– Check against delivery –
Mr President, Madame High Commissioner, distinguished colleagues,
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*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
In the Call to Action for human rights he delivered in Geneva on 24 February, the Secretary General underlined that a “robust treaty-based system is in place, along with special procedures and accountability mechanisms.” Indeed, following the consensual adoption of resolution 68/268 in 2014, the UN human rights treaty body system has strengthened its position as a backbone for the UN Human Rights System.
Let me assure you that the EU will continue to support all efforts to provide adequate resources from the regular budget for the functioning of the treaty body system, in line with resolution 68/268. We will also support the efforts to further strengthen the role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in providing assistance to the treaty body system.
The EU welcomes the review process launched by the President of the General Assembly, and the appointment of the Permanent Representatives of Switzerland and Morocco as co-facilitators with the task of reviewing the effectiveness of the measures taken following resolution 68/268, in order to ensure their sustainability and if appropriate, to decide on further action.
The European Union considers that resolution 68/268 continues to be relevant. If fully implemented by all stakeholders, resolution 68/268 provides the appropriate framework for the treaty bodies to function more effectively. Therefore, the EU would not favour launching a multi-annual review process.
The results of some of the proposals included in resolution 68/268 are only coming fully into place now, one example being that all treaty bodies have started to offer the simplified reporting procedure. The EU encourages further use of the simplified reporting procedure.
Let me highlight in this context that Finland, a member of the EU, was the first State party to receive, prior to reporting, the lists of issues coordinated by the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The aligning of working methods and the harmonization of the reporting procedures continue to be of high importance, and in this context, the EU supports the Treaty Bodies Chairpersons' efforts to do so through their common space for deliberating and for joint decision-making, exercising their self-regulatory capacity in line with the treaties. We will continue to encourage the swift implementation of the recommendations set out in the “Position Paper on the Future of the Treaty Bodies”.
Furthermore, there is a need to address the efficiency and effectiveness of the treaty bodies to deal with individual communications within the current conventional framework.
The review process should not block steps to strengthen the treaty bodies that can be taken independently and immediately. We expect that the General Assembly will address the treaty body system as a whole and insist that the process should not lead to re-opening the human rights treaties.
The EU believes that the review of the treaty body process should continue to lead to the full and effective implementation of the human rights treaties through a higher level of compliance by the State Parties with their reporting obligations and through better follow-up of Concluding Observations of the respective Committees.
The review process also provides States with the opportunity to reflect on the selection of candidates. Together we have the duty to ensure that the Treaty Body members are competent, hold extensive expertise in the field of human rights and the highest standards of integrity, independence, impartiality and high moral standards. The mandate of each treaty body and the gender balance should also be kept in mind.
The EU will engage in the process with a view of safeguarding the independence and the integrity of the treaty bodies, and will strive for an outcome that contributes to the quality of their work and to the full and effective implementation of the human rights provisions contained in the treaties and in the optional protocols thereto. Throughout the negotiations, the EU’s main focus will be ensuring that the system enhances the protection of rights holders.
The EU strongly believes that the review process should be conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner. It should include consultations with National Human Rights Institutions and civil society, and hear the views of the treaty body members and the OHCHR. We welcome that today’s meeting is webcast and look forward to an active participation of NHRI, civil society, and other stakeholders in the forthcoming exchanges at expert level.
The EU supports a focused, transparent and inclusive process, including with consultations on substance related proposals in Geneva, as appropriate, aimed at reaching concrete outcomes during UNGA 75. We look forward to maintaining a close working relationship with the co-facilitators of the UNGA process as well as the OHCHR.
I thank you.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.