Ecosoc: Statement by Ambassador Vesa Himanen on human rights


(Geneva, 3-28 July 2006)

(General Segment)

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Vesa Himanen
Permanent Representative of Finland
on behalf of the European Union

"Report of the Commission on Human Rights on its sixty-second session" (item 14 g))

Geneva, 26 July 2006

Check against delivery

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

The Commission on Human Rights concluded its sixty-second and final session on 27 March after 60 years of dedicated work for the promotion and protection of human rights. The original mandate of the Commission on Human Rights was adopted by the ECOSOC in 1946. Ever since the Commission has significantly contributed to identifying and addressing challenges for the protection and promotion of human rights, including emerging or urgent issues and situations. The European Union appreciates the crucial role the Commission has played in enhancing the protection of human rights within the framework of the United Nations.

Despite the criticism the Commission was exposed to in recent years, its achievements in the field of norm development and standard setting are impressive. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights as well as the other core human rights instruments drafted by the Commission form a solid foundation of human rights instruments. The most recent achievements of the Commission's work for developing new standards include a draft Convention on Enforced Disappearances and a draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Both of these instruments were successfully adopted in the first session of the Human Rights Council.

The development of the system of special procedures has been one of the strengths of the Commission. The system of special procedures which the Commission established as a part of its efforts to identify and respond to human rights violations all over the world has over the years provided much needed analysis on how human rights standards are applied in reality and offered concrete guidance for their improved implementation. One of the priorities of the EU is to ensure that the system of special procedures is continued and further strengthened in the Human Rights Council.

The work of the Commission was not limited only to member states and observer states. Also the non-governmental organisations and national human rights institutions had the opportunity to raise concerns and bring human rights issues to the attention of the international community. Their continued engagement in the Human Rights Council is of greatest importance to the European Union. The Human Rights Council needs to maintain and build on the arrangements and practices established in the Commission in order to bring forth genuine dialogue and interaction with the various stakeholders.

Mr Chairman,

The establishment of the Human Rights Council marks an important step in the implementation of commitments made by our Heads of State and Government in the World Summit 2005. The Council’s output will be vital to the work of the United Nations, where human rights are now recognised as one of the main pillars of its mandate. The World Summit recognised that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.

The World Summit underlined the importance of further mainstreaming human rights throughout the United Nations system. The Summit Outcome document welcomed closer cooperation between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and all relevant United Nations bodies, including the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. In the view of the EU, human rights issues should continue to be integrated in the work of the ECOSOC. We will make every effort to ensure that the new Human Rights Council will promote effective coordination and mainstreaming of human rights within the UN system and will make recommendations to all relevant bodies with regard to the promotion and protection of human rights.

The EU continues to support the strengthening of the overall UN human rights machinery, and welcomes particularly the decision taken by the World Summit to double the regular budget resources of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights over the next five years.

Mr Chairman,

The European Union will work closely with all UN Member States to ensure that the shortcomings of the former Commission are redressed and that the new Human Rights Council shall help us to address the full range of human rights in an effective and comprehensive manner. The Human Rights Council offers us the opportunity to strengthen the implementation of human rights standards and to improve the credibility and effectiveness of the UN human rights system.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.