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From 24 June to 12 July 2019 the EU will participate actively in the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC41) taking place in Geneva, underlining that the protection and promotion of human rights is and will remain the central policy of the EU's external action. "We believe that the need to promote multilateral solutions is more urgent than ever," emphasises Ambassador Walter Stevens, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. "The EU continues to be a staunch supporter of the UN Human Rights system and we will therefore have a strong voice at this Council session," he continues.
At HRC41, the EU will take the lead in a resolution drawing the attention to the human rights situation in Belarus. Restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country remain in place. Belarus also continues to apply the death penalty, to which the European Union reiterated its unequivocal opposition. Belarus’ recent openness to cooperation in promoting human rights in international fora, including cooperation via UN mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review and some UN Special Procedures mandate holders, is a positive development. At the same time, further cooperation by Belarus with UN human rights procedures is needed.
The EU will also actively engage with partners and all relevant stakeholders to secure a strong resolution on Syria, condemning the persistent, widespread, systematic and serious human rights violations by all parties, particularly the Syrian regime and its allies. "We also reiterate our calls for the release of all arbitrarily held detainees and request information on cases of forced disappearances," says Ambassador Stevens. The EU will therefore organise an event on this topic entitled "Missing – Testimonies of Syrian women deprived of liberty", taking place on 28 June.
During HRC41, we will also continue to pay close attention to human rights situations in Sudan, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Venezuela.
Women's rights and gender equality will feature very high on this Council session's agenda. "The full enjoyment of all human rights by all women and girls and their empowerment is a matter of priority to us and we will therefore continue to ensure the integration of the gender perspective throughout the work of the Council," underlines EU Ambassador Stevens. Mara Marinaki, Principal Advisor on Gender and on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security of the European Union's External Action Service, will attend the Council and represent the EU in the annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women. Furthermore, we will strongly engage in negotiations on gender-focused initiatives, including the resolutions on violence against women and girls, discrimination against women and girls, as well as equal pay and child, early and forced marriage. Together with the African Union, the EU will co-organise a side event on women's economic empowerment on 27 June in the margins of HRC41.
We strongly oppose all forms of discrimination and violence, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We will therefore actively participate in the negotiations of the resolution on the mandate renewal of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The EU has -and will continue to - engage with UN mandate holders focussing on violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, or any other grounds, and we will support continued UN work in this regard.
The EU remains committed to the principle of shared responsibility and the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants. At HRC41 we will therefore constructively engage in all debates and initiatives in this regard.
"Support to civil society and human rights defenders runs like a golden thread through our work," said Ambassador Stevens. "We will therefore ensure that their voices are heard and will continue to oppose and condemn intimidation, harassment and reprisals against individuals and groups attending the HRC or cooperating with the UN system."
The EU co-organises together with civil society and government partners several side events in the margins of HRC41, including on "(Mis)Understandings of Freedom of Religion or Belief and Freedom of Expression across the world" and "The 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - Time for transformative action". Further information on EU-organised side events can soon be found here.
Eamon Gilmore, who took up his function as EU Special Representative for Human Rights on 1 March 2019, will attend the Council and represent the EU at several occasions.
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.