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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Summary: 27 March 2015, Geneva – During the 28th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), the European Union together with its 28 Member States pro-actively engaged with countries from all regions as well as civil society representatives in order to promote and uphold the universality and indivisibility of human rights.

The European Union defended universality of human rights and advocated for civil society space

“Human rights remains at the heart of the EU’s foreign policy, even more so in view of the multiple crises that the world faces today. These crises come with tremendous human suffering and gross violations of basic human rights. We in Geneva have a responsibility to address these violations and abuses,” says Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. “Be it Syria, Ukraine, DPRK or South Sudan – the international community must ensure that those who commit systematic violations and abuses – in some cases even crimes against humanity – are held accountable,” he adds.

“We must also remain vigilant on acts of intolerance and violence against individuals based on religion or belief in all parts of the world. This is why the EU has been leading on resolutions promoting the freedom of religion or belief, while highlighting the importance of fostering dialogue, understanding and tolerance,” Ambassador Sørensen emphasises.

Expressing the EU’s longstanding support for the work of human rights defenders, the campaign #idefend, organised by the EU Delegation in cooperation with OHCHR and the Permanent Missions of Brazil, the Republic of Korea and Tunisia, promoted the importance of civil society engagement and took a firm public stance against attempts to limit civil society space.

The EU’s strong commitment to the multilateral human rights fora was underlined by the participation in the Council of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini (see speech), the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, and a delegation of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee for Human Rights led by its Chair, Elena Valenciano (see press release ).

The EU focussed, among others, on the following human rights situations and issues:

Myanmar/Burma: The EU presented a balanced resolution that acknowledged the political, economic and democratic reforms that the country has undergone, while at the same time also pointing to remaining challenges, including democratic space for civil society, the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and the situation in conflict-affected areas. The resolution, which the Council adopted by consensus, extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for another year.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: A resolution initiated by Japan and the EU addressing the dire human rights situation in the DPRK was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the HRC. The resolution addresses persisting human rights issues, reaffirms the call on the UN Security Council to consider a referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court, and extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. The resolution also establishes a panel discussion on the human rights situation in the DPRK to be held in September 2015.

Syria: The appalling abuses and human rights violations in Syria must be brought to an end. The EU has therefore supported a resolution condemning the continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation within the Syrian Arab Republic, extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry and reaffirming the need for accountability and ending impunity.

Ukraine: The human rights situation in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea remains very concerning. A cross-regional statement, which calls on all parties to implement the Minsk agreements, has found wide support. The EU also reiterated its appreciation and support for the work of the OHCHR in documenting violations and ensuring accountability and providing technical assistance.

South Sudan: The EU is deeply concerned by the continuing reports of serious human rights violations and by the continued threats to civil society and political space in South Sudan. In view of insufficient accountability and documentation in South Sudan, the EU presented, along with delegations from various regions, a joint statement calling for an appropriate mechanism to address the human rights situation on the ground.

Mali: The EU welcomes the consensual resolution adopted by the Council, which renews the mandate of the Independent Expert.

Freedom of religion or belief: The EU attaches a high priority to freedom of religion or belief. This year’s EU-led resolution stresses the role that freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression play in the fight against all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief. By adopting this resolution, the Human Rights Council strongly encourages government representatives and leaders in all sectors of society to speak out when this right is violated.

Rights of the child: The annual resolution led by the EU and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), which focussed on investing in children, saw wide support. The resolution requires States to consider children’s rights when developing and implementing national policies on health, education, or social protection. It also calls for international cooperation to support national efforts.

All EU statements and interventions can be found on the website of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva.

  • Ref: EUUNG15-003EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Human Rights Council
  • Date: 27/3/2015

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