstone,

The EU underlines the importance it attaches in all contexts to ensure accountability and counter impunity for violations of international law, including investigations into possible violations. In the view of the EU, you and the other members of the Fact-Finding Mission have produced a serious report which merits serious consideration and follow-up by this Council.

We recognize that you took on the mandate with a focus on all parties concerned. Focusing on the obligation to investigate violations, could you specify how further investigations could be conducted by both sides to the Gaza conflict given the situation on the ground?

The EU would like to know how the Mission took into account the lack of input from Israel into the investigation? How do you consider that it impacted on the Mission’s methodology, legal analysis and conclusions drawn?

Justice Goldstone,

The recommendations in the report are elaborate and inter-connected. They are also directed to a large number of entities, inside as well as outside the UN. There have been articulated fears that your report in some way could negatively impact ongoing peace talks. Could you please comment on these views?

Justice Goldstone, your report was requested by the Human Rights Council and you have now presented it to us here. How could the Human Rights Council – leaving aside for the moment the issue of referral – best deal with your recommendations?

Thank you, Mr. President

Item 9: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance, (30 September 2009)
Mr. Githu MUIGAI

Thank you, Mr President.

The European Union would like to thank you, Mr. Muigai, for your report on the manifestations of defamation of religions, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 10/22 and your presence here today.

The EU firmly believes in tolerance, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of religion or belief. We are convinced that a continuing dialogue can help us to overcome existing gaps in perceptions, concepts and ideas.

However, our long-standing and well-known position on this particular issue has not changed. The European Union does not see the concept of “defamation of religions” as a valid one in a human rights discourse. International human rights law protects individuals in the exercise of their freedom of religion or belief. It does not and should not protect specific belief systems. As the High Commissioner herself as well as you and the former Special Rapporteur on Racism, Doudou Diène have pointed out numerously in the past, from a human rights perspective, the concerns behind the concept of “defamation of religion” should be addressed as an issue of incitement to religious hatred. This should be considered within the existing framework of international human rights law, in particular the ICCPR.

In this context the language included in the Durban Review Conference this April which deplored “… the global rise and number of incidents of racial or religious intolerance and violence, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and anti-Arabism manifested in particular by the derogatory stereotyping and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief…” should be seen as an important reference for our future work on this issue. We continue to hear reports about people who face discrimination such as prevention of access from their place of worship or arbitrary detention. Such cases, compounded with racial discrimination, means that these groups are particularly vulnerable.

The EU condemns instances of Islamophobia, Christianophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. However, the problem of religious intolerance is worldwide and not limited to certain regions or certain religions or beliefs. Followers of all religions and beliefs, as well as non-believers, can be victims of human rights violations. Any list of victims can only be exclusive. In addition we believe that the issue of religious intolerance and discrimination should be mainly dealt with by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion taking into account her mandate of addressing also all forms of discrimination based on religion or belief.

Q: “Your report focuses on incidences of discrimination against people belonging to one religion in particular. Do you have information regarding other religions? What is your assessment of such cases? Are their common patterns of discriminatory behaviour across religions?”

We thank you for your efforts to highlight in this report some of the major challenges for the victims of discrimination based on religion or belief as well as your recommendations how to improve the implementation of existing international legal obligations to fight against racism and all forms of discrimination. Concerning the proposed regional seminars to be held in order to attain a better understanding of legislative patterns in different regions of the world, however, we are not completely sure how these seminars can serve the victims suffering from such violations.

Q: “Could you please explain your views on how these seminars should be conducted and how in your opinion they can contribute to addressing human rights violations and discrimination of individuals all over the world?”

Q: “Finally we would be interested to hear more about your recommendations to states on implementing their core obligations relating to the protection of individuals and groups of individuals against violations of their rights incurred by hate speech? Do you have any specific concrete measures, best practices or actions in mind that states should promote in order to address this phenomenon?”

I thank you.

In response to the presentation of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi

The EU would like express its appreciation to you, Mr Subedi, for your report on the situation of human rights in Cambodia. The EU welcomes your efforts to help the Royal Government of Cambodia continue to improve the situation of human rights in the country and is ready to provide support for your work.

1. In the report you compliment the Royal Government of Cambodia on the openness of its attitude, and the willingness of interlocutors to engage in constructive debate with a view to improving the human rights situation. In the final paragraph you mention that you are willing to act as a bridge between the Government and civil society “in order to foster an environment of cooperation rather than confrontation between them” from which it would seem that there are serious problems on the ground. Could you elaborate on this and do you have any ideas on how relations could be improved? How do you think a proposal for an NGO Law could affect the environment in Cambodia?

2. One of the main points you raise in your report is that of land grabbing and land evictions. These have also been a theme in previous reports of the Special Representatives of the Secretary General. Whilst acknowledging the advances made and work done by the Government, the issue obviously still remains a contentious one, with the poor and vulnerable in particular lacking security of tenure.

In your opinion, is the national law, if fully enforced and adhered to by all actors, sufficient to stabilise the situation? What useful and practical steps are needed for the national law to be implemented? To what extent is the government or actors on behalf of government, still carrying out evictions? Would you support a moratorium on evictions until such time as the process for dealing with those affected by development has been reviewed?

3. Another issue your report highlights is that of defamation laws and the resulting restrictions on freedom of expression. This is particularly alarming, not least in its broader implications for the country and the ability of lawyers, NGOs, media, and politicians to perform their duties within the legal system. Could you comment on whether the defamation and disinformation laws themselves are particularly harsh or whether they are being interpreted and enforced to a level beyond the letter of the law and in accordance with the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution? Do you think the revision of the Penal Code will improve the situation?

4. Your work so far has emphasised the constructive nature of your approach and emphasis on working with the Royal Government of Cambodia. Do you have specific plans on how to engage with Government in a constructive dialogue? How will you balance engagement with the Government and engagement with NGOs and civil society?

Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Dr. Shamsul Bari

The European Union would like to thank the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia for his excellent report and to express our gratitude for his commitment.

We fully share your concern over the serious and unstable situation in many parts of Somalia, one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Impunity and the lack of rule of law generate additional threats to victims. The continued and strengthened engagement by the International Community to stabilize Somalia and improve the living conditions of its people is of course of great importance. In this respect, we welcome the appointment by the Transitional Federal Government of a ministerial human rights focal point.

The EU encourages the IE to carry out his task in close association with other actors working on Somalia, notably the UN, AU and the EU. The TFG and regional administrations, such as Puntland and Somaliland, are all in need of having their commitments to human rights yield tangible results in the daily lives of the Somali people. How can the international community best assist the Government of Somalia in implementing the various aspects of the Djibouti Agreement, as well as increase respect for human rights and international humanitarian law?

As you have rightly highlighted, there is an immediate need to address impunity in order to strengthen the rule of law and end human rights violations. For this to happen, federal and regional institutions need to be capacitated with a clear policy on justice and police service. As the TFG is in the process of shaping a permanent federal constitution it is timely to interact with appropriate actors, including government, parliament and civil society. We would appreciate to learn about the strategic approach that the IE intends to follow in relation to this.

Bearing in mind the many challenges faced by the TFG and the Somali people, the EU fully supports the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert for another year.

The EU is keen to see the HRC do more on the situation of human rights in Somalia. We are open and willing to work with the Somalis and other interested parties on finding innovative, constructive and meaningful ways in which this Council can deal with this matter.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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