This meeting was called to discuss the role of poverty alleviation in promoting and protecting human rights, as the concerned resolution reads, “with a view to advancing mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights”.
For the European Union, the concept of mutually beneficial cooperation is a notion, which lacks common understanding and recognition in international human rights law. It most importantly neglects the point that cooperation in the Human Rights Council should first and foremost aim at respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of individuals, which are universal and indivisible. It is the responsibility of all states to respect and protect human rights and not place inter-state cooperation above accountability.
We are concerned that the notion of “advancing mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights” aims to construct an unhelpful narrative, which would elevate the process of development above human rights. Human rights are universal, interrelated, indivisible and interdependent and are to be realised worldwide without discrimination of any kind. The EU will position itself against any attempts to undermine this fundamental character of human rights.
We would also like to express our strong support to the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and refer the participants to the very valuable reports.
The European Union is fully committed to the fight against poverty and recognises that this is key to advancing human rights, especially in a covid-19 context, where we are seeing a rise in extreme poverty for the first time in decades. For us, the approach that we take to poverty reduction is central to our values of promoting participation and a rights based approach to sustainable and inclusive development encompassing all human rights and all persons. Human rights must be the starting point and guide our actions to lift individuals out of poverty. This requires collaborating with the individuals concerned, but also between all actors, public and private, civil societies, local authorities and governments to tackle the root causes of poverty including injustice and inequality.
Internally, the EU has adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights, a common commitment by the EU and its Member States to fight unemployment, discrimination, social exclusion and poverty. An Action Plan, which aims to stem the impact of COVID-19, is being prepared to fully implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. This is part of the EU’s response to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and was also discussed during the visit to the EU of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in January 2021
Externally, the EU and its Member States are the largest providers of Official Development Assistance in the world, based on the key principle that sustainable and inclusive development and human rights are interlinked, mutually reinforcing and complementary. Narrow views that sustainable development can be achieved without a foundation in human rights, democracy and the rule of law do not make for sustainable solutions. This is why the EU implements a human rights-based approach to development. The principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination and transparency underpins the EU’s policies, actions and initiatives at all levels. We will continue to support partner countries to address challenges in the implementation of all 17 SDGs, from the eradication of poverty, economic growth and decent work to combating climate change and inequalities.
The EU supports the UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action on Human Rights as well as his leadership in placing human rights at the core of the response to the pandemic. As enshrined in Art. 10 of the Vienna Declaration, development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, however the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights. We underline that sustainable and inclusive development cannot be achieved without respect for and protection and fulfilment of all human rights. We underscore that a transformative recovery process aimed at achieving fairer, greener, more resilient and inclusive societies will require investing in human rights, democracy, good governance, enabling civic space and strengthening the rule of law.
For the EU, there is simply no place for discrimination of any kind in the implementation of the SDGs, including poverty eradication. To make headway, we need inclusive and participatory processes that prioritise the needs and mitigate the risks faced by those that are marginalized. The role of civil society and human rights defenders is more important than ever to help us recover better and faster after the pandemic. No one should be left behind, no human right ignored.
Question to the panel:
How do we ensure that poverty eradication programmes are fully participatory placing the voice, rights and agency of individuals at the centre of our efforts and do not discriminate against persons belonging to ethnic, religious or other minorities?