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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania , and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
Human rights, and the normative system based on human rights, play a key role 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 Council has the potential to take early preventive action, identify violations and abuses and thereby contribute to accountability.
The EU remains concerned about the funding situation affecting UN’s human rights mechanisms, including the Treaty Bodies, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Only 4 % of the UN General Budget is allocated to the UN human rights pillar. Cuts to the UN general budget should not disproportionately affect the full functioning of the UN’s human rights bodies and mechanisms to carry out their mandates effectively. Cutting human rights funding, means undermining the United Nations in its entirety.
In relation to the cooperation with the UN and its human rights mechanisms, the EU calls on all States, and in particular, the members of this Council, to take all necessary measures to end, prevent, protect against, investigate and ensure full accountability for acts of intimidation or reprisal. We also invite States to follow up on the cases related to their own country and provide substantive responses where they remain outstanding.
The EU is also very concerned that an increasing number of States refuse to grant the OHCHR and the human rights mechanisms access to their territories or specific regions. An effective system of Special Procedures requires the cooperation of States. The 28 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. The EU calls on all States to support the OHCHR and the human rights mechanisms, to grant unhindered and full access and to issue a standing invitation to Special Procedures.
The EU fully supports the Special Procedures in their valuable work for the respect and promotion of the U.N. human rights architecture. Covering all human rights worldwide special procedures can offer crucial advice to the international community and if their advice is acted upon in a timely manner it can help countries to improve their human rights situation as well as prevent further human rights violations. In this context, we encourage all States that have received visits to engage with special procedures and this Council and inform how they have addressed the recommendations received.
The European Union believes that scrutiny applies to all, and therefore attention should be paid to all UN member states, not only those that have issued standing invitations. In this regard, we welcome the recent inclusion of the issue of cooperation in the Annual Report of Special Procedures, as well as the statistics presented in the Annual Facts & Figures reports. We also welcome the presentation of the report by the Coordination Committee Chair under Item 5 during the March sessions. This occasion should be used to clearly highlight both the cases of cooperation including good practices and the cases of non-cooperation in order to make them more visible. We encourage the Coordination Committee to continue to explore ways to improve the meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders to better encourage cooperation and to increase the cost of non-cooperation.
The EU reminds that Members of this Council and candidates for membership are required to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and have a particular responsibility to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms.
Lastly but not least, the EU reiterates the importance of ensuring a safe and enabling environment for all civil society actors who remain invaluable partners for human rights mechanisms and play a vital role in the Council.
*The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.