The Human Rights Council once again had to address the despicable situation in Syria as the conflict entered its third year. The report of the International Commission of Inquiry given on 11 March presented a horrific picture of the human rights violations and abuses perpetrated in the country. It was thus essential that the Council adopts a strong resolution, supported by the vast majority of countries including the EU, which insists on the need for accountability and preventing impunity. The EU fully supports the very important investigation and mapping work carried out by the Commission of Inquiry and had advocated the extension of its mandate for one year, agreed in the end by the Council.
The resolution on Myanmar/Burma prepared by the European Union in full transparency with Myanmar was unanimously agreed without a single dissenting voice. It reflects the positive developments in the country and encourages continuation of reforms. At the same time significant human rights shortcomings remain, notably with regards to the situation of minorities in the States of Rakhine and Kachin, that require continued monitoring. The resolution therefore invites Myanmar to follow-up quickly on the opening of a country office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one further year.
The EU is deeply concerned at the grave human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It welcomes therefore that the Human Rights Council has supported by consensus the proposal, made jointly with Japan, to set up an international Commission of Inquiry. The Commission, established for one year, is mandated to investigate human rights violations and ensure accountability, in particular in the cases where these violations may amount to crimes against humanity.
On the critical theme of freedom of religion or belief, the EU welcomes the Human Rights Council’s extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for three more years. Another EU priority was the adoption by the Council of the resolution on the rights of the child, which this year focused on the right to health. It addresses some of the key health challenges facing children including maternal and child mortality, malnutrition, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, harmful practices, environmental health, armed conflict and violence.
During this session, the European Union co-organised a very successful high-level panel discussion “The Power of Empowered Women” on 26 February, whose conclusions were highlighted on the International Women Day on 8 March. It held a side-event with the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief on 6 March and co-organised the annual meeting on the rights of the child on 7 March.
Note: The EU was the main sponsor of resolutions on Myanmar/Burma, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Freedom of religion or belief, and Rights of the Child.?
Learn more about the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva:
See EU statements delivered during the Human Rights Council, 22nd session in Geneva: