– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Candidate Countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland† and Serbia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union would like to thank the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre for presenting the Human Rights Council’s seventh annual report to the UN General Assembly. We also appreciate the opportunity to hold an interactive dialogue with the Human Rights Council President later today.
Since the establishment of the Human Rights Council, the European Union has been a strong supporter of this main UN human rights body. The Council has strengthened the ability of the UN to ensure that all persons would be able to enjoy all human rights. We attach great importance to its credibility and effectiveness, and will continue to make every effort to ensure that it is able to address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, respond promptly to human rights emergencies, but also to improve human rights standards worldwide through a systematic work on various thematic issues.
In view of this, the European Union is very pleased to note that the Council has maintained its leadership in addressing human rights situations. In particular, the Council´s prompt response to the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is highly important, including the holding of several special sessions and an urgent debate, as well as the extensions of the Commission of Inquiry´s mandate and establishment of a Special Rapporteur mandate, once the Commission´s mandate has been completed. The Council has also demonstrated its commitment to provide technical assistance and capacity building to the governments of Libya, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Guinea, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Sudan to promote human rights. The EU hopes that the Council will continue to follow situations where technical assistance and capacity building can make a difference and take action where necessary.
Serving as Member of the Council entails important responsibilities – resolution 60/251 provided that: “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”. We encourage all to pay full attention to the human rights record and human rights commitments of States at the time of the election of members of the Human Rights Council, as well as throughout their membership.
The EU also attaches the greatest importance to the Special Procedures, one of the most vital functions of the Council. In order to allow Special Procedures to perform their role, it is crucial that mandate holders are able to independently assess and draw the Council’s attention to human rights issues and situations. Given the deteriorating situation in the countries, the EU welcomes the new mandates established on Belarus and Eritrea. We welcome the extension of the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the situations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Burma/Myanmar, and Iran, and the renewal the mandates of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Somalia and Haiti.
Thematic Special Procedures play an equally outstanding role, through their research, country specific visits and valuable contribution to the better understanding of the content of specific human rights and their contribution to the enhancement and realisation of human rights standards. Amongst the many thematic Special Procedures, the EU would like to highlight the new mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
The ability of mandate holders to undertake country visits and establish direct contact with the relevant governmental structures as well as other national and regional stakeholders, especially civil society, is of crucial importance. We regret the refusal of some Governments to cooperate with mandate holders. All EU Member States have extended a standing invitation to the special procedures and the EU calls upon all UN members to do likewise and to actively cooperate with them.
Over the years, the Council has also contributed to the further development and understanding of international norms and standards in the field of human rights. The Council is also mandated to monitor the implementation of international human rights law and standards. Only through objective monitoring and reporting can the Council identify the needs of victims and possible areas for capacity building and technical assistance to States. We are happy that the strengthening of international co-operation and the development of capacity building and technical measures activities remained strong areas for involvement in the Council.
The Universal Periodic Review is truly a universal mechanism, dealing with all human rights and applicable to all UN Member States without discrimination. Participation by all States in the first cycle is to the great credit of the process. We encourage all States to ensure that universal participation is maintained also through the second cycle.
Ultimately the outcome of the UPR process depends not only on the quality of the recommendations, but also on the commitment to implement them. The EU is committed to continue supporting countries in implementing their UPR recommendations.
The Human Rights Council also has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue, exchange of best practices and experiences on a wide range of thematic human rights issues and thus for the advancement of the human rights agenda. The EU wishes in particular to highlight and welcome the following important developments:
- First, enjoyment of human rights by women constituted a major theme at the Human Rights Council during the period under review. The Council strongly condemned all acts of violence against women and girls and should continue working on recommendations on how to create and strengthen linkages and synergies between the Council mechanisms and with other relevant intergovernmental processes. On the elimination of discrimination against women, the Council called on states to ensure full representation and full and equal participation in political, social and economic decision-making.
- Second, the Council adopted guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights as a useful tool for States in formulating and implementing poverty reduction and eradication policies.
- Third, the Council continued its important work on the rights of the child, with a full-day annual panel discussion dedicated to the issue of administration of justice, and an omnibus resolution on the rights of the child, presented jointly by the European Union and GRULAC.
- Forth, the Council addressed the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, which is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, by adoption a resolution on the issue of financing.
During the reporting period, the Council also addressed the human rights on the Internet and reaffirmed that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression. We believe that this issue deserves continued monitoring.
The EU reiterates its strong condemnation of acts of reprisals and intimidation of civil society representatives attending the Human Rights Council and cooperating with human rights mechanisms and the OHCHR. Civil society organizations and national human rights institutions bring extremely valuable contributions to the work of the Council. Their possibility to interact with the Council must be preserved.
In conclusion, Mr President, let me reiterate the European Union’s strong commitment to contribute to the work of the Human Rights Council and to further strengthen its role to contribute to the development of international human rights law, to systematically uphold and ensure the implementation of existing international norms and standards, and to promote the observance by all States of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Thank you, Mr President.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process
† Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area