During the dialogue, the delegations had the opportunity to engage on a wide spectrum of sensitive issues in a constructive and meaningful manner. Topics ranged from the ratification status of international human rights conventions to the rights of vulnerable groups, from women and children's rights to rights of persons with disabilities and included also human trafficking, freedom of assembly and association and freedom of expression.
Individual cases of persons who have been detained or have disappeared were also discussed. In this respect, the EU expects the Lao PDR to uphold its commitments under national and international law and to ensure the implementation of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly which are guaranteed by the national Constitution revised in 2015, and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Lao PDR expects the EU to uphold human rights in fighting terrorism and in dealing with the migration crisis.
The EU encouraged the Lao PDR to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The EU encouraged the Lao PDR to issue standing invitations to all UN Special Rapporteurs. The Lao PDR said it would continue issuing invitations on a case-by-case basis.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which underpins international system of human rights. This should provide further impetus to the efforts in promoting the respect of essential rights and freedoms. In this context, both delegations agreed to strengthen their cooperation on the promotion and protection of human rights in bilateral and international fora, including through engagement within UN human rights mechanisms.
The EU noted the Lao government's efforts to become a rule of law state in accordance with the National Master Plan 2020 and improve access to justice, and encouraged Lao PDR to further improve in this area, including with EU support.
Both sides also discussed the link between human rights and the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
At the Dialogue, the Delegation of the European Union was headed by Mr. David Daly, Head of South East Asia Division at the European External Action Service while the Delegation from the Lao PDR was led by Mr. Phoukhong Sisoulath, Director-General of the Department of Treaties and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting was attended by representatives from several Ministries and Institutions of the Lao PDR, the EEAS and the European Commission.
While in Brussels, the Lao PDR delegation also met with EU officials to discuss the functions of the European institutions, visited the European Parliament and participated in a workshop on the role of civil society in Belgium and in the EU in promoting gender equality. The Lao PDR delegation also received briefings on the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice during a visit to The Hague.
The next meeting of the EU – Lao PDR Human Rights Dialogue will be held in Vientiane in 2019.