THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO COUNTRY SITUATIONS
Syria: We welcome the Human Rights Council’s vote condemning the rapidly deteriorating and alarming human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians. Those responsible must be held accountable; there can be no impunity for any perpetrator of such atrocities and we reiterate the role of the International Criminal Court in this respect. The EU stands united behind the Council’s demand that the Syrian authorities grant full, immediate and unfettered access to the Syrian territory for all Members of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry and facilitate access to the territory for the United Nations and humanitarian actors. We remain ready to provide all support needed to achieve a political solution and work with partners and international actors, particularly the UN, to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and its multi-ethnic and multi-religious character.
Sudan: The EU has repeatedly raised concerns about on-going human rights violations and armed attacks by government security forces, rebels and other armed groups, perpetrated in total impunity. We welcome therefore the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert. The EU joined the consensus on the resolution and we will continue to work hard on any future resolution to adequately reflect the gravity of the human rights situation in Sudan.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): We continue to be highly concerned by the human rights situation in the DRC, in particular since the latest report of the High Commissioner indicates a serious augmentation of violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The EU welcomes the Council’s decision to hold a high-level panel on sexual violence in the DRC at its next regular session in March, and commends the DRC for its engagement with the Council on this important issue.
Central African Republic (CAR): The EU has been very outspoken on the dramatically deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic both in the area of human rights, as well as in the humanitarian field. Today’s resolution establishing the mandate for an Independent Expert is a strong signal that the Council and the wider international community are determined to keep a close eye on developments in CAR. The EU welcomes the commitment made by the CAR authorities to fully cooperate with this new mechanism.
Somalia: The EU is pleased that the newly adopted resolution builds on Somalia’s commitments in the New Deal Compact, adopted in Brussels this month.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK): The EU welcomed the oral update of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the DPRK, whose mandate had been established in March 2013 through a joint resolution presented by the EU and Japan. The EU commends the methodology adopted by the COI to conduct hearings of witnesses in public in order to raise international awareness of the conditions in the country. The EU continues to urge the DPRK to halt the systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations and to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms.
Cambodia: We fully supported the resolution on Cambodia renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur for two years. The EU made a particular push to include references to the need for further judicial reform, action to promote freedom of expression, the resolution of land issues and to gender-based violence.
Yemen: The EU supported a resolution on technical assistance for Yemen which welcomed the establishment of an OHCHR field presence in Yemen and other positive developments. It also identified several areas for improvement, including addressing women’s rights, continued execution of alleged child offenders and elimination of child, early and forced marriages.
THEMATIC HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
Female Genital Mutilation: We welcome the initiative by our African partners to convene for the first time a panel discussion on female genital mutilation (FGM) at the 26th session of the Human Rights Council next year. We reaffirm our strong commitment to eradicating this extremely harmful practice that violates the rights of girls and women. The EU adopted a ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’, setting out a series of priorities for gender equality, including ending gender-based violence and female genital mutilation.
Rights of older persons: The situation of older persons is very high on the European Union’s agenda, within and outside the EU’s borders. We welcome the fact that the mandate of the Independent Expert, established by this resolution, has been asked to focus on the implementation of existing law related to the rights of older persons.
Right to development: The EU supported a resolution on the Right to Development, a process to which we are fully committed, based on the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, the multidimensional nature of development strategies and the fact that individuals are at the heart of the development process. The EU firmly subscribes to the notion that, while national development efforts should be supported, the primary responsibility for ensuring that the right to development is realised is a responsibility owed by states to their citizens.
Child, early and forced marriage: We welcome the decision of the Council to hold a panel discussion next year on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage, placing the issue on its formal agenda for the first time. The EU is contributing to many projects worldwide aimed at countering this violation of basic human rights.
Civil society spaceand Cooperation with the UN, its representatives and its mechanisms in the field of human rights: The EU was highly satisfied that the Council adopted these important resolutions – preserving freedom of expression for civil society and the safety of Human Rights Defenders are a vital element of the EU human rights policy and action plan.
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