The EU and its Member States are committed to the protection and promotion of universal values. From 27 February to 24 March 2017, the Human Rights Council will once again gather in Geneva, mobilizing the international community to address and respond to human rights violations and abuses across the globe. "Today's increasingly complex crises as well as widespread violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms require ever more determined efforts by the EU," says Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. "We will do so by presenting four resolutions ourselves, engaging in negotiations on HRC resolutions led by other countries and participating in dialogues with UN special procedures," he adds. "We will also give further priority to the role of civil society organisations and human rights defenders, including the defence of already shrinking civil society space."
During the 34th session, the EU will focus on the following thematic priorities:
Freedom of Religion or Belief: The EU will once again lead a resolution on FORB, promoting the freedom of conscience, thought, religion or belief, condemning intolerance, discrimination and violence, including against persons belonging to religious and other minorities across the world. The resolution will continue to urge States to step up their efforts to promote and protect this fundamental freedom.
Rights of the Child: This year the EU will, together with GRULAC, put forward a resolution focussing on the rights of the child in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. In addition, the resolution will renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, suggesting changing the name into 'Special Rapporteur on Sale of Children and Sexual Exploitation'.
Human Rights Defenders (HRDs): In light of increasingly shrinking civil society space in many areas of the world, vocal support for HRDs is ever more crucial. The EU will therefore fully support the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, a crucial tool for millions of brave HRDs worldwide, and a way to give their work due international recognition.
With regards to country resolutions the EU will focus on:
DPRK: The EU together with Japan will again present a strong and clear resolution addressing the grave human rights situation in the DPRK. The draft resolution will include a renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and also reflect on the latest reports of the Special Rapporteur and of the Group of Independent Experts on Accountability.
Myanmar: Recent developments in the country show that serious human rights concerns remain, notably with regard to persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, and it is vital to closely follow the situation. The EU will therefore present a resolution recommending reinforced and timely action to address these issues and renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, while recognising the first positive steps taken by the new government.
Syria: It is important that the HRC addresses once again the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria. The further extension of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) is a clear EU priority. We will also support the swift operationalization of the recently created International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria and its close cooperation with the CoI.
Burundi: The EU remains extremely concerned by the human rights situation in Burundi and will continue to closely follow developments on the ground as well as the first update to be issued by the newly-created Commission of Inquiry at HRC34. It will continue to closely follow the situation and engage with the government of Burundi, African and like-minded partners.
South Sudan: The newly established Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan will present its first report to the HRC. We are particularly concerned about continuing reports of sexual and gender-based violence and ethnically motivated killings. We will support the extension of the Commission's mandate and its expansion to include investigation of all alleged violations.
Ukraine: The EU continues to closely follow developments in Ukraine, notably in light of recent developments on the ground. We will actively engage in the Interactive Dialogue on Ukraine and we will follow closely reports by the OHCHR Monitoring Mission as a valuable source of impartial information.
DRC: In this very sensitive political phase it is important that OHCHR and the High Commissioner closely follow the human rights situation in the country and inform the HRC as and when appropriate. The Interactive Dialogue will be an opportunity for detailed assessment of the human rights situation on the ground.
Public events: On 6 March the EU will organise a side event, presenting the updated EU Guidelines on the rights of the child and launching the new #EU4children campaign. On 8 March, the EU will host a panel debate with Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU and Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on FORB. The EU will also co-sponsor several additional side events of partners, underlining in particular its commitment to the rights of the child. Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights will attend the high-level segment of HRC34 and will also speak at several public events. More information on our website.