The fourth European Union (EU) – Taiwan Human Rights Consultation took place on 15th July 2021 by video conference. The consultation, formally opened by EEAS Deputy Managing Director for Human Rights, Global & Multilateral Issues Kristin De Peyron, was co-chaired on the EU side by Luisa Ragher, Head of Human Rights Division, and Jonathan Hatwell, Head of Division for China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Mongolia, and on Taiwan side by Ping-Cheng Lo, Minister without Portfolio.
The annual Human Rights Consultation between Taiwan and the EU is a valuable platform for both sides to update each other on the human rights situation and progress in law, policies and actions made over the past year, share experiences and exchange points of view, and strengthen cooperation on specific human rights issues. The EU and Taiwan reaffirmed their firm commitment to promoting and protecting human rights and democratic principles and acknowledged that human rights must be at the heart of the COVID-19 response and recovery. The EU reiterated its longstanding position against the death penalty and called upon Taiwan to pursue efforts to abolish the death penalty. Moreover, the EU welcomed the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission of Taiwan on 1 August 2020. The EU presented the key features of the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024 and the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.
Taiwan and the EU reaffirmed an important convergence of positions on gender equality and the protection of rights of LGBTI persons. Both sides also took stock of the latest policy developments as regards gender equality and women’s rights and equality for LGBTI persons. Both sides agreed to continue their successful cooperation in this area, in particular within the EU-Taiwan Gender Equality Cooperation and Training Framework (GECTF) for the period 2019-2023.
On Business and Human Rights, the EU welcomed the adoption by Taiwan of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights on 10 December 2020, which made Taiwan one of the first in Asia to have initiated such a National Action Plan. Taiwan and the EU will work together to foster businesses’ respect for human rights. Furthermore, the EU informed Taiwan of the adoption, on 13 July 2021, of the guidance on due diligence for EU businesses to address the risk of forced labour in their operations and supply chains.
Moreover, the EU stressed the importance of promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers who are in an even more vulnerable situation because of the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing the domestication of existing international obligations, in particular ILO Work in Fishing Convention No. 188 that has been facilitated by the EU’s Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument (TAIEX). Taiwan informed the EU that a National Action Plan on Fishing and Human Rights is under preparation.
The EU and Taiwan discussed the human rights situation in Asia as well. Both sides commended the key role of human rights defenders for the advancement of human rights, democracy and the rule of law and presented specific challenges and risks, which human rights defenders face today. Taiwan stressed support provided to international journalists and international non-governmental organisations in the region. Both sides will continue to protect human rights defenders and support their peaceful work in defense of human rights and democracy.
The meeting was constructive and confirmed that Taiwan and the EU are like-minded in many ways and share common values, such as the respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Both sides agreed to continue their cooperation on human rights, in particular on the human rights issues raised during the Consultation.