As this is your last report to the Council as Special Rapporteur, the EU wishes to express sincere appreciation for all the work you have done during 6 years in your mandate. You have engaged constructively on a topic of high sensitivity, and we commend you for your approach.
We welcome your report, including its analysis of both existing and evolving challenges, as well details on what has proved effective and what is missing in the fight against slavery.
As your report highlights, the number of people subjected to slavery in all parts of the world is extremely alarming and indicates that much greater and more urgent effort is needed to combat this appalling practice. The gender dimension of slavery is of particular concern with over 70 per cent of slavery victims reported to be female.
In your report you refer to the growing efforts by states, including states within the EU, to investigate forced labour in public or private supply chains. What more should be done to make sure both states and businesses learn from the positive examples we have so far?
Turning on to the Working Group on use of mercenaries
The European Union thanks Mr. Saeed Mokbil, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, for the presentation of the report focussing on the extractive industry [A/HRC/42/42].
Regarding the extractive industry, the EU is actively engaged in promoting human rights due diligence in the supply chain. The EU is actively involved in the OECD Investment Committee overseeing the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNE). The MNE guidelines provide for comprehensive set of recommendations for the responsible supply chains in the extractive sector, covering agriculture, minerals and garments, as well as stakeholder engagement. In this respect, in 2017, the EU adopted the ‘’Conflict Minerals Regulation’’, which sets out requirements (applicable as of 1 January 2021) for importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold from conflict-affected and high risk area, to undertake supply chain due diligence to identify and mitigate risks associated with conflict-affected and high risk areas.
We are, however, concerned by the way that this Report [A/HRC/42/42] still lacks conceptual clarity, confusing the term "mercenaries", which has a very clear definition under the international humanitarian law, with "private military and security companies".
As we have already highlighted in the previous sessions of the Human Rights Council, the Working Group’s work would prove to be more effective if its scope were to focus more clearly on mercenaries and mercenaries-related activities.
I thank you Mr. President.