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

Outcomes of the 35th session of the Human Rights Council from an EU perspective

23/06/2017 - 18:07
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From 6 to 23 June 2017 the Human Rights Council (HRC) gathered in Geneva, addressing a wide range of human rights violations and abuses across the globe. "At this session the European Union led a resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus, extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and addressing recent developments on the ground, as well as concerns over the continued application of the death penalty," says Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations in Geneva. "The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has also been a priority for us at this session: we warmly welcome the adoption of a resolution requesting a team of international experts to investigate allegations of gross human rights violations in the Kasai provinces", adds Ambassador Sørensen. "The European Union has been working closely with the African Group to secure the broadest support possible for this resolution, which sends a strong message about the need for accountability. Since the investigation team will be directly appointed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, we expect that it will conduct investigations in a fully independent manner, according to international standards, as mandated by this Council. We naturally count on the full cooperation of the Government of the DRC with the investigation team, providing the unfettered access – on which the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has insisted - to territory, persons and information related to their investigation."

During the 35th session, the EU also focussed, among others, on the following issues:

Throughout the session, the EU continued to promote and defend NGO participation in the work of the HRC, including by defending the NGOs' right to speak. We underline once again the need for a safe environment for human rights defenders.

Syria: We condemn in the strongest terms the systematic violations of international humanitarian law as well as the violations and abuses of international human rights law, for which the regime bears the greatest responsibility. We are committed to ensuring accountability for them, including for those which may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity committed by all parties. At this HRC session we therefore renewed our call on the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. We also called for unhindered access of the Commission of Inquiry and support for the swift operationalization of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.

Women's human rights and gender equality: Ambassador Mara Marinaki, Principal Gender Advisor of the European External Action Service, attended the 35th session and underlined the EU's strong commitment to achieve gender equality, to empower women and girls and to advance their rights as a matter of priority. At the session we lend, inter alia, our support to the resolutions on 'Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women' and 'Elimination of discrimination against women'.

Ukraine: Ongoing human rights violations and abuses committed at the expense of people living in areas of eastern Ukraine currently not controlled by the Ukrainian government and in the illegally annexed Crimea are unacceptable and must end. At HRC35 we therefore expressed our strong support to extend the useful oral updates of the OHCHR on the situation at the next sessions of the Council and encouraged Ukraine to pursue its cooperation with the OHCHR on these essential topics.

Burundi: At the Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi we expressed our continuing concern about the persistent and grave human rights violations in the country, the ongoing impunity for the authors of these violations, and the absence of the necessary measures to re-open the political space and re-establish the Rule of Law. We regret that the Government of Burundi refuses to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry and recall that Burundi, as a current Member of the Human Rights Council, has a particular responsibility to lead in example on promoting human rights and cooperating with international human rights mechanisms.  

Business and Human Rights: The EU welcomes the continued leadership by the core group (Argentina, Ghana, Norway, Russian Federation) on Business and Human Rights in this Council. The adoption without a vote of a solid resolution renewing the mandate of the Working Group reaffirms a global commitment to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including their provisions on access to remedy


Public events: In the margins of the Council, the EU co-hosted the event 'It takes a world to end violence against children' on 13 June 2017 and was part of this year's 'Barbershop' event on mobilizing men and boys for gender equality.


All statements and interventions made on behalf of the EU will be put on our website.

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