I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro* and Iceland**, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The obligation to promote and protect Human Rights remains universal and is pertinent to all states, irrespective of their political systems and level of economical and social development. We are aware however, that the effective fulfilment of these responsibilities may require enhanced cooperation on an international level. Technical assistance and capacity building programmes remain for States with limited resources an important tool to improve the human rights situation on the ground. We are committed to using the EU’s external assistance instruments to help various countries address assistance needs in the human rights field.
We believe that the role of the Human Rights Council in that regard may be further enhanced, by strengthening its capacity to deliver significant change on the ground. We share the opinion that the discussion on how to achieve this goal should be further carried out in its relevant fora.
European Union wishes to underline the role of the special procedures and thank them for their country visits and the information they collect from the diverse places they serve. They are also an invaluable source of knowledge for the international community on various aspects of human rights situation in all countries. Their role in providing necessary expertise and recommendations on how to improve human rights protection to governments is also welcome.
The European Union greatly appreciates the reports of the High Commissioner on the situations of human rights and activities of her offices in various countries. Numerous country visits undertaken by the High Commissioner and her personnel have a crucial importance, especially in situations when there no other Council mechanisms are involved.
We are looking forward for the prompt opening of the OHCHR Regional Office for North Africa, based in Cairo, Egypt and we welcome the establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Tunisia. We are of the view, that the significant international presence in countries undergoing transition has a critical significance for ensuring that the human rights aspects of change is not neglected.
We welcome the engagement of the Yemeni authorities with the Human Rights Council and we stress the need to develop a framework for continued dialogue and strengthened cooperation in the field of human rights between the government of Yemen and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We would also like to encourage the OHCHR to coordinate with donors on ways to assist the Government of Yemen and non-governmental organizations with capacity building for the establishment of a national human rights institution.
Since the beginning of this session, the EU has engaged to seek the cooperation of Bahrain for a procedural decision in view of an Interactive Dialogue at the nineteenth session. There has been no agreement so far. The EU welcomes the invitation extended in May 2011 by Bahrain to the OHCHR to conduct a visit to the country, and calls for such a visit to be conducted in the near future, possibly immediately after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry releases its report at the end of October 2011. We hope for the full cooperation of Bahrain with this Council.
The EU welcomes the progress already achieved by Cambodia in promoting human rights and building the structures of democratic governance. The EU recognises the important role played by the international community to support these developments, and welcomes the Government of Cambodia’s continuing cooperation with international mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur, the OHCHR and the ECCC. However, there are still improvements to be made and the EU will continue to work with the Government of Cambodia on issues like the judiciary, land rights and civil society.
The EU remains actively engaged in Somalia, in order to restore security, and contribute to peace, development and national reconciliation. To this end, we will continue to work closely with all our international partners, including the United Nations, the African Union and IGA and we support the OHCHR initiatives in that regard.
The European Union would like to commend the valuable contribution made by civil society organisations in the area of technical assistance and capacity building. We call upon all governments to take advantage of the expertise that they can provide and encourage States to support the Non-Governmental Organisations by creating favourable conditions for their development.
The European Union will continue assisting states bilaterally – through its external assistance instruments – and through the UN with a longstanding objective to successfully tackle human rights challenges and prevent future violations.
Thank you Madam President.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro 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.