The European Union and its Member States thank the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants for his report, focusing on the impact of migration on women and girls.
The EU shares the concerns of the Special Rapporteur on the specific risks faced by migrant women and girls and supports the need to strengthen the formulation and implementation of gender-responsive migration objectives, policies and programmes while respecting national competences and to mainstream gender in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The EU recognises the contribution of migrant women and girls to inclusive growth and sustainable development. Under EU legislation, Member States have to take into account the specific concerns of migrant women and girls, particularly in cases where they are victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The EU recognises trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation as structural violence against women and girls.
The Special Rapporteur has also presented the report on his country visit to Niger. The report significantly discusses EU policies and programmes in Niger and provides a number of recommendations specifically to the EU: of these we take note. However, we believe that the report does not present an accurate overview of the EU support to Niger and does not adequately reflect the progress achieved over the past years thanks to a coordinated action between the UN and the EU in partnership with the Government of Niger. The EU refutes the claim that our cooperation with Niger has resulted in human rights violations and a worsening of the situation of migrants. It is precisely because many vulnerable migrants in Niger suffer abuses that the EU is stepping up protection, and is working to break the business model of illegal smuggling which jeopardises human rights in the first place.
Niger is a key partner to the EU in the Sahel region, and prime recipient of several forms of development aid. Through the European Development Fund and the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, among others, the EU is supporting state-building through assistance provided in areas such as education, food security, governance, and justice. EU action also contributes to national and regional efforts to address instability, irregular migration and forced displacement while aiming at strengthening local efforts to protect migrants, address trafficking in human beings and migrants smuggling.
EU cooperation has significantly increased the number of migrants benefitting from protection and voluntary return while ensuring their sustainable and dignified reintegration. This includes the funding for the IOM-run Response Mechanism and resources that have provided direct assistance to over 24,000 migrants in Niger alone. In general, addressing the push and pull factors of irregular migration and safeguarding the human rights of migrants constitutes a joint international responsibility of all countries or regions of origin, transit, and destination.
Mr Gonzales, we reiterate the invitation we extended last year to visit the EU institutions so as to engage in a constructive and factually-based dialogue on relevant EU policies and programmes.
Turning on to the Special Rapporteur on international solidarity
The European Union and its Member States would like to thank Mr. Obiora C. Okafor for his presentation.
While the EU reiterates its commitment to the moral and political commitment of international solidarity which is deeply embedded in the EU’s external action, as demonstrated only moments ago in the preceding dialogue, it is our firm belief that matters falling outside of legal or human rights scope should be addressed at different forums.
Your visits to two EU Member States in the year 2018 underlined the positive impact of a human-rights based approach when addressing global challenges such as the climate change and migration issues.
What practical measures do you recommend to strengthen the human-rights based approach across the United Nations system?
I thank you.