Mr. President, High Commissioner, distinguished colleagues,
The EU strongly supports the UN Human Rights system, and aims to provide leadership in the multilateral system. Human rights and the rule of law are part of the EU's DNA. We are on the side of those who seek justice, and will continue to provide assistance and protection to those who risk their lives or personal freedom for their advocacy of human rights and democracy.
The EU reaffirms its firm support to the OHCHR and to Ms Bachelet personally. The EU welcomes the ongoing reflection by the High Commissioner on the way to best respond to human rights violations and abuses. We believe that it should include stronger advocacy efforts vis-à-vis countries attempting to relativise human rights by depicting them as ‘Western values’, but as well a positive narrative. The EU-led “Good Human Rights Stories” Initiative, launched at UNGA with the support of many of the Council members, is a promising initiative in this respect.
The EU welcomes the package of measures regarding HRC efficiency agreed in December, as well as the improved cross-regional confidence and ownership across the HRC it has built.
We should also aim to ensure better complementarity between what is done here in Geneva and what is done in New York, for instance by looking at a better access of the High Commissioner to the Security Council. We should as well redouble our work at mainstreaming human rights throughout the UN system and when possible feeding the outcomes of the HRC into the discussions in the Security Council.
During the 40th session the European Union will present four initiatives, and support or engage in the negotiations of a number of others. Beyond its traditional partners, the EU will aim to seek engagement with all states on both thematic issues and country situations.
While acknowledging the opportunity created by the inter-Korean talks, and remaining ready to critically engage with the DPRK on concrete improvements, the EU invites the HRC to approve a resolution recalling the dire human rights situation in the DPRK and, on this factual basis extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
Following last September joint EU-OIC resolution on the situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, which establishes a mechanism to collect, analyse and preserve evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011, and given the persisting grave situation in the country, we are convinced that monitoring and reporting is still needed, and will therefore present a resolution under item 4 calling for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. This resolution will ask for a swift operationalisation of the new mechanism, and underscore the importance of accountability. The EU calls on all HRC members to support this resolution.
During this session, the EU will once again table a resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons belonging to religious minorities remain widespread across the world. I call on all HRC members to support this resolution, which renews the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur.
The EU - GRULAC resolution on the rights of the child will focus on the empowerment of children with disabilities, for enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education. The EU calls on the HRC to support this initiative.
Finally, the EU reiterates its call upon all states to grant unconditional and unhindered access to the UN and UN mandate holders. In this vein, we urge China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We also call for access for human rights monitoring mechanisms in the illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and areas of eastern Ukraine currently not under the control of the Government, Myanmar, the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, and Yemen.
I thank you for your attention.