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, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union would like to compliment the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its excellent work and reaffirm its steady support for the activities performed. We also wish to reiterate that the independence of the Office is crucial for performing its tasks in an efficient and impartial manner. Regarding the strained budget situation of the OHCHR the EU will help find the most appropriate ways to address this challenge.
Special procedures are a vital UN tool for the protection and promotion of human rights. Field visits are particularly important in that they give a valuable and credible insight into the events on the ground, as has been the case on numerous occasions during the events in the MENA region. However, we still need to significantly improve the overall cooperation between States and mandate holders and strongly encourage States to issue a standing invitation for the mandate holders and to fulfil this pledge.
The European Union would like to stress that the free and unhindered contact and cooperation with individuals and civil society are also indispensable to enable the United Nations and its mechanisms to fulfill their mandates. For this reason, we echo the call of the High Commissioner for states to stop the unacceptable practice of reprisals, as a matter of priority. It will be recalled that the Council, in the outcome document of its Review, strongly rejected any act of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups who cooperate with the United Nations.
The EU remains committed to the reform of the Treaty Bodies and therefore welcomes the series of consultations – the last one being that held in Sion – on how to make Treaty bodies more efficient and better equipped to deal with the challenges posed by their growing numbers, the increasing number of tasks they have to perform, as well as the insufficient coordination among them. We share the assessment that one of the crucial elements of the reform is funding of the Treaty bodies which needs to be appropriately addressed. Finally, for the reform to be successful, the independence and expertise of the members of Treaty Bodies need to be guaranteed and we need to ensure that the recommendations are given proper attention.
Regarding the Advisory Committee, the EU takes note of the conclusion of its 7th session and welcomes the appointment of the five members of the Working Group on communications. However the EU still has concerns over a number of issues, that are being deliberated in the framework of the Committee. For example, the notion of traditional values is problematic in that it may pose a risk to the universal realization of human rights. We also disagree with the stipulation contained in the AC report, that the right to food includes the “right to land” and with the idea to draft a new international human rights instrument regarding the rights of people working in rural areas. For those reasons, the work of the Advisory Committee should be thoroughly reformed so that it is able to provide the necessary expertise to the work of the Human Rights Council. We are deeply disappointed that the latest review of the work and functioning of the Council did not bring the more efficient and transparent selection process for the members of the Advisory Committee nor a clear indication of how to improve the working methodology, including whether it is necessary to retain such a large number of experts.
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.