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2008-02-20
Dr. Laima Andrikiene on the 7th session of the UN Human Rights Council

EP plenary session
Strasbourg
20 02 2008

Dear President - in - office,

Madame Commissioner,

The European Parliament is sending its delegation to the 7th session of the UN HRC. The delegation will be mandated to voice European Parliament“s concerns on UN HRC work and will report to the Subcommittee on Human Rights on its visit.

We see the seventh session of the UN HRC as to be a crucial one, because it will be the first one to examine a large range of substantial issues under the new working methods stemming from the institution - building reforms package adopted in 2006 and 2007. The credibility of the UN HRC rests on the implementation of these reforms and mechanisms, and our goal is to strengthen Council“s ability to address human rights violations around the world and especially the most urgent ones.

We pay tribute to the positive results of the UN HRC, in particular the development and implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the review of Special Procedures, as well to the positive achievements of the UN HRC presidency. We welcome participation of the civil society, human rights defenders and Special Procedures which are at the core of the UN human rights machinery, playing a critical role especially in the Human Rights Council. At the same time we do not support, we condemn certain decisions of the HRC, like for instance, not to renew the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on Belarus and Cuba.

Taking into account lessons of the past we stress the importance of competitive elections to be held in all regions in order to provide real choice among UN Member States, and the reason is our regret that some countries with problematic human rights records have so far been elected. Once again I call on the Council, Commission and Member States to continue to press for the establishment of membership criteria for election to the UN HRC, including the issuing of permanent invitations to Special Procedures.

Speaking about the EU involvement we recognise the active role of the EU and its Member States in the first year of work of the UN HRC. It is very important for the EU to speak with one voice to address human rights issues, and we call on the Commission and the Council to adopt a "common position" so as to ensure EU members automatically sign and ratify all international human rights instruments.

And last, but not least: we, the EU should make more effective use of our aid and political support for third countries, so as to give them incentive to cooperate with the UN HRC.