In the first week of the session, on 19th June, the EU Delegation together with the Permanent Mission of Brazil hosted a side-event on Women Human Rights Defenders with the participation of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Mr. Maina Kiai.
On 25th June, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted a new Strategic Framework and an Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, which gives new impetus and structure to the EU Human Rights policy – one of the EU’s top political priorities – and foresees continuous close cooperation with multilateral organisations and civil society.
EU pleased with adoption of the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on Belarus
The EU was particularly pleased with the adoption of the resolution establishing a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus. The resolution had been presented by the EU and was adopted with a larger majority than last year. The cross-regional support clearly shows that the concerns over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus go far beyond Belarus’ neighbourhood. Belarus is the only country in Europe, which still applies the death penalty. Since the presidential elections in December 2010, the situation has seriously deteriorated. The report of the High Commissioner speaks about a “pattern of serious human rights violations”. The EU has pursued a gradual approach, calling for the cooperation of the Belarusian authorities with the international human rights mechanisms, which they have so far refused to do. The only option left to the Human Rights Council was the appointment of a Special Rapporteur. The EU strongly believes that the Special Rapporteur can make a difference, providing effective monitoring and regular reporting on the situation. It will also help civil society to raise awareness and promote respect for human rights in Belarus. The EU now sincerely hopes that Belarus will fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur.
Situation in Syria more serious than ever: EU welcomes resolution adopted
The Human Rights Council has been following the situation inSyriafor more than 15 months. The situation is more serious than ever, with continuing human rights violations and abuses, escalation of violence and increasing militarisation. The European Union therefore fully supported the adoption of a resolution. It was important that the Human Rights Council pronounces itself, to reiterate the concerns and to encourage the international community to ensure that there is no impunity for violations of international human rights law, including for those that may amount to crimes against humanity. The EU also welcomed the Interactive Dialogue and the oral update by the Commission of Inquiry on 27th June. It is paramount that the Commission can completely fulfil its mandate and is provided with additional resources, as stated in the resolution. The resolution also calls upon the Syrian authorities to grant the Commission immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the country. In view of Syria’s pronounced candidacy, the resolution also recalls the standards for Human Rights Council membership that the current Syrian government would fail to meet. The EU’s main concern is to bring an end to the violence and the human rights violations and to bring relief and a political perspective to the people of Syria. Implementation of the six-point plan by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan is of the essence. The roadmap agreed at the meeting of the Action Group on Syria, in which the EU was represented by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, is therefore key.
EU welcomes African leadership on resolutions on several African countries
- The EU welcomes the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on Côte d’Ivoire. Thanks to the cooperative spirit of Côte d’Ivoire the country will continue benefitting from the support of an independent expert. The EU believes it is critical that the international community and the Council continue to accompany the efforts of the country.
- On Mali, the African group took the initiative to present a resolution, which draws the attention to the human rights aspects of the situation and asks the High Commissioner to report at the next session. The EU welcomes this initiative.
- Several African countries tabled a resolution on the situation in Eritrea; this is the first time the Council addresses this situation. The resolution lists the concerns of the international community (severe restrictions on freedom of opinion, assembly, detention of journalists and human rights defenders, forced conscription for indefinite periods, “shoot-to-kill” practice for citizens who want to flee the country, to list only some). The European Union applauds the African leadership on this matter and hopes the country will cooperate with the Special Rapporteur to be established.
- Somalia: the Council also adopted a resolution on Somalia, extending the mandate of the independent expert.