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This Council will be the last session for departing High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. "On behalf of the EU, I would like to thank High Commissioner Zeid for his tireless commitment over the past four years. Through his courageous leadership he gave a voice to those around the world who see their human rights violated," says Ambassador Peter Sørensen, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. "The EU is and will remain a staunch advocate for the mandate and work of the High Commissioner and his Office and the entire UN human rights system in addressing human rights abuses and violations."
In a year where we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, we are concerned by the increasing pressure against Human Rights Defenders: violent attacks, forced disappearances, threats, intimidation, harassment and reprisals are too often inflicted on Human Rights Defenders worldwide. The EU will actively support the resolution on civil society space and will continue to defend civil society organisations fighting for human rights, individual human rights defenders, bloggers, journalists and human rights lawyers. We pay particular attention to the specific risks faced by women human rights defenders, a topic which will also be high on the agenda of this Human Rights Council session.
The upcoming HRC session is a major forum for discussions and actions around gender equality, girls' and women's rights and their empowerment. We will be strongly engaged in the negotiations of all gender-related resolutions presented at HRC38. Ambassador Mara Marinaki, the European External Action Service's Principal Advisor on Gender and on the implementation of UNSCR 1325, will engage in the annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women and attend several side events.
The EU will also present a resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus at HRC38, taking into account the overall situation and ongoing developments in the country. We will propose to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and emphasise the need for improvements with regard to the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as our opposition to the continuing application of the death penalty.
The dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deserve the HRC's full attention. We will strongly engage in the negotiation of a resolution on the human rights situation in Syria. The Syrian conflict has entered its eighth year of continuous and widespread violence and persistent violations of international law. The EU will remain at the forefront and relentlessly pursue accountability for the atrocities committed in the Syrian conflict. We support the important role of the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism. The EU reiterates its call to have the situation in Syria referred to the International Criminal Court.
The EU remains concerned about the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). With regard to the alleged human rights violations in the Kasai regions, the European Union will work with its African partners to ensure a meaningful and concrete follow-up to the findings of the Group of International Experts, paving the way for justice and accountability.
The European Union will also again actively participate in the Interactive Dialogues on Ukraine and Georgia.
Side events: The EU will organise and co-sponsor several events in the margins of the Human Rights Council. This includes an event on challenges facing civil society organisations with the presence of the Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’ Flaherty. We will also co-sponsor an event on 'Legal Frameworks to End Female Genital Mutilation' and 'Best practices for the Reintegration of Girls in Street Situations'. More information on all events can be found on our website.
All EU statements and intervention at the Human Rights Council will be posted on the EU Delegation's website. Updates will also be regularly posted on the EU Delegation's Twitter account @EU_UNGeneva.