Delegation of the European Union to the
UN and other international organisations in Geneva

Outcomes of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council from the European Union perspective

24/03/2017 - 23:58
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The 34th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC34) finished today, marking the end of four weeks of intense negotiations on a wide variety of human rights issues.

The EU led four resolutions at this session, underlining our strong commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights,” said Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. “We are thankful to all States and stakeholders for their active participation in the negotiations. I would like to extend my particular gratitude to the Government and the Permanent Mission of Myanmar for close contacts at all levels during the negotiations on the resolution on Myanmar," he added.

The EU-led resolution on the “Situation of human rights in Myanmar”, adopted without a vote, asks the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint an independent international fact-finding mission "to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State." This resolution also provides for an extension of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, inter alia for further work on the "implementation of the proposed joint benchmarks, and for progress in priority areas of technical assistance and capacity-building". The EU welcomes the continued cooperation of the Government of Myanmar with the UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee.

Throughout the session, the EU reiterated its strong support for the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and his Office (OHCHR), whose integrity, independence and effective functioning in delivering his mandate is crucial. We also continued to promote and defend NGO participation in the work of the HRC and underlined the importance of creating a safe and enabling environment for NGOs and human rights defenders.

"This Council carries a major responsibility in the eyes of the citizens of the world," said EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, on behalf of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at HRC34. "It is the shared duty of the international community to keep the work of this Council rooted in facts, in the situations on the ground, and to reject any attempt to divert or weaken its work. The EU remains committed to engaging in the spirit of partnership and cooperation with partners from all regions to reach lasting solutions that advance human rights."

During the 34th session, the EU also focussed on the following issues:

  • We are pleased that the EU-led resolution on the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB) was adopted without a vote. The resolution calls for greater protection of persons belonging to religious and other minorities against persecution and violence.
  •  Jointly with the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) the EU presented a resolution focussing on the rights of the child in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The resolution also renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material.
  • Given the grave human rights situation and the lack of action by the Government of the DPRK, the EU together with Japan presented a strong and clear resolution. It renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and addressed the most pertinent issues, including on accountability, also following up on relevant recommendations made by the Group of Independent Experts on Accountability.
  •  The dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria was once again in the spotlight of this HRC session. The EU fully supported the extension of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) and demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the CoI. 
  • We are concerned about the spike in hostilities in Ukraine documented by the OHCHR report. During the Interactive Dialogue we highlighted that the respect and implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties is the only way to sustainable political solution that is based on respect for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence.
  • We remain extremely concerned by the human rights situation in Burundi and therefore welcomed the opportunity to receive a first update of the newly-created Commission of Inquiry at HRC34.
  • We are appalled by the continuation of atrocious human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan. We welcome the adopted resolution extending the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for another year, and also newly tasking it to determine, collect and preserve facts and evidence on all such acts. The material will be made available to the soon-to-be established Hybrid Court with a view to contributing to accountability, which the South Sudanese people have been awaiting for so long.
  • The EU is very concerned about the increased level of violence and human rights violations in the DRC during the past months, especially in the Kasais. During the Interactive Dialogue we reiterated our calls on the Government to ensure credible investigations, and to also allow for international investigation of these acts in support of domestic efforts. We will continue to closely follow the situation.
  • The EU welcomes the Council's discussion on the situation in Guinea, where justice for the atrocious human rights violations of 28 September 2009 is about to be achieved through upcoming trials. We called for swift and impartial judicial proceedings and reiterated the EU's commitment to continue to support the country's recovery process in this sense.
  • In light of persisting human rights concerns in Iran and with a view of improving the human rights situation, the EU supported the resolution which will ensure further extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
  • The EU actively engaged in the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the human rights of migrants in the context of large movements, reiterating our strong support to the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants and our firm commitment to fully respect and protect the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status.
  • We are pleased that the Council has renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. This mandate is crucial in advancing and protecting the rights of all those courageous women and men around the world who work tirelessly to defend human rights, often facing personal risks and sacrifices.

In the margins of HRC34, the EU Delegation organised several side events, including "Leave no Child Behind: Launch of the 2017 EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child" and "Freedom of Religion or Belief – Discussing an Agenda for Implementation" with EU Special Envoy for FORB outside the EU, Jan Figel. Furthermore, the EU co-sponsored a side event on accountability for human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the DPRK, as well as a debate on protecting the rights of unaccompanied child refugees and migrants. The EU also co-sponsored the Geneva-based International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights. 

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