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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: 3 July 2015, Geneva – The 29th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC29, 15 June – 3 July) proved once more the body’s leading role in bringing abuses and violations of human rights committed across the world under scrutiny of the international community, including the human rights situations in countries such as Syria, Belarus and South Sudan.

A thematic issue that was prominently discussed at this Council session was the question of how to ensure the protection of the human rights of migrants. “Migration, and the question of how to respond to irregular migration flows through trafficking and smuggling of human beings, was rightly very high on this Council’s agenda,” recalls Ambassador Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. “The EU has taken a very active role, initiating an additional debate on the human rights of migrants on the opening day of the session. It is clear that this issue not only demands the attention of all of us, but also a close partnership between states, regions and international organisations,” he adds.

The EU continued to be actively involved in all debates of the Council on a wide variety of human rights issues, including:

Belarus: The EU remains concerned by the situation in the country, exemplified by repeated violations of freedom of assembly, crackdown on peaceful protests, continued reports of cases of harassment of human rights defenders and civil society groups, arrests and detentions of journalists as well as restrictions on internet freedom, as confirmed by the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur. Therefore, the EU once again presented a resolution renewing the Special Rapporteur’s mandate.

Ukraine: The EU fully supported the resolution on Cooperation and Technical Assistance in Ukraine and welcomes its adoption. It is regrettable that this resolution did not pass the Council by consensus. However, we welcome the fact that the number of co-sponsors increased in comparison to last year’s resolution. The human rights situation in Ukraine must remain on the Council’s agenda, including through the presentation of findings of the OHCHR Monitoring Mission to Ukraine at the next HRC sessions. We reiterate that accountability for all human rights violations is crucial, as is unimpeded access for the OHCHR Monitoring Mission to all parts of the country.

Syria: The situation in Syria remains alarming. Systematic and widespread violations and abuses of human rights law and international humanitarian law continue to be committed unabated, causing the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons to rise daily. The EU co-sponsored a resolution pointing to the continuing grave human rights and humanitarian situation in the country, with a clear focus on fighting impunity and granting humanitarian access.

South Sudan: A major break-through was achieved at HRC29 on the human rights situation in South Sudan when the Council adopted a resolution highlighting the gravity of human rights violations in the country and requesting a swift follow-up in form of an OHCHR Monitoring Mission to be dispatched to the country.

Burundi: In view of the human rights situation in the country, including excessive use of force by security forces against protestors, restrictions to the rights of freedom of expression and assembly and a general climate of intimidation for opposition parties, journalists and civil society, the EU has initiated a cross-regional statement to ask the Council to continue to closely monitor the situation and to play a supportive role in preventing a further worsening, hence complementing efforts by the United Nations, the East African Community and the African Union towards a lasting political solution to the current situation.

Eritrea: The EU welcomes the presentation of a first comprehensive report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which highlights the systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations prevailing in this country, and welcomes the decision to maintain the situation under the Council’s scrutiny in the near future.

Gaza: The EU participated in the dialogue with the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. The EU believes that compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law by States and non-state actors, including accountability for past violations, is a cornerstone for peace and security in the region.

Migration: This Council session rightly put much focus on the human rights of migrants. The EU emphasized at every occasion its commitment to preventing the loss of lives and human rights abuses occurring through trafficking and smuggling of human beings whilst reminding that this is a responsibility which must be shared by all members of the international community. With this in mind the EU promoted the holding of a dedicated debate on this matter in partnership with all key stakeholders. 

Women’s Rights and Gender:  Gender based violence against women and girls remains one of the most prolific forms of violence of our time and clear human rights violation, whether it takes the form of physical or psychological violence, sexual violence or a harmful practice such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM). We co-sponsored a resolution on ‘Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate all Forms of Violence against Women’ with a particular focus on eliminating domestic violence, as well as a resolution on discrimination against women. Furthermore the EU was a co-organiser of the high-level event on ‘The Power of Empowered Women’ and the photo exhibition ‘Violence on Her Skin’ .

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons (LGBTI) persons are entitled to the same human rights and fundamental freedoms as everyone else. This is the message the EU again strongly underlined, including in a cross-regional joint statement that got the support of a large number of States.

Terrorism/radicalisation/violent extremism: The EU is convinced that fight against terrorism must always be carried out with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Hence, it joined consensus on a resolution on “Human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”, which upholds this crucial principle.

  • Ref: EUUNG15-004EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Human Rights Council
  • Date: 3/7/2015

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