HRC52 Item 2 General Debate on HC oral update


HRC52 Item 2 General Debate on HC oral update

EU Statement

Mister President,

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

The candidate countries North Macedonia and Montenegro[*], the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia is grossly violating international law, including the core principles of the UN Charter. Those responsible for the ongoing grave and massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including sexual and gender-based violence and crimes against children, such as forcible transfers and deportation, will be held accountable. We once again call on Russia to immediately, completely and unconditionally stop its ongoing aggression and fully respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

The EU welcomes the report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Guatemala and, mindful of the upcoming elections, expresses serious concerns about the deterioration of the rule of law in the country, in particular the continuous intimidation and persecution of independent judicial operators and journalists. The EU is concerned by the situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala, including environmental human rights defenders, and calls on the Government to guarantee their protection. The EU continues to call on the authorities to guarantee the safety and human rights of detainees and remains committed to supporting inclusive and sustainable development in Guatemala based on a mutual adherence to human rights.

The EU welcomes as well the report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Honduras and is concerned by the increasing number of attacks against human rights defenders, independent journalists, and environmental activists. The EU remains committed to supporting ongoing efforts to strengthen the rule of law, good governance, and the protection of human rights in the country.

On Colombia, the EU highly commends the work of the High Commissioner and his Office in Bogota in monitoring and promoting human rights in the country. The EU welcomes the recent extension of the mandate of the Office until April 2032. The EU firmly supports the Government’s efforts to achieve comprehensive peace in Colombia, put an end to decades of internal conflict and curb violence, notably against social leaders, indigenous and afro-Colombian leaders and communities, and human rights and environmental defenders.

On Venezuela, the EU highly commends the recent visit of High Commissioner Türk to the country and welcomes the extension and reinforcement of his Office in Caracas for another two years. The EU will continue supporting the Office’s great work, as well as that of the UN Fact-Finding Mission, and calls on Venezuela to cooperate fully with all relevant international human rights mechanisms. The EU reiterates its strong concerns about the human rights violations in Venezuela, including acts of repression against political actors, human rights defenders, and representatives of independent media and civil society and joins the High Commissioner’s call for political and judicial system reforms to ensure the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of arbitrarily detained prisoners. The EU also expresses concern about the proposed law to regulate and criminalize NGOs in Venezuela in the context of a deepening humanitarian crisis. We remain convinced that any sustainable way out of the crisis in Venezuela can only be reached through inclusive Venezuelan-led political negotiations. We welcome the resumption of the negotiations in Mexico last November and the social agreement reached by both parties. We continue to urge all parties to engage in good faith and make progress on political issues with a view to finding a peaceful and democratic solution to the multidimensional crisis, through free and fair political elections.

The EU appreciates Cambodia’s cooperation with the HRC and its mechanisms and welcomes the progress on some economic and social rights, such as right to education. However, the EU is concerned about the use of criminal procedures against opposition politicians to silence political dissent. The EU notes with great concern the conviction of opposition leader Kem Sokha on 3 March 2023, which effectively excludes him from political life, and therefore continues to deprive Cambodia’s citizens of the right to choose their representatives in inclusive and credible elections. The EU is deeply concerned about the decision of the government in February to revoke the license of Voice of Democracy to continue to operate as an independent media outlet. Media freedom and pluralism, access to information and freedom of speech are basic tenets of a democratic society. The EU continues to call on Cambodia to immediately release Mr Kem Sokha, to reinstate his political rights and to ensure the conditions conducive to inclusive and credible elections in July 2023.

The EU welcomes the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (PCoHA), signed by the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation front (TPLF) in November 2022. The EU commends both parties on the progress already made in the implementation of the PCoHA. Accountability and transitional justice must remain at the core of the peace and reconciliation process. The EU supports the ongoing efforts towards the establishment of a credible transitional justice mechanism, in accordance with international standards and principles. The EU encourages the Government of Ethiopia to demonstrate its commitment to accountability by cooperating with the OHCHR and the International Commission of Human Rights Experts (ICHREE) to help ensure the Government of Ethiopia’s stated goals of independent, transparent and impartial investigations into all allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law.

The EU is extremely alarmed about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, caused among others by the M23 offensive in North Kivu. The EU urges M23 and all the parties to the conflict to work, in good faith, towards peace and stability, unequivocally support the Luanda and Nairobi processes, and implement the decisions taken within their frame, including an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal from occupied areas. The increasing violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the litany of   brutal attacks on civilians by local and foreign armed groups must cease. Those responsible must be brought to justice. The EU reiterates its attachment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries in the region and stresses that any support to or collusion with non-state armed groups by any state of the region must cease immediately. The EU condemns xenophobia, hate speech and incitement to violence against any person on the grounds of their race or ethnic origin.

On Yemen, EU is very concerned by continuing stalemate in the political situation and stands by its position: it is crucial to support UN-led peace efforts to extend and expand the truce and to obtain a political solution, as it has put an end to cross-border attacks and improved lives of millions of Yemenis. The EU reaffirms its commitment to unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen; full support to President Al Alimi and unity of the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), as well as to UN peace efforts and (UNSE) Grundberg. The EU remains extremely concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen, especially in view of the global food crisis, precipitated by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The EU calls on the parties to ensure full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian supplies and personnel, in accordance with international humanitarian law and principles. The EU is concerned about continued reports of serious human rights violations and abuses throughout the country, regarding freedom of expression, gender equality, the situation of migrants, and restrictions to the work of humanitarian and development workers. We urge all parties to uphold international human rights law and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. The EU encourages the international community to seek options to prevent and address impunity for human rights violations and abuses to avoid further suffering of Yemenis.

Concerning Egypt, the EU welcomes the one-year implementation report on the National Human Rights Strategy and continues strongly encouraging its prompt and effective implementation, particularly in relation to the legislative track, together with civil society. The EU welcomes the draft bill addressing the right to equal pay and the addition of an article prohibiting all forms of sexual harassment, violence, assault and abuse of power in the workplace. The EU notes positively the releases granted by the Presidential Pardon Committee but remains concerned about former detainees’ reintegration to society. The EU is also concerned about reported cases of new arbitrary arrests and the extensive use of pre-trial detention. The EU reiterates its call to improve inmates’ treatment, and release imprisoned human rights defenders and journalists and ensure a safe and enabling space for civil society. The EU recalls the importance of upholding online and offline freedom of expression, media freedom, and rights to peaceful assembly and association in Egypt. The EU reiterates its call to shed light on the circumstances of the death of Giulio Regeni and Eric Lang and bring about justice. Regarding capital punishment, the EU reiterates its call on Egypt to suspend executions as a first step and to establish a formal moratorium with a view to its abolition.

The EU remains concerned that the continuing disruption to freedom of movement through the Lachin corridor is affecting human rights in Nagorno Karabakh, including rights to health, education and food. The EU calls on the Azerbaijani authorities and all responsible to guarantee freedom and security of movement along the corridor, in line with the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020, and to abide by the order of the International Court of Justice of 22 February 2023. The EU urges Azerbaijan and Armenia to continue to engage in dialogue, including at the leaders’ level. We look forward to continuation of President of the European Council Michel facilitated peace process.

The EU calls on Bahrain to maintain its human rights obligations and commitments including as regards to human rights defenders.

In Lebanon, nearly three years after the blast of the port of Beirut that killed 200 people and injured 7000 people, a swift, independent, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation into the explosion must be carried out in order to uphold the right of the victims to effective remedy and to adequate, effective and prompt reparation for harm suffered.

The EU welcomes Vietnam’s membership in HRC and progress on certain rights. However, we remain deeply concerned over the continued limitations to freedom of expression, including the shrinking space for civil society. The EU calls on the authorities to ensure space for civil society to participate freely in all aspects of development, to release all those imprisoned for having peacefully expressed their views and to guarantee the right to a fair trial for all. Regarding capital punishment, the EU reiterates its call on Vietnam to suspend executions as a first step, and to establish a moratorium with a view to its abolition.

The EU remains committed to supporting Sri Lanka in its process of economic recovery and advancing the reconciliation agenda and justice reform, in full respect of democratic values and freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. We call on the government of Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with the OHCHR and other UN human rights mechanisms to ensure the fulfilment of human rights as well as accountability and reconciliation and to conclude the reform of the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act, bringing the law in line with international human rights standards.

The EU refers to its statements on the situation in Sudan, Eritrea, and South Sudan in the relevant Interactive Dialogues.

Thank you,


[*] North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.