The dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria is of major concern for the EU and the International Community at large. The resolution, introduced by the EU on behalf of more than 70 co-sponsors and adopted today by a very large majority, testifies once more of the Human Rights Council’s continued high concerns. It sends a strong appeal to the Syrian Government to immediately stop all violence and to ensure unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the country. The resolution welcomes the appointment of the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League. Importantly, it calls for urgent action to be taken to investigate the gross human rights violations committed and bring the perpetrators to justice.
To this end it was crucial that the Council extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry and tasked it to conduct a mapping of the violations committed since March 2011 and to continuously update it. The EU also welcomes the appointment of Paolo Pinheiro as Special Rapporteur who will start his work once the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry ends.
The resolution on Burma/Myanmar is another breakthrough. While it gives due acknowledgement to the Government for the recent positive developments towards democratisation and national reconciliation, it also points at the remaining serious human rights concerns that still need to be addressed. In this regard, the release of the remaining political prisoners and ensuring that the April 1st by-elections are free, transparent and fair will be of key importance. The resolution extends also the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for another year, welcoming the Government cooperative attitude. Throughout the negotiations, the EU has constructively engaged with a number of interested stakeholders, including ASEAN partners and Burma/Myanmar itself. The outcome is a balanced and forward-looking text, credibly reflecting the reality on the ground.
At the initiative of the EU and Japan, the Council also extended for another year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea. The EU welcomes that unlike in previous years the resolution was adopted by consensus, sending thus a strong expression of support for the work of the Special Rapporteur. The Government is urged to fully cooperate with him and facilitate his visits to the country.
The EU welcomes the adoption by consensus of the resolution on Freedom of religion or belief. In view of the increasing acts of violence against individuals belonging to religious minorities in various parts of the world, States must step up their efforts to protect and promote the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.
The Council adopted by consensus a comprehensive resolution on the rights of the child, jointly presented by the EU and the group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, which enjoyed this year a record support of 80 countries. After four years it deals again with the protection of the child in all aspects of life, with a particular focus on children and the administration of justice.
The EU fully supported the resolution on Sri Lanka, which invites the country to engage more with the Human Rights Council on past human rights violations. Respect for the rule of law and addressing accountability are in the EU’s view necessary steps towards national reconciliation and sustainable peace. The EU has expressed strong concern at this session at reported acts of intimidation and reprisals against civil society representatives both in Sri Lanka and in Geneva and has called on the Government to respect and protect their rights.
The EU finally welcomes that the Human Rights Council decided to continue following the situations in Yemen and Libya and extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. The EU is also pleased with the resolutions adopted by consensus on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Somalia, providing technical assistance and support for capacity-building.
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