European Union External Action

EU priorities for the 40th session of the Human Rights Council

22/02/2019 - 11:19
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From 25 February to 22 March 2019 the 40th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC40) will take place in Geneva. The EU stands united as a staunch supporter of the UN Human Rights system and will continue to actively uphold, defend and promote its values throughout 2019 as a priority of our external action. We are committed to continue to work with all stakeholders in order to strengthen the Human Rights Council while protecting the Council’s achievements and recognising its unique role and added value.

The EU will lead a resolution at HRC40 on the human rights situation in Myanmar. "The resolution will renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and will call for a swift operationalization of the new independent mechanism, which was established by the Human Rights Council in September 2018 with overwhelming cross-regional support," explains Ambassador Walter Stevens, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. The EU will continue to underline the importance of ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims and encourage Myanmar to cooperate with all UN mandates. Throughout the Council session, we will engage with key partners, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as with Myanmar.

The human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) remains extremely serious. "This is why the EU and Japan will present again a resolution on the situation of human rights in the DPRK during the 40th session of the Human Rights Council," says EU Ambassador Walter Stevens. The international community must continue to call upon the DPRK to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and the recommendations contained in the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, at the initiative of the EU and Japan. "Significant steps have been taken recently as regards the accountability for human rights violations in the DPRK, in particular the establishment of a dedicated team at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights tasked with conducting monitoring and documentation activities with a view to ensure accountability. These efforts must be continued," underlines Ambassador Stevens.

We will also actively pursue our thematic human rights priorities at HRC40. The 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2019 is both an important milestone and an opportunity to renew our commitment to ensure the full implementation of the Convention worldwide, as well as to evaluate the progress made since the adoption. Together with the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) the EU will spearhead a resolution on the rights of the child with a special focus this year on empowering children with disabilities, including through inclusive education. The EU will also lead a resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief, renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. "The freedom of religion or belief constitutes a fundamental priority on the EU's agenda and is a key element of the EU's human rights policy" emphasizes EU Ambassador Stevens. 

Our support for civil society and human rights defenders remains steadfast and we will therefore fully support the resolution at HRC40 on human rights defenders, with this year's focus on environmental human rights defenders.

The EU will remain highly active on many other topics which will be addressed during the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, working with partners and seeking to build cross-regional coalitions. We will continue to support the documentation of all violations of international human rights law, in particular systematic, widespread and gross violations and abuses of human rights, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity, or war crimes. Efforts to gather evidence in view of future legal action by mechanisms such as UN-mandated Commissions of Inquiry and International Mechanisms are crucial, e.g. in the cases of Burundi, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen, as a way to prepare the ground for holding to account those who have perpetrated grave crimes, including through the ICC and the action of national jurisdictions. We will equally be strongly engaged in resolutions and interactive dialogues on other country situations such as Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Iran, Ukraine and South Sudan. In the latter instance, in particular, the EU supports the extension of the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

The EU will organise an co-sponsor several side events at HRC40, including on 6 February on Freedom of Religion or Belief with UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed and Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy on the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. We will also co-organise several side events on the issue of the rights of the child. On 26 February the EU and China jointly organise a side event on the rights of people with disabilities. All side events will be announced here.

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

Please also see the EU Council Conclusions on EU priorities in UN human rights fora in 2019

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