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On 22 March, Taiwan and the European Union (EU) held their first annual Human Rights Consultations, which were held in a friendly, open and constructive atmosphere in Taipei. In addition, the European delegates also met with Taiwanese civil society organisations.
Taiwan is an established, pluralistic democracy that shares the universal values of human rights and rule of law with the EU, which was confirmed in these Consultations. The EU commended in particular Taiwan's far-reaching human rights agenda and encouraged Taiwan to actively communicate internationally about its human rights model.
Taiwan and the EU exchanged views on the universality of human rights, i.e. human rights as consubstantial with human dignity, an important principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which we celebrate the 70th anniversary this year. The EU commended Taiwan for having voluntarily incorporated the provisions of the main UN human rights covenants in its national law, inquired about remaining conventions and expressed interest to support the international review mechanism Taiwan has put in place. A specific point of the agenda was devoted to the idea of establishing a fully-fledged National Human Rights Institution.
The EU and Taiwan also discussed business and human rights. The EU encouraged Taiwan to present a national action plan on corporate social responsibility or Business and Human Rights and offered its support in this regard.
The EU and Taiwan also raised the question of support for human rights defenders and updated each other on respective policies on LGBTI and gender equality. The EU congratulated Taiwan for its continuous effort to strive for more gender equality and establishing a LGBTI friendly environment. Taiwan encouraged the EU to invite representatives from Taiwan to participate in related conferences or fora hosted by the EU.
The EU reiterated its longstanding position that the death penalty has no deterrent effect and is an inhumane form of punishment that cannot be reversed. The EU expressed its readiness to share its experience.
The EU and Taiwan also focused on migrant workers' rights, especially in the fishing industry, as well as domestic and industrial workers. While welcoming recent awareness raising actions, as well as first regulatory steps to ensure the adequate treatments of fisheries workers, the EU underlined the importance of proper implementation and encouraged further regulatory steps Taiwan should take to better align with international standards. The EU also underlined the importance of improving the conditions for domestic workers, including necessary measures to address labour protection issues.
Taiwan and the EU agreed to hold human rights consultations next year in Brussels and to enhance cooperation on the topics raised during the consultations.