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EU should take lead in favour of a strong and effective Human Rights Council

EPP-ED Group press release
Brussels, 26 September  2008
European Parliament

Laima Andrikienė MEP (EPP-ED, LT): "EU must have a clear vision, political agenda and long-term strategy as regards the functioning of the UNHRC as well as the action by the EU Member States within the Council".

An Extraordinary meeting of the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights took place on the 25th October during which the first draft of the Motion for the resolution on the Development of the UN Human Rights Council including the role of the EU was presented by the rapporteur Laima Andrikienė. During the discussion a consensus emerged on the need for the EU to adopt a critical but constructive approach in order to ensure that the new body lives up to its responsibilities.

Laima Andrikienė during the presentation of the draft report stressed that "UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) set itself an ambitious programme for its first two years, which included the review of its procedures and working methods, in particular the development and implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the review of Special Procedures".

"EU has been a strong supporter and advocate of the establishment of the UNHRC, and the EU and its Member States have committed themselves to make every effort in order to ensure that the UNHRC will be able to fulfil its mandate responsibly and effectively", - underlined Laima Andrikienė.

Laima Andrikienė noted in her speech that the UNHRC has the potential to develop into a valuable framework for the European Union's multilateral human rights efforts and regretted the fact that during the first two years of its activities this new body has not achieved more substantial progress on improving the United Nations' human rights record. Laima Andrikienė in particular regretted the failure of the HRC to take action on many of the world's most urgent human rights situations, partly due to the growing reluctance of numerous UNHRC States, who oppose to considering country situations, arguing that this would politicise the Council.

On the other hand Rapporteur welcomed the fact "that the UPR has provided an incentive to many States to commit themselves to reporting to treaty bodies and ratifying outstanding treaties and even adopting national legislation to abide by obligations stemming from treaties they had adhered to".

Laima Andrikienė also regretted that "first two sessions of the UNHRC have not entirely lived up to the expectations for an “objective, transparent, non-selective, constructive, non-confrontational and non-politicized" UPR process" and in this regard she stressed "that this objective can be achieved only if the review involves independent expertise at all stages of the review process and an effective, result-oriented follow-up mechanism".

While speaking about NGOs activities, Laima Andrikienė welcomed "the retention of the practice of the participation of human rights NGOs in the debates and hoped that this participation will be improved and strengthened in the future".

Finally, Rapporteur welcomed "the active participation of the EU in its first years of functioning of the UNHRC, namely through sponsoring or co-sponsoring resolutions, issuing statements, intervening in interactive dialogues and debates". She also noted the fact "that the EU opposes the presentation of “clean-slates” by regions, which results effectively in EU Member States competing between themselves for election to the HRC.

Laima Andrikienė stressed "the fact that the EU finds itself in numerical minority in the HRC, which certainly presents a challenge for making its voice heard" and in this regard welcomed "the increasing trend for EU Member States to intervene in the debates in addition to the EU Presidency" and also called on EU Member States to reinforce the EU’s message by speaking for "one message, but with many voices".

Finalising the presentation, Laima Andrikienė once again reaffirmed "the need for a clear vision, political agenda and long-term strategy as regards the functioning of the UNHRC as well as the action by the EU Member States within the Council".

For more information:

Laima Andrikienė MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845858

Živilė Didžgalvienė, EPP-ED Group Press Service, Tel: +32-475-751627

Notes to Editors:

Laima Andrikienė is the EPP-ED Coordinator for the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights.

The EPP-ED Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 288 Members from all 27 Member States.