The European Union and Ukraine held their annual Human Rights Dialogue meeting on 24 July in Kyiv. The EU delegation was led by Mr Dirk Schuebel, Head of Division for bilateral relations with the Eastern Partnership countries in the European External Action Service. The Ukrainian delegation was led by Mr. Anton Yanchuk, Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine.
The EU-Ukraine Human Rights Dialogue convened in its second meeting since the signature of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in which the EU and Ukraine express mutual commitment to common values, in particular full respect for democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms. In line with its policy of consulting civil society ahead of its meetings on human rights, the EU met with representatives of Ukrainian and international NGOs prior to the dialogue.
The meeting was held in an open and constructive atmosphere, allowing for a thorough exchange of views on the human rights situation in Ukraine and on the country's commitment to achieving sustainable progress in this area.
Following up on developments since the last meeting in July 2014, discussions covered a range of issues of mutual interest, from the deteriorating human rights situation in the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula and non-government controlledareas in eastern Ukraine to ensuring accountability, reform of the electoral framework and freedom of media and peaceful assembly in the country. The exchanges also included non-discrimination policy, including rights of LGBTI persons and persons belonging to ethnic, linguistic, religious and national minorities, the rights of the child as well as gender equality and women's rights. The EU used the opportunity to present its new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for the period 2015-2019, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 July.
The EU re-emphasised the importance it attaches to Ukraine's ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and stressed the need to investigate and ensure accountability for all reported human rights violations, including allegations of possible war crimes, committed in the context of the ongoing armed conflict, and to ensure full compliance with International Humanitarian Law by all sides.
In addition, Ukraine and the EU discussed the on-going judicial proceedings in Russia against Ukrainian citizens Nadiya Savchenko, Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, which are being closely monitored by the EU.
The meeting was preceded by the Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom and Security on 23 July in Kyiv that covered policy areas such as reform of the judiciary and law enforcement, fight against corruption, asylum and migration policy, border security and data protection.
The next Human Rights Dialogue meeting between Ukraine and the EU is scheduled to take place in summer 2016.