30 September 2016, Geneva – The 33rd session of the Human Rights Council (“HRC33”) concluded today in Geneva, after three weeks of intense work. Active across the board, the European Union participated in plenary debates as well as interactive dialogues and other fora. The EU successfully led a resolution establishing a Commission of Inquiry on Burundi to conduct thorough investigations into human rights violations in the country, contributing towards full accountability for these acts.
In his opening statement of the 33rd session, the UN High Commissioner pointed out the growing refusal on the part of an increasing number of States to engage with the OHCHR or to grant OHCHR or the human rights mechanisms access to their territory. “The EU fully supports the independence and integrity of the mandate of the High Commissioner and his office“, says Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation in Geneva. “We call on all States to further step up their support for the important work of the OHCHR, including by granting access“.
During the session, the European Union continued to advance the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, focusing in particular on the following issues:
- Syria: It remains crucial that the Council keeps the situation in Syria high on its agenda, even more so following the dramatic and rapid deterioration of the situation in Aleppo. During HRC33 the EU once again pushed for an immediate end to all violations and abuses of human rights, full accountability and an end to impunity, as well as a referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court. The EU welcomes the decision to hold a High Level Panel during HRC34 to increase visibility of crimes being committed in Syria, focused on the issue of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances.
- Yemen: In light of the ongoing human rights violations and abuses, and following the consensual adoption of a resolution, the EU counts on the prompt allocation of additional international human rights experts to the OHCHR office in Yemen to not only provide more technical assistance but also increase the capacity to independently collect and preserve information establishing the facts and circumstances of alleged violations. The EU looks forward to the High Commissioner´s update on these findings in the next Council session in March 2017.
- Burundi: Taking into account the dire situation on the ground and the recommendations of the group of independent experts established in December 2015, the EU tabled a successfully adopted resolution on the human rights situation in the country. The resolution establishes a Commission of Inquiry to monitor human rights violations and report back to the Council. The EU hopes that Burundi – as a member of this Council – will fully cooperate with this Commission.
- DRC: Amidst concerns over the reports of shrinking political space and of intimidation of members of civil society and media, as well as in light of the recent violence in Kinshasa, the EU welcomes the adoption of the African Group resolution establishing three Interactive Dialogues through 2017. As the country enters a crucial period the Council should remain vigilant and take further appropriate action if the situation so warrants.
- Ukraine: Fundamental freedoms are severely limited for people living in separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine, and the human rights situation in Crimea has considerably deteriorated since its illegal annexation by the Russian Federation. During HRC33 the European Union supported all efforts to address the situation on the ground, including through participation in the Interactive Dialogue on Ukraine.
- Women’s human rights and gender equality: Resolved to promote gender equality, women’s empowerment and the advancement of women’s rights, the EU participated in the annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective and a half-day panel discussion on violence against indigenous women and girls.
- Rights of indigenous peoples: The EU was active in the negotiations of the three resolutions addressing the rights of indigenous peoples, including the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and the review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples.
The EU welcomes the appointment of several special procedures mandate holders, including the first ever Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The EU Delegation co-organised several side events, including on religion and international diplomacy; on children’s rights; on the human rights situation in Syria; and on the fight against racism. For more information on these events please visit the Geneva delegation website. All EU statements and interventions at HRC33 can be found here.
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