17 February 2017, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Ambassador Ms. Joanne Adamson, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the High-Level meeting to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance
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The European Union welcomes the renewed focus that this commemoration brings to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to the intense efforts that are being made to address this issue in the UN context and beyond.
The adoption of the Convention 10 years ago marked a major step forward in the international response to enforced disappearances and the human rights violations that are inextricably linked to this scourge. The Convention is truly innovative, from its emphasis on the non-derogable right not to be subjected to an enforced disappearance and its broad definition of “victims” of enforced disappearance, to its articulation of a right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of enforced disappearance. As former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said so eloquently in his statement last year to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, such victims include “anguished women and men desperately seeking any information, even if only a clue, that will lead them to their loved ones“.
With 96 signatories and 55 States Parties, the Convention has attracted significant support from all regions – this is particularly important given that enforced disappearances are a global phenomenon. The degree of support within the international community is well illustrated also by the fact that the UN General Assembly resolution on the Convention – presented by France, Morocco and Argentina – is adopted without a vote and secured 87 cosponsors at UNGA 70.
The EU commends the dynamic work of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances through consideration of State reports, individual complaints, inter-State complaints and requests for urgent action. We also welcome its effective interaction with other parts of the UN system, including the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. The Working Group has an indispensable role and the scale of that role is underlined by the fact that, during the last reporting period, the Working Group transmitted 766 new cases of enforced disappearance to 37 States. The EU urges all states to cooperate in this vital work, including through support to country visits.
The EU is playing its part in advancing the goals of the Convention, including through human rights dialogues with third countries and support to programmes. Examples include assistance to the Institute for Legal Medicine in Colombia which is involved in identifying the bodies of people killed following enforced disappearances as well as in establishing the circumstances of their death, psycho-social rehabilitation and support services to victims of enforced disappearances in Libya, and the priority being accorded in 2017 to projects tackling extra judiciary killings and enforced disappearances in the EU’s flagship global programme the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The EU also supports the International Commission on Missing Persons, including through provision of assistance to their work in Kosovo.
The EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 highlights the need to address the link between enforced disappearances and torture. International humanitarian and human rights law clearly stipulates that all persons deprived of their liberty should be held in officially recognised places of detention and their whereabouts known. This is an absolutely essential element in the global effort to combat torture. The EU will continue to insist that the issue of enforced disappearances is taken seriously.
We look forward to continuing to work with others in the international community to realise the universal ratification of the Convention, to advance the goals of the Convention, and to make enforced disappearances a thing of the past.
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