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, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
At the outset let me stress that The European Union considers the Universal Periodic Review as one of the most important mechanisms of the United Nations system, aiming at the promotion and protection of human rights.
One of the keys to the success of the UPR is that its core principle is universality. It enables all states to actively take part in the review, on the one hand by submitting national reports, on the other hand – by asking questions and giving recommendation to all states under review, regardless of the regional or political group they belong to.
Moreover, Madame President,
We are of the opinion, that the UPR, being a peer-to-peer process, not only creates a unique opportunity for all states to identify the gaps in their human rights protection system, but also to share good practices regarding the promotion and protection of human rights and to indicate the areas in which progress has been achieved.
Even though the first cycle has not finished yet, over the sessions, that have already taken place, we have had a chance to see how important the UPR process is to the states under review. However, some of the modalities of the process have been identified that required modification, in order to improve the effectiveness of the UPR.
That is why the EU has actively engaged in the process of the review of the Human Rights Council, that included also the revision of the modalities of the UPR. The new solutions will be introduced in the second cycle of the review, starting in June 2012. In particular, we are looking forward to the enhanced participation of the National Human Rights Institutions, complying with the Paris Principles in the process, as well as to the new arrangements regarding the lists of speakers, enabling all states willing to take the floor to do so. In our view those arrangements will contribute to the improvement of the UPR process.
As we approach the second cycle of the review, the greatest challenge will be implementing commitments made during the first cycle in order to effect change on the ground and making the most of this unique opportunity to involve civil society.
We welcome the efforts that many States have deployed in view of preparing their UPR and encourage continued civil society involvement when implementing the UPR recommendations. In this regard we see the voluntary mid term reporting as an important tool, both to sustain national efforts and to share best practices with other states. The UPR has already become an important part of the UN human rights promotion and protection system, and it is our hope, that it will continue to be one of the most important mechanisms bringing together governments and the civil society of all 193 states, members of the United Nations, in order to improve the situation on the ground through constructive and transparent dialogue.
Finally, we strongly encourage the High Commissioner to take further steps to urgently finalise the dates for the first session of the second cycle of the Review, in order to provide clarity regarding timelines for Government and non-Governmental preparations.
Thank you, Madame 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.