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

HRC 45 - EU Intervention: Item 5

Geneva, 30/09/2020 - 16:56, UNIQUE ID: 200930_13
Statements on behalf of the EU

Statement by H.E. Mr. Michael Freiherr von UNGERN-STERNBERG Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany on behalf of the European Union


Madame President, 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.

Human rights, are indispensable in ensuring the success of the other two pillars of the UN. In working closely with the UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner, the Human Rights Council has the potential to take early preventive action, identify violations and abuses and thereby contribute to accountability.

In this regard, we remain deeply concerned about the financial plight of the UN’s human rights mechanisms and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We call on all UN Member States to fulfil their obligations. Cuts to the UN general budget should not disproportionately affect the functioning of the UN’s human rights bodies and mechanisms.

The Special Procedures are this Council’s eyes and ears and serve as an early-warning mechanism on deteriorating human rights situations. The EU will reject attempts to undermine the independence of the special procedures. Having said this, special procedure mandate holders have to live up to their mandate, also during the even more challenging times of COVID.

In this regard the EU welcomes the continued efforts of the Special Procedures system to enhance its coordination, in particular through the action of its Coordination Committee as well as the efforts of the Committee to maintain a constant dialogue with States and other stakeholders.

At the same time, an effective system of Special Procedures requires the cooperation of States. The EU is very concerned that an increasing number of States refuses to grant the OHCHR and the human rights mechanisms access to their territories or specific regions. The 27 EU Member States have issued a standing invitation to all Special Procedures and the EU institutions have welcomed all Special Rapporteurs that have requested visits regardless of whether we supported the establishment of the mandates.

We encourage all states to issue a standing invitation to all special procedures and to cooperate fully.

In order to be effective, human rights have to be implemented. The EU acknowledges the importance of National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting and Follow up and that they play a role in this regard.

We remain deeply concerned about continued reports of acts of intimidation and reprisal against individuals and members of civil society who cooperate with the Council and its Human Rights mechanisms.

We urge all States to respond to cases of alleged reprisals and to provide information on measures taken to prevent and address acts on intimidation or reprisals, including on cases mentioned in the reports of the UN Secretary General.

We take note of the Human Rights Advisory Committee’s report on “the importance of a legally binding instrument on the right to development”.

The EU would like to reiterate that we are not supportive of the idea of elaborating a legally binding instrument as the way forward. We do not see the added value of such a legal instrument if not all states agree on its underlying premises and therefore are unlikely to ratify it.

The EU fully supports a human rights-based approach to development, recognizes the central role of individuals as bearers of human rights and human beings as subjects of development. The EU remains strongly committed to promoting respect, protection and the fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, these elements mutually reinforcing each other.

Thank you.




* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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