Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU priorities for the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council

21/02/2020 - 14:03
News stories

From 24 February to 13 March 2020 the EU will participate actively in the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC43) taking place in Geneva, taking a strong stance in the protection and promotion of Human Rights and against any attempts to redefine human rights in international law and international human rights standards.

"Human rights are universal and indivisible”, says Ambassador Walter Stevens, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. “They should be discussed based on facts and not instrumentalised by states. Positive developments should be fully acknowledged."

"In that regard, I am especially pleased that at the margins of this session, we host an event on the Good Human Rights Stories in Geneva, to recognize concrete achievements by states in fulfilling their human rights obligations and learn from and be inspired by good and useful experiences of what is working with regards to human centred policies,” Ambassador Stevens underlines. "Very often, we hear about human rights violations, shrinking civil society space, and of dire human rights situations – but we also look at the good policies of states that have made societies more democratic, inclusive and based on the rule of law. In this spirit, the EU will continue to be a leading player in the Human Rights Council and actively promote human rights for all."

At the upcoming session, the EU will present four resolutions: 

The EU-led resolution on the human rights situation in the DPRK aims at keeping this dire situation, which continues to take a heavy toll on the population, high on the HRC agenda. The regime must immediately end human rights violations, rapidly improve all human rights, and engage with the UN Human Rights System. We will therefore lend our continued support to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, as well as the accountability project implemented by the Seoul Office of the OHCHR.

The human rights situation in Myanmar remains of grave concern and it is important that the Council continues to speak on this matter with a strong voice. We will present a resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and call for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and underline the importance of the work of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.

The EU continues to promote the protection and fulfilment of the human rights of all children, particularly those in vulnerable situations. To this end, the EU, together with the Group of Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), will present a resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children.

We remain committed to the promotion of freedom of religion or belief and condemn persecution, discrimination and violence against persons, based on religion or belief, and unlawful violations of this fundamental right.  At HRC43 we will therefore present the traditional EU-led resolution on freedom of religion or belief, which urges States to step up efforts to respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom of religion or belief and condemns obstacles to the enjoyment of this right and its violations.

The EU will also address dire human rights situations, engaging strongly in negotiations on resolutions on Syria, Libya, South Sudan, and Nicaragua, and in dialogues on Burundi, Iran, Yemen, Venezuela, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this context, we also recall that all UN members, in particular members of the HRC, should uphold the highest human rights standards and fully cooperate with the HRC and its mechanisms. At HRC43 we will also engage in the interactive dialogue on Ukraine.

The full and meaningful participation of civil society actors and human rights defenders, at the UN Human Rights Council and beyond, remains a strong priority for the EU. At this Council session, we will continue to strongly support the protection of human rights defenders and promote NGO participation in the Council.

In the year of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and women's full enjoyment of human rights, without discrimination on any grounds, which will also be the main focus of the high-level panel debate of the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative. We will also co-organize a side event on freedom of religion and belief and gender; and co-sponsor an event to promote child rights entitled "Digital Child Dignity". We will further put a spotlight on the human rights situation in Syria with a side event on "Gender crimes and protection of children in Syria" as well as the screening of Oscar-nominated movie "The Cave" on 9 March at the Graduate Institute in the presence of the heroine of the film, the doctor leading the underground hospital in Aleppo. Further information on all EU-sponsored side events will be published on the EU Delegation's website.

Eamon Gilmore, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, will deliver the EU statement on behalf of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell at the high-level segment of the Human Rights Council. He will also represent the EU at two high-level panels, participate at the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative event and meet with several dignitaries attending the session.

All EU statements and interventions at the Human Rights Council will also be published on the EU Delegation's website and updates will be regularly posted on the EU Delegation's Twitter account @EU_UNGeneva.

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