UN Plenary Meeting: EU Statement on Report of the Human Rights Council

UN 61st Session; Plenary Meeting, Agenda Item 68: Report of the Human Rights Council
New York, 10 November 2006

Statement by H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union

Madam President,

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

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

*) Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Madam President,

The EU warmly welcomes the report of the Human Rights Council presented by the President of the Council, Ambassador de Alba. The EU appreciates Ambassador de Alba's work as the President of the Council and wishes to express him full support.

The creation of the Human Rights Council provides new opportunities to promote and protect human rights. The first report of the Council now before the General Assembly Plenary provides a chance to reflect on the beginning of the work of the HRC. We welcome this opportunity to present our views on the first report of the Human Rights Council. In accordance with the GA decision on the allocation of this item, the account of the recommendations of the HRC to the General Assembly will be given at the Third Committee later today.

The Human Rights Council held during its first session a discussion on issues identified by the Member States and Observer States of the Council. The Council addressed the situation of human rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories, religious intolerance, the human rights of migrants, the role of human rights defenders, and the situation in Darfur after the signing of the Abuja Peace Agreement. The EU welcomed the opportunity for an exchange of views on these important issues. The EU regrets that the Council was not able to adopt substantial decisions on all these topics.

The Council also continued the work started already by the Commission on Human Rights. Resolutions were adopted on the Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on Right to Development and on the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

The two recommendations of the Council to the General Assembly, the draft resolutions on the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance and on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are to be further considered in the Third Committee later today. As the final adoption is for the Plenary of the General Assembly, the European Union wishes to express its full support to the two texts aimed at strengthening the human rights within the UN system and calls for their prompt adoption by the General Assembly at its 61st session, as recommended by the Human Rights Council.

The EU also warmly welcomed the dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Louise Arbour, during the first session of the HRC. The EU reaffirms its firm support for the work and independence of the High Commissioner and her Office, which makes a crucial contribution to the better promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. Apart from other important functions, an active role of the High Commissioner in contributing to an effective and operational Human Rights Council is crucial.

The EU wishes to reiterate its commitment to an open and constructive dialogue among all stakeholders, including the valuable contribution of the NGOs, on various human rights questions in the framework of the HRC. We should all continue efforts towards a constructive dialogue on all issues, including the most difficult questions. We welcome the similar efforts to promote dialogue made by a number of other delegations.

Madam President,

In accordance with the GA resolution 60/251, the first session of the Human Rights Council decided to extend all the mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities of the Commission on Human Rights which were thus assumed by the Human Rights Council. This important consensus step prevented a protection gap during the Council’s transitional year. As the system of Special Procedures is crucial to ensure the effective promotion and protection of human rights, the EU firmly believes that in the context of the review process the system should be further strengthened. All States should fully cooperate with Special Procedures in order to contribute to their effective functioning and to translate the dialogue with Special Procedures into operational outcomes.

Also other positive steps concerning the future work of the Council, such as the decision to establish a working Group to develop the modalities of the Universal Periodic Review, were taken during the first session in accordance with the GA resolution 60/251. The EU expects the UPR to develop into a meaningful mechanism complementing other forms of activity of the HRC related to country situations and to bring real added value. The EU will continue to play an active role to this effect.

The EU emphasises the importance of making progress on these two important issues in a timely manner. . In the meantime, the EU looks forward to work with all stakeholders in a constructive and consensual manner in the framework of the Working Groups.

Madam President,

The EU believes that special sessions of the Council are a way to make an efficient contribution to the protection and promotion of all human rights for all. It is important that the Human Rights Council addresses urgent situations and expresses a united view. This requires genuine discussion and consultations.

At the first special session on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory the EU expressed its concern about the situation which had evolved between Israel and the Palestinians and called on all parties to abstain from any actions that violate international humanitarian and human rights law. The second special session took place following the escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and Israel. The EU deplored the loss of innocent lives and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable cease-fire.

The EU would have preferred to have the Council adopt texts addressing the situations in a more balanced manner and reflecting all relevant aspects of the crisis, and regretted that no genuine discussions took place, as provided for in the resolution 60/251.

Madam President,

It is important that the HRC fulfils effectively its mandate relating to prevention and addressing situations of human rights violations worldwide. The EU is determined to work towards these goals with all stakeholders also in resuming the second session of the HRC and in the upcoming third session of the Human Rights Council.

Thank you, Madam President.