Home » Posts tagged "Environment" (Page 19)

General Assembly on HIV/AIDS

Note:  A complete summary of today's General Assembly meeting will be available after its conclusion.

Opening Remarks

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said it was hard to believe that some 34 million people had died from AIDS-related diseased and that 14 million had been orphaned as a result.  It was harder to believe that approximately 6,000 new HIV infections occurred daily and that some 36.9 million people were living with AIDS.  That was unacceptable in a world of incredible possibility.  “Today is the moment, therefore, that collectively, we signal our intentions to strike out for victory, to fast-track efforts over the next five years and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” he said, emphasizing the impact of HIV/AIDS on development, economic growth and conflict and post-conflict situations.  He also noted how the epidemic had affected women and girls more than any other group, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and had an impact on young people, those who injected drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people and prisoners.

In recent years, he said, there had been strong progress towards the goals and targets set out in 2011.  While reflecting on that progress and preparing for the next five years, the high-level meeting would identify best practices and lessons learned while determining how to overcome obstacles, plug gaps and address evolving challenges and opportunities.  “If we want to reach our 2030 target,” he said, “all stakeholders must now step up to the plate”, with greater global solidarity, more resources and greater collaboration and partnership.  More attention needed to be paid to equality, inclusion and the empowerment of women and girls by ensuring that key populations were included in AIDS responses and services were made available to them.  Ultimately, he said, there needed to be accountability for commitments made.  “Ending the AIDS epidemic would be one of the greatest achievements of our lifetime,” he said.  “It can be done and it must be done.”

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that a decade ago, AIDS was devastating families and communities.  In many low-income countries, treatment had been scarce.  In 2007, only 3 million people – one third of those in need – had access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs.

Enormous progress had been made, he said.  Since 2000, the global total of people receiving that treatment had doubled every three to four years because of less expensive drugs, increased competition and new funding.  Today, more than 17 million people were being treated, saving millions of lives and billions of dollars.  Moreover, the world had achieved Millennium Development Goal 6, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and had halted and begun to reverse its spread.  New HIV infections had declined by 35 per cent since 2000, while AIDS-related deaths had fallen by 43 per cent since 2003.

He said such success could not have happened without the leadership of people living with HIV and civil society partners, who had broken the silence and shone a light on discrimination and intolerance.  Investment in the AIDS response had strengthened health systems, social protection and community resilience.

Yet, AIDS was far from over, he went on to say.  In the next five years, there was a window of opportunity to “radically change” the epidemic’s trajectory and end AIDS forever.  “If we do not act, there is a danger the epidemic will rebound in low- and middle-income countries,” he said.  Action now could avert an estimated 17.6 million new infections and 11 million premature deaths between 2016 and 2030.  Such successes would require commitment at every level, from the global health infrastructure to all Member States, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and to the Security Council, which had addressed AIDS as a threat to human and national security.

“I call on the international community to reinforce and expand the unique, multisector, multi-actor approach of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),” he asserted, and ensure that the annual target of $26 billion in funding, including $13 billion over the next three years, was met through the Global Fund’s fifth replenishment.  That required continued advocacy and approaches that promoted gender equality and women’s empowerment.  It also meant removing punitive laws, policies and practices and providing access to HIV services without discrimination.

The future of people with HIV/AIDS must be central to every decision, he said.  Indeed, the AIDS response was a source of innovation and inspiration, showing what was possible when science, community activism, political leadership, passion and compassion came together.

MICHEL SIDIBÉ, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said today’s important Political Declaration would open a new door for ending AIDS.  “We, the peoples, have broken the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” he declared, highlighting that the number of new infections and related deaths had significantly been lowered and results had been delivered on the 2011 Political Declaration.  Recalling that in the General Assembly Hall, in 2001, someone had stated that treatment could not be provided to the poor, as it would be too expensive, he pointed out that at that time, treatment for each individual had cost $15,000 annually whereas today, that figure had dropped to less than $100 per person per year.

Providing some concrete results, he said it was the first time in history of HIV/AIDS that Africa had reached the “tipping point”, with more people on treatment than being newly infected.  While that was truly amazing, West Africa and Central Africa had been left behind, he said, urging leaders to mobilize energy to triple the initiation rate of treatment within three years.  It was important, after all, not to have a “two-speed” approach to the disease on the continent.

In addition, he said, the once distant dream to end mother-to-child transmission and create an AIDS-free generation was becoming a reality.  Cuba had eliminated such transmission and, yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) had certified that Thailand, Belarus and Armenia had done the same.  Many other countries would follow, he said.

Continuing, he said that four years ago, more than 58,000 babies in South Africa had been born with HIV/AIDS.  Today, there were less than 6,000 such cases.  Further, more than 80 countries had shown they would soon achieve the goal, as they had less than 50 babies born each year with HIV.  One by one, the bonds of discrimination and exclusion were being broken, he said, underlining the importance of including prisoners, migrants, people with disabilities, men having sex with men, people who used drugs, sex workers and transgender people.

“The door to the United Nations should be open to all,” he stressed.  “We cannot afford to silence their voices, as we come together to chart a course towards ending AIDS.”  The rights to health and dignity must be universal, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  The AIDS response had always been about partnership, innovation and social transformation and had produced unprecedented results:  8.8 million deaths had been averted.

But, those gains were fragile, he said.  Women were being raped, exploited and infected at the same rates as 20 years ago.  Adolescent girls remained “shockingly” vulnerable, with discrimination still pushing people into the shadows and preventing them from accessing life-saving treatment.  A prevention revolution was needed that placed young people at its centre.  It was unacceptable that 20 million people continued to die because of a lack of access.

“AIDS is not over,” he stressed, emphasizing that the next five years would be critical in placing countries on the “fast track”.  Testing should be normalized and the 90 million people who did not know their status must be reached.  “If we do not act now to break the backbone of the epidemic, once and for all, the world will never forgive us,” he said.  “We can do it.  We must do it.”

LOYCE MATURU, from Zimbabwe, described how in 2002 she lost her mother and brother to tuberculosis and AIDS and how, two years later, at the age of 12, she learned that she too had the same illnesses.  “It was the most depressing moment for me,” she said.  “I cried.  I thought I was going to die, but here I am today.”  In 2010, facing emotional and verbal abuse from a family member, she tried to kill herself with an overdose of medication.  After going to the hospital and receiving “massive counselling”, she told herself she would live to make sure that peers living with HIV became confident, healthy and hopeful for the future.  She said that today, she was thankful to be among 17 million people who represented the success of HIV treatment, but she was tired to see others with HIV die every day.

Identifying access and availability of treatment as a major challenge, she went on to emphasize the need for Governments not to exclude such persons as sex workers, those who inject drugs, prisoners and migrants.  While HIV treatment might be free, most clinics charged administrative fees that many could not afford.  Stigma remained a big barrier that had led to adolescents being denied jobs and scholarships, she said, appealing for investment in support mechanisms and advocacy for adolescents and young people with HIV/AIDS.  Without training for health-care workers on providing client-friendly treatment services, the next generation would face the same problems as the current one.  Noting that ending the epidemic would require teamwork, she said the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS must take advantage of the upcoming International AIDS Conference to start drawing a road map towards that objective, and for the Global Fund to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to be fully funded.  She concluded by urging participants to trust and believe adolescents and young people in their countries to help shape the way society thought about HIV/AIDS.

NDOBA MANDELA, a grandson of former President Nelson Mandela, from South Africa, recalled the death of his father from AIDS.  Citing his grandfather’s determination that his only son would not die in vain, he said the former president had prompted a national dialogue on AIDS in South Africa and global action around the world.  Given those efforts, he asked that participants at the high-level meeting continued Madiba’s legacy and ensured that none of the 34 million people who had died with AIDS did so in vain.  Going forward, “90-90-90 by 2020” should be a milestone for every country.  Yet, the epidemic would not be ended by treatment alone.  It would be a crime for the tools that stopped HIV infections were not used fully and immediately, he said, asking participants to ensure that persons at risk were able to live unafraid of arrest, physical danger or discrimination simply because of who they were or who they loved.

“Bigotry and fear do nothing but spread the [HIV] virus,” he said, asking the 35 countries with travel restrictions on foreigners living with HIV/AIDS to lift them immediately.  Echoing the call of his mentor, Michel Sidibé, he called for the end of AIDS to be the first target of the Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by his generation.  Asking that all high-level meeting participants get tested for HIV, he said “always carry two condoms — one for you to use without fail and another to give to someone who isn’t carrying their own”.  Doing so did not cost much, but its impact would be priceless.  Lives would be saved and it would be the best down payment on ending AIDS.  The eyes of millions of people living with HIV were on the high-level meeting and they were counting on delegates to make an unprecedented commitment to end AIDS and for promises to be kept.

Action

A number of delegations took the floor before the vote on the draft resolution titled “Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS:  On the fast-track to accelerate the fight against HIV and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030” (document A/70/L.52).

The representative of Argentina, speaking also for Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay, welcomed gains achieved in addressing HIV/AIDS.  At the same time, he acknowledged critical gaps, reaffirming the commitment to full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the International Conference on Population and Development and its Programme of Action and the outcomes of their review conferences, and the previous HIV/AIDS political declarations.

He strongly reaffirmed the commitment to end new HIV/AIDS infections by 2030, including in conflict, post-conflict and other humanitarian crises.  Through evidence-based policies, he reaffirmed all human rights for all without distinction, with an emphasis on addressing structural inequalities for those who were living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.  He called for enhancing health-care systems and capacities for broad public health measures, condemning discrimination, stigma and violence, including hate crimes, against people living with, presumed to have, at risk of and affected by HIV, including by strengthening legal protections.  He committed to respecting the full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, expressing grave concern that AIDS was the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally.

The representative of Cuba said he had joined consensus on the Political Declaration, recognizing with concern that some challenges it contained should have been reflected more clearly.  The right to health must prevail over material, technological or intellectual ownership.  No legislation or practice should limit universal access to treatment, he said, stressing that it was unacceptable that price limited such access.  Comprehensive sexual education was essential to working with young people and adolescents, requiring resources to transfer the best technologies without conditions, under the auspices of the WHO and UNAIDS.  Realization of the right to development would ensure victory over HIV/AIDS, he said.

The General Assembly then adopted draft resolution “L.52”.

Speaking in explanation of position after the action, the representative of Iceland said he had joined consensus on the text and aligned with Argentina’s statement, reiterating the commitment to end the AIDS epidemic.  Iceland was against the term “sex worker”, as it was an incomplete reference to a key population group.  Thirty-five per cent of women globally would experience sexual and intimate violence in their lifetimes.  Bold actions were needed through a health system response and a multisectoral approach.  Also, Iceland qualified prostitution in all its forms as sexual violence, as the act of buying sex was incompatible with human dignity.  Iceland’s approach supported access for those who sold sex to health commodities.  The term “sex work” implied that selling sex was legalized, which was not the case in a large majority of countries.  In that context, it was important to recall the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women referred to prostitution, rather than “sex work”.  When referring to “sex workers”, there was a risk that those who did not sell sex for a profession were not covered by that term.  It excluded those forcibly sold into the sex industry.  UNAIDS had defined the sale of sex of those under 18 as “sexual exploitation”.  The term also excluded people younger than 18 years old.

He proposed that “people who sell sex” was a more complete reference to those vulnerable to HIV as a result of selling sex.  It was the term UNAIDS had used for those under and over the age of 18 years, and had allowed for variation among countries that had different legal frameworks, such as his own, which criminalized only the buyer.  Nothing in the text gave UNAIDS a mandate to advocate for the legalization of sex work.  The aim was to focus on the equitable deliver of treatment, care and support to those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

The representative of Singapore reaffirmed her country’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  While joining consensus on the Political Declaration, she said the reference to “harm reduction” in paragraph 43 called on States to consider ensuring access to such approaches.  However, a range of approaches should be available to States.  It was not useful to attempt to prioritize strategies at the global level.  In Singapore, harm-reduction strategies were not relevant, since it had only a few cases of transmission through drug use.  Singapore took a balanced approach to drug policies, with effective enforcement, rehabilitation and community partnerships to facilitate reintegration.

The representative of Canada said his delegation would have preferred that the Political Declaration had contained a call to end stigma, discrimination and violence against key populations.  Canada strongly supported evidence-based harm-reduction measures and called upon Member States to consider their implementation.  Going forward, Canada would continue to work in close partnership with civil society and those at risk of infection.

The representative of Sudan, expressing a number of reservations, said the Political Declaration included several not-agreed-upon terms, such as “sexuality”, which ran counter to the legal frameworks of several countries, and “comprehensive education”, which meant comprehensive sexual education, a notion that violated the United Nations Charter and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  “Key populations” referred to a few groups and other parts of the Political Declaration included principles that contradicted several traditions and religions.  Sudan supported the principle of sovereignty, which was every Member State’s right, and renewed its commitment to ending the proliferation of HIV/AIDS.

The representative of the United States said that while the Political Declaration was necessary step, it was far from perfect and its language could have been stronger with regard leaving no one behind.  Despite medical advances, there had not been so much progress on preserving human rights and preventing stigma, discrimination and violence against those living with HIV/AIDS.  Comprehensive services needed to reach the most vulnerable populations and it was imperative to measure and change the dynamics driving stigma and discrimination, she said, adding that AIDS would not end without the protection of sexual and reproductive rights.  She went on to express a number of reservations, including the United States’ concern regarding the right to development, which had no internationally agreed meaning.

The representative of Australia called the Political Declaration “a milestone” in the fight against HIV/AIDS, placing a human rights approach to ending HIV at its core, and recognizing the need empower women and girls, including their sexual and reproductive rights, as central to ending HIV.  She urged States to see it as a minimum starting point to ending AIDS.  The Political Declaration should have gone further to include key populations.  Australia’s HIV/AIDS response was informed by “evidence of what works”, which included engaging key populations with services that delivered a high impact at lower cost.  Disappointed the text did not call to end stigma violence facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender people globally, she condemned any efforts to interpret HIV/AIDS transmission as a criminal issue.

The representative of Djibouti underscored a national determination to implement non-discriminatory policies to eliminate AIDS by 2030.  Emphasizing the importance of leadership and national ownership in those efforts, she welcomed paragraph 4 for reaffirming States’ sovereign rights and the need to implement the Political Declaration in line with federal laws, development priorities and different cultural, religious and other values.  For Djibouti, key and vulnerable populations were women and young people.  References to sexual and reproductive health should not be interpreted as an appeal for people living with HIV/AIDS to interrupt their pregnancies, she said.  National efforts on that issue consisted of eliminating mother-to-child transmission and she urged continued support for those initiatives.  Djibouti ensured access to sexual and reproductive health services for all women under commitments made at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.  Paragraphs 14 and 61 of the Political Declaration did not imply a reinterpretation of the Cairo Programme of Action and could not be interpreted as a guarantee of uncontrolled access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago recognized the importance of paragraph 4, noting that health-care services, including in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, were provided to all citizens.  The provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis, however, went against his country’s post-exposure prophylactic policy.  Such an approach could give a false sense of security and encourage risky behaviour.  He was pleased to join consensus and pledged to implement the Political Declaration in line with national priorities.

The representative of Indonesia said the most effective way to eradicate HIV/AIDS was outlined in paragraph 57, through differentiated responses based on national ownership, local priorities, drivers, vulnerabilities and aggravating factors.  Paragraph 42 emphasized that each country should define vulnerable populations.  For its part, Indonesia recognized that such populations included those at a higher risk of HIV transmission.  On paragraph 39, he supported reducing risk-taking behaviour.  Stopping the virus required encouraging avoidance behaviours, such as abstinence and fidelity, which were the most effective ways to stop transmission.  Any reference made to adolescents should be interpreted as a reference to a “child”.  He was concerned at the use of “people who use drugs” as it had a different meaning than the agreed term.  More broadly, he said terms used in the Political Declaration would not serve as precedents for future decisions in other fora.

The representative of Egypt said his country had joined consensus on the Political Declaration, despite that it contained controversial points that did not reflect consensus on social, cultural and religious diversity.  His Government would implement its commitments as part of international and regional strategies to combat HIV/AIDS.  He dissociated himself from paragraphs 42, 62 (e), (g) and (h), as well as 61 (n) and (j), expressing concern at the multiple terms used, such as “people at high risk”, “key populations”, “high-risk populations” and “populations at risk because of epidemiological evidence”, which were not in line with Egypt’s values.

The representative of Iran said his country was committed to providing the widest possible access to care, treatment and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.  It was a public health issue and Governments were obliged to ensure the highest attainable health and well-being standards for all citizens.  It was expected that the Political Declaration would have avoided discriminatory approaches, but it was unacceptable that it had avoided appreciating risk-avoiding measures, such as fidelity and abstinence.  He expressed a reservation to any part of the Declaration that contravened Iran’s legal framework or religious and cultural values.  He reserved Iran’s position on de facto definitions, in paragraphs 42 and 62 (e), as they disregarded national circumstances.  Also, any reference to “children and adolescents” would take into account the roles and responsibilities of their parents.  He expressed concern that such misplaced terms as “people who misused drugs” were being used in the context of HIV/AIDS.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, reiterated States’ sovereign right to implement national programmes that were in line with legislation and religious, ethical and cultural values.  He expressed reservations about paragraphs 42 and 62 €, which used “key populations”, 60 (h) and 62 (g), which discussed “vulnerable populations”, as well as paragraph 61 (l).  Forced and early marriage was a crime under various conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  He expressed a reservation about the term “sexual rights”, as it was important to consider national and regional specificities, cultural values and other aspects.

The representative of Mauritania said it was clear that AIDS was a serious danger and a huge challenge.  However, the Political Declaration included principles with which he could not agree, he said, expressing reservations about all concepts that ran counter to national legislation.

The representative of Libya echoed the view expressed by some other delegations that the Political Declaration ran counter to national legislation and Muslim traditions.  However, his delegation had joined consensus, mindful of the need to address the illness.  Once his country had achieved stability, it would contribute to eliminating the illness so that Africa could enjoy sustainable development by 2030.

The representative of the Russian Federation said there was no doubt about the need to step up efforts to combat the spread of HIV infections.  However, she said, the main responsibility for protecting populations from infections rested with the States themselves.  She expressed disappointment that, unlike the 2011 declaration, the focus had shifted from real measures to help countries to end the epidemic to other questions that did not enjoy a large consensus.  She expressed a number of reservations, including the obligation to reform national legislation with respect to infected populations and the language regarding key groups and sexual education.  In her country, implementation would be carried out only in line with national policies and traditions.

The representative of Yemen, echoing concerns that had been raised by some of his counterparts, expressed reservations about terminology that ran counter to national legislation.

The representative of the Holy See said that, in combating discrimination and stigmatization, a difference needed to be made with measures to prevent risk-taking behaviour.  The only safe and reliable method of preventing the sexual transmission of AIDS was abstinence before marriage and respect for fidelity in marriage.  The Holy See did not consider abortion as a dimension of reproductive health.  Regarding contraception and condom use, he reaffirmed his support for the family planning methods that the Catholic Church considered morally acceptable.  Among other reservations, he said his delegation understood the term gender as referring to persons born male or female.

Statements

ROCH MARC CHRISTIAN KABORÉ, President of Burkina Faso, said the fourth national HIV response document covering 2016 to 2020 was part of national strategic plans that prioritized high-impact methods.  In turn, the strategic national framework was part of international efforts to end HIV/AIDS by 2030.  Citing gains, he said Burkina Faso had lowered and stabilized HIV/AIDS prevalence, increased access to treatment and was seeking innovative ways to mobilize resources.  Prevalence had fallen to 0.9 per cent in 2014 from 1.2 per cent in 2011, with priority given to reducing mother-to-child transmission.  The Government had been providing free antiretroviral treatment to people with HIV/AIDS since 2010, he said.

Urging more needs-based adaptions of strategies, including for vulnerable and high risk groups, in order to control transmission, better target interventions and strengthen both the gender and human rights aspects of care and support, he said additional efforts were needed to reduce new infections among women and young people and from mother-to-child with a view to achieving the 90-90-90 objective by 2020.  For its part, Burkina Faso was also determined to improve budget allocations to fight HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, he said.

ROXANA GUEVARA, Vice-President of Honduras, said intelligent investments were needed to reduce new HIV/AIDS infections and related deaths, stressing the strategic importance of prevention and guaranteed access to key populations, with an emphasis on adolescents and young people.  Condemning the assassination of a well-known leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and/or intersex community of Honduras, a crime that had had homophobic characteristics, she stressed that the Government had ordered an investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.  Honduras was limited by resources, but had the will to enhance care, treatment and support for people living with HIV.  She appealed to donors to continue their support and to others that had withdrawn their assistance to restore it.  Violence and discrimination persisted, she said, urging that barriers to testing and care be dismantled.  Emphasis must be placed on young people and their rights.  Resources must also be used to target key populations, people of African descent, indigenous peoples, migrants, women, men, adolescents and young people, she said, calling for the allocation of resources, increased availability of diagnostic tests, promotion of responsible sexual conduct and the protection of the lives of the unborn.

TIMOTHY HARRIS, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the region had made great strides between 2006 and 2015.  The HIV prevalence rate had been halved and the estimated number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy had increased from 5 to 44 per cent.  Despite progress made, the region was second to sub-Saharan Africa in its prevalence rate.  The vast majority of people living with HIV were concentrated in three countries, where prevalence among the key risk groups could be as high as 32 per cent.

Expressing support for the global and regional leadership of UNAIDS, he noted that the organization had demonstrated what could be achieved through coordinated policies.  As the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided new challenges and opportunities, CARICOM placed greater emphasis on capacity-building, lessons learned, universal health-care coverage and affordable medicine.  In 2002, the region had become the first to negotiate and sign an agreement with six pharmaceutical companies, reducing drug prices by about 85 to 90 per cent.  Turning to the Political Declaration, he recognized that it provided useful guidelines, but stressed the need to take into consideration cultural, political, social and economic circumstances.  On the financing required to end AIDS, he decried the calculations of contributions based on gross domestic product (GDP) alone because it had failed to include other factors that were impeding small economies.

BARNABAS SIBUSISO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Swaziland, expressed his country’s hope to end AIDS by 2022.  That meant accelerating efforts in reducing new infections and eliminating all forms of stigma and discrimination.  It would require greater involvement of people living with HIV and of men as strategic partners, he said, underscoring the need to address the vulnerabilities of young women and girls.  He then went on to stress that HIV treatment must be extended beyond the health-care system by strengthening the role of communities.  That would improve adherence to life-long treatment, create efficiencies in service delivery and reduce new infections, he pointed out.

While his country remained committed to financing the HIV/AIDS response, he said it was crucial that global development fora prioritized discussions about sustainable financing.  The agenda for ending the epidemic by 2030 would be accomplished through the improved collaboration within regional blocs, he said, noting that it would create efficiencies in areas including HIV research.

RUHAKANA RUGUNDA, Prime Minister of Uganda, said national strategies had attached great importance to fast-tracking the fight against HIV and ending the AIDS epidemic.  In partnership with development partners, the private sector, civil society, religious and cultural leaders and local communities, Uganda had made significant strides in combating that epidemic since 2011.  The focus of national efforts had been to implement high-impact structural, behavioural and biomedical interventions on a sufficient scale and intensity.

Sharing the outcomes of some of those initiatives, he noted that the number of new HIV infections had declined to 83,265 from 162,000, and prevalence among HIV-exposed infants had fallen to 3 per cent from 19 per cent in 2007.  Furthermore, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy had increased to 834,931 in 2015 from 588,039 in 2013.  Regarding efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 targets, he noted that 65 per cent of the HIV-infected population had been diagnosed and given access to care.  In that regard, Uganda’s population HIV impact assessment survey, which would begin in July, would provide the Government with better and current estimates.  Despite those achievements, challenges remained in order to fast track the response, he said, expressing concern that only 55 per cent of Ugandans had ever been tested for HIV and 43 per cent of those eligible for antiretroviral therapy were not receiving treatment.

MOTHETJOA METSING, Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho, said his country had one of the highest adult HIV prevalence as there were an estimated 52 new infections and 26 deaths each day.  Although the epidemic had been stable over the years, the level was too high to realize the target of 90-90-90.  Lesotho had adopted the WHO 2015 HIV testing services and prevention, care and treatment guidelines and the Prime Minister had launched a “test and treat” strategy in April.  “We are focusing on innovative targeted community-based HIV testing services,” he said, emphasizing that the aim was to reach key populations, such as sex workers, people with disabilities and tuberculosis patients.  To ensure that no one was left behind, the international community must do more to reach the most affected populations.  While Lesotho was on the right path, existing testing and treatment were not enough and the global community must provide support through increased and innovative funding, he concluded.

PAUL BIYOGHE MBA, Deputy Prime Minister of Gabon, said that HIV in Africa remained a major public health threat, like malaria and non-transmittable diseases.  Gabon had not escaped its multiple devastating effects and despite enormous efforts, the struggle against HIV/AIDS was far from being won.  More needed to be done, he said, emphasizing the impact of the economic and financial crisis on developing countries.  Progress that had been made so far on HIV/AIDS would be in vain if some countries, including middle-income countries like Gabon, were excluded from international aid.  Only greater solidarity and the intensive mobilization of meaningful financing would enable a fast-tracked response to HIV/AIDS, he said.

...

Read More

Economic and Social Council Adopts 3 Draft Decisions, Approves List of NGOs Requesting Hearings during High-Level Segment

The Economic and Social Council adopted three draft decisions and approved a list of non-governmental organizations requesting hearings at its 2016 high-level segment, as its June coordination and management session opened today.

By the terms of one of the decisions, the Council would hold an informal panel discussion on 27 June, titled “Understanding the humanitarian-development nexus”, to discuss transition from relief to development.

The Council also adopted a draft decision relating to the report on the Statistical Commission’s forty-seventh session, as well as the report of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management.

Participating in today’s meeting were the Chair of the forty-seventh session of the Statistical Commission; Co-Chair of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management; the Vice-Chair of the Committee for Development Policy; the Director of the New York Office of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); and an official of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Taking the floor during general discussions were representatives of Cuba, Mexico, China, Chile and the United States.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 2 June, to continue its coordination and management session.

Statistics

WASMÁLIA BARATA BIVAR, Chair of the forty-seventh session of the Statistical Commission, said that about 800 delegates had attended the Commission’s most recent session, including representatives of more than 135 countries and over 50 international and regional agencies.  The key subject addressed had undoubtedly been data and indicators in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Commission had considered the proposed framework of global indicators provided by the inter-institutional Group of Experts on Indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals, a panel established by the Commission and tasked with developing that framework.  It had examined the initial series of indicators in an inclusive and transparent fashion, she said, noting that many consultations had been held with interested parties.

She said the Commission had agreed on a proposed framework of 230 indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals and related targets.  It had acknowledged that working out a framework of indicators would involve a technical process that must continue over time.  The Commission had indicated that the 230 indicators had been created with the need to perform global monitoring and examination in mind.  Furthermore, it had recognized that the indicators were not necessarily applicable in all national contexts, although national involvement would be vital for sustainable development.  Going forward, national surveys, although voluntary, would take the realities and levels of development in various countries into the account, she said.

The Commission had agreed that improving data disaggregation was fundamental to the full implementation of the framework of indicators and to ensuring that no one was left behind, she continued.  In the future, countries would bear the principal responsibility for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, which would require accessible and timely high-quality data, she said, noting, however, that that would present a major challenge for most countries, particularly those in special situations.  Geospatial information would be important for the 2030 Agenda, an area in which the United Nations had made significant contributions, and the statistics community was already working “very hard” to compile data so as to ensure that there could be proper analysis of all goals and targets, which would be necessary for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The floor was then opened for a general discussion.

BIANA LEYNA REGUEIRO (Cuba) said the 2030 global indicator framework required technical refinement, with attention given to the policies, degree of development and priorities of different countries.  Reasonable space must be provided for the development of regional and national monitoring indicators, she added.

JUDITH MARCIA ARRIETA MUNGUIA (Mexico) supported adoption of the report and the decisions contained therein.  Paying tribute to the work of her country’s statistical commission, she said Mexico would continue to share its experiences and lessons learned.

Acting without a vote, the Council then adopted the draft decision contained in the report on the Statistical Commission’s forty-seventh session (document E/2016/24).

Cartography

ROLANDO OCAMPO, Vice-President, Governing Board of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico and Co-Chair of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, then introduced that body’s report on its fifth session (document E/2015/46-E/C.20/2015/17) as well as a note by the Secretariat on the programme review of the work of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (document E/2016/47).

He described the Committee’s report as an opportunity to have the Economic and Social Council strengthen its mandate in order to place it on the same level as other Council subsidiary bodies, such as the Statistical Commission.  A resolution would be needed to address the Committee’s request in that regard, he said, adding that Programme Budget Implications would be likely.

HUA YE (China) said the Committee on Global Geospatial Management had provided a useful platform for cooperation among Member States on geospatial issues and had helped to build the capacities of developing countries.  China had actively participated in and financially supported its work.

PATRICIO AGUIRRE VACCHIERI (Chile) said his country wished to continue playing an active role in the Committee’s work and was eager to review the proposal addressing the vital, fundamental relationship between geospatial information and the 2030 Agenda.

JUDITH MARCIA ARRIETA MUNGUIA (Mexico), noting that her country played a central role in the management of geospatial information in developing countries, emphasized that efforts must be made to identify funding that would allow the Committee to continue its work.  The United Nations must regulate the geospatial information obtained by various agencies across the Organization, she added.

Acting again without a vote, the Council adopted the report of the Committee of Experts.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the agenda item on Cartography would remain open for the remainder of 2016 should the Council wish to revert to it during its coordination and management meeting in July.

YAMINA DJACTA, Director of the New York Office of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda (document E/2016/54).  Noting that more than half of the world’s population now lived in urban areas, she said that by 2050, that figure was expected to increase to 6.5 billion people, representing two thirds of humanity.  She said one of the report’s four main recommendations called upon Member States to adapt the City Prosperity Initiative as a national monitoring framework for Sustainable Development Goal 11 and targets relating to other goals relevant to cities and human settlements as well as the New Urban Agenda.  The report also called upon countries to promote the role of local and other subnational governments in sustainable development, as reflected in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and in implementing and monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 11 and the New Urban Agenda.  Further, the report called on Member States to support UN-Habitat’s contribution to implementation of the Sendai Framework for Action.  Finally, it called on States to consider using the “Guiding Principles for City Climate Action Planning”, launched during the twenty-first Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The floor then opened for a general discussion.

JILL DERDERIAN (United States), while expressing overall support for UN-Habitat’s work, said it would be more effective for the agency to partner with local governments and organizations than to take on more projects of greater scope.  It should also encourage implementation of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction in urban planning, without necessarily owning that task, she said, adding that the City Prosperity Initiative and UN-Habitat’s capacity-building work should take the efforts of the private sector and non-governmental organizations into account.

JUDITH MARCIA ARRIETA MUNGUIA (Mexico), endorsing the report’s adoption, emphasized the importance of ensuring that UN-Habitat established cohesion and synergies with other entities.  The upcoming United Nations Human Settlements Programme Habitat III conference would be an opportunity to revisit the issue of cities.

Mr. SHAVA (Zimbabwe), Council Vice-President, said the agenda item on human settlements would remain open for the remainder of the 2016 session should the Council wish to revisit it during its July coordination and management meeting.

The Council then took up requests from non-governmental organizations to be heard by the Economic and Social Council (document E/2016/73) upon the recommendation of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), adopting the draft decision contained therein without a vote.

It then took up a draft decision titled “Economic and Social Council event to discuss the transition from relief to development” (document E/2016/L.15/Rev.1).  Informed that it contained no programme budget implications, the Council adopted the draft decision without a vote.

Implementation of and Follow-Up to Major United Nations Conferences and Summits

IRENA ZUBCEVIC of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs then presented the Secretary-General’s report “Mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system” (document A/71/76–E/2016/55), saying it provided an update on milestones reached and preparatory steps taken in adjusting the Organization’s work to the 2030 Agenda.

The Council then took up the agenda item “assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions”.

Mr. SHAVA (Zimbabwe) Council Vice-President, recalled that the Economic and Social Council reaffirmed, in resolution 2000/32, its own important role as well as those of the General Assembly and the Committee for Programme and Coordination in mobilizing and monitoring, as appropriate, the efforts of the international community and the United Nations system to provide economic assistance to States confronted with special economic problems arising from the imposition of preventive or enforcement measures imposed by the Security Council, and in identifying, as appropriate, solutions to those problems.

Council members concluded their consideration of the item after the Vice-President indicated that there was no draft proposal before them.

Sustainable Development

SAKIKO FUKUDA-PARR, Vice-Chair, Committee for Development Policy, presented the report on that body’s eighteenth session, discussing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) initiative to review definitions of official development finance.  She said new reporting criteria would become standard beginning in 2018.  A separate new measure of development financing, provisionally named “Total Official Support for Sustainable Development”, would reflect the broadening global development agenda beyond the historical official development financing concept, but the Committee was concerned that it would dilute existing development commitments.  She questioned why existing metrics could not be improved instead, and how the perspectives of both providers and recipients would be included in the definition.  The Committee recommended that the Council reiterate its call for donors to meet financing commitments and for all States to be involved in deliberations on a new framework.

She went on to emphasize the importance of providing vulnerable countries with concessional financing for adapting to climate change, expressing particular concern that climate-vulnerable countries graduating from the least-developed category may lose their priority access to climate financing.  The economic vulnerability index should be used for allocating climate financing, regardless of least-developed status, she said.  As more States graduated, their understanding of support and related policy implications specific to least developed countries would be critical, and the Secretariat’s proposed toolkit for facilitating understanding of the possible reduction of international support that might accompany graduation should be further developed.

MAYRA BRAVO (Mexico), expressing support for the report’s adoption, said a number of countries had begun making estimates of the challenges involved in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  The European Commission, for instance, saw difficulties resulting from such conditions as lack of investment, unemployment and migration flows, making it difficult to define a strategy.  She emphasized the indivisibility of goals and objectives, saying none was more important than another.

Read More

An Impending Disaster in Fallujah

The ISIS controlled city is being attacked by government and allied fighters, with civilians caught in the middle. About 50,000 civilians are believed to remain in the city, which has been under Islamic State control since January 2014, living under the militants’ harsh and capricious rule. Conditions for residents have grown dire in recent months as a siege by government-aligned forces has aggravated shortages of food and medicine. Now, officials from Fallujah fear that the ongoing operation designed to break the militants’ grip on the city will further endanger its civilians. In recent days, a combined force of Iraqi army troops, police, Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribal fighters has made progress in clearing militants from areas around Fallujah, in preparation for a push into the city in western Anbar province.” (WaPo http://wapo.st/1NQw3yH)

Prison Reform, Mugabe Style…”Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has granted amnesty to all female prisoners except those on death row or serving life sentences, as prisons struggle to feed inmates due to lack of funding from the government…Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services spokeswoman Priscilla Mthembo said on Thursday there were 580 female inmates across the country’s 46 prisons, and those eligible would be set free. At the country’s top security jail in Harare, two female prisoners serving life sentences remained after the amnesty, while vetting was ongoing at other prisons.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Rtx0Yz)

The most dangerous places to be a health worker…Syria was the most dangerous place for health care workers to operate last year, ahead of other conflict zones like the Palestinian territories, and Yemen, the World Health Organization said Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1TGBXS5)

Stat of the Day...144%, which is the amount that Britain’s foreign aid has increased in 10 years. (Sky News http://bit.ly/1NQxyNp )

A police officer was killed by stone-throwing protesters and a protester was shot dead in the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday at anti-government demonstrations, a United Nations human rights official said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/25nSlQi)

The head of the UN mission in Central African Republic has vowed to do everything possible to wipe out sexual exploitation and abuse by his troops, pledging to bring about a rebirth of peacekeeping. (Guardian http://bit.ly/25nR2ka)

The party of Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has won municipal elections seen as a key step in the country’s transition to democracy from the authoritarian rule of ousted strongman Blaise Compaore. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Rtv0zk)

The United Nations Security Council voted to end sanctions and an arms embargo on Liberia, citing the West African country’s successful stabilization more than a decade after a 14-year civil war that killed nearly 250,000 people. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1RtuFwv)

The African Union’s insurance arm will increase its disaster cover to $1.5 billion by 2020 from $179 million currently following one of the continent’s worst droughts in decades, a senior executive said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/25nR1gf)

A Nigerian youth group leader confirmed on Thursday that militants had attacked a Chevron oil facility in the Niger Delta. (Reuters http://bit.ly/25nQHOG)

The Africa Development Bank has announced a $549 million plan to support countries deal with drought and other effects of climate change on the continent. (The Monitor http://bit.ly/1Ufz2jl)

The Ugandan ringleader of a 2010 bombing by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab that killed 76 people in Kampala was found guilty on Thursday of masterminding one of the region’s worst attacks in decades. (AFP http://yhoo.it/25nRDT1)

Uber is expanding in Africa. The ride-hailing company said Thursday that it plans to start operating in the capitals of Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania within a month. (AP http://yhoo.it/25nS3sw)

Many Syrian civilians will face starvation if Damascus and armed rebel groups do not allow greater access to humanitarian convoys carrying life-saving supplies, the UN envoy to the war-ravaged country said Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1RtwqKd)

The U.N. special envoy for Syria says he will speak to the U.N. Security Council and announce afterward plans for the resumption of stalled peace talks between the government and the opposition. (AP http://yhoo.it/25nS281)

Only 800 people have been able to flee Fallujah since Iraqi forces launched a major offensive to retake the city, the United Nations said in a statement released Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1TGBwr3)

A bitter divide over the Middle East could threaten Democratic Party unity as representatives of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont vowed to upend what they see as the party’s lopsided support of Israel. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1NQvRPX)

A boost for maternal health in India? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on doctors Thursday to give up 12 days a year to treating poor, pregnant women free of charge, in a speech to mark the anniversary of his government’s second year in power.  (PRI http://bit.ly/1NQwOba)

While Philippine elections this month were dominated by talk about crushing crime, the next president faces another critical early test: ensuring there is enough rice for the country’s more than 100 million people. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ufz3Uu)

Travel to Guyana from Brazil for abortions is hardly unique in the Caribbean, home to a patchwork of regulatory jurisdictions. While abortion is legal in some countries such as Guyana, Cuba, Barbados and the Caribbean Netherlands, it is illegal or highly restricted in other areas. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1RtwWYE)

Scientists studying the Zika outbreak in Brazil are becoming increasingly concerned the virus may cause eye damage in babies. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Xzwr6t)

Doctors Without Borders called on the Greek authorities to ensure that adequate and continuous assistance is guaranteed during the movement of people from the informal camps and in the new locations. (MSF http://bit.ly/1sRz0G5)

Five migrants – four women and one child – drowned when their boat capsized off the Greek island of Samos close to Turkey’s coast, Greek coast guard officials said on Saturday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/25nQLxF)

Diplomats are gradually crowding out environment experts in global efforts to tackle climate change, a shift signaling a higher profile for the issue and improved chances for more coordination to fight it. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TGBXl5)

Hundreds more migrants have made their way to Calais on France’s north coast in recent months despite the bulldozing of part of their “jungle” camp in March, and despite extra port security aimed at stopping them from reaching Britain. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TGBy2g)

Group of Seven leaders voiced concern on Thursday about emerging economies, a senior Japanese official said, as their host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pointed comparison to the global financial crisis. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Rtuwt1)

Opinion/Blogs

Venezuela is Collapsing. Here’s Why (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1WWjTaS)

The Humanitarian Clock Is Ticking, The Powerful Feign Deafness (IPS http://bit.ly/25nPOW5)

Why you should be critical of Professor Angelina Jolie Pitt’s LSE gig (Aidnography http://bit.ly/1TGEsnJ)

After the Media Circus, What (If Anything) Have We Learned from the Panama Papers? (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1TGDSpY)

The Last Face isn’t the first aid drama to leave us needing emergency assistance (Guardian http://bit.ly/1scHIy3)

Not what it used to be – Labor’s commitment to Australian aid (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1TGEYlB)

Menstrual hygiene is a universal – but complex – human right (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1TGEGeq)

New and Old Vaccines Still Out of Reach for Many (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/25nQJG1)

Discussion

comments...

Read More

Power of the pulse: Top chefs share secrets of bean cuisine in colorful new book

Photo: ©FAO/Samuel Alanda

In addition to giving an overview of the health and environmental benefits of pulses, the new book explains step-by-step what to look for when buying them, how to grow them at home, and how to cook them.

26 May 2016, Rome -- Lovers of peas, pinto beans, lentils and their leguminous cousins can now boost their appetites and cooking skills thanks to a colorful new book featuring recipes from international top chefs passionate about one of the world’s most versatile super foods: pulses.

Launched today by FAO, “Pulses, nutritious seeds for a sustainable future” takes readers on a 190-page journey through kitchens and cultures across the world, delving into cooking pots and local histories to explore the indigenous roots, contemporary benefits and timeless flavors of dried bean cuisine.

In addition to providing an overview of pulses and the ways they benefit nutrition, health, biodiversity and food security, the book explains step-by-step what to look for when buying them, how to grow them at home, and how to cook them. It follows ten internationally acclaimed chefs on their daily trip to the market and joins them back to their kitchens as they prepare three easy, pulse-based dishes and share their best kept cooking secrets.

And the book doesn’t just cater to readers’ taste buds – it’s also packed with information, graphics and factoids on pulses: their diversity, where they’re grown and which countries grow and trade them, and their nutritional characteristics.

“It is a book filled with illustrations and beautiful photographs and shows the many ways in which pulses contribute to food security, sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation and overall health,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said at the launch event taking place in Rome today. “Pulses provide an affordable alternative to animal protein  and are increasingly becoming an important crop  for small family farmers,” he added.

Special ambassadors to act as advocates

At today’s ceremony, Graziano de Silva named UK food writer and blogger Jenny Chandler Special Ambassador for the International Year of Pulses 2016 for the Europe region. In addition to writing on her food blog, she’s the author of four cooking books, including one exclusively dedicated to pulse recipes.

She joins a group of regional ambassadors for the International Year who will support FAO in promoting the health and environmental benefit of pulses through international events and outreach to media.

In addition to Chandler, they are Joyce Boye from Canada (North America), Kadambot Siddique from India (Asia), Elizabeth Mpofu from Zimbabwe (Africa), and Magy Habib from Egypt (Near East). The nomination for Latin America and the Caribbean is being finalized.

Why pulses?

From falafel to dahl to chilli, the book shows how pulses are part of food culture and standard diet across the planet and a key ingredient in many signature national and regional dishes (learn more: What are pulses).

While small, pulses are packed with proteins – double that found in wheat and three times that in rice. Particularly when they’re consumed with cereals, pulses increase the protein quality of meals. They are also rich in micronutrients and b-vitamins, and the fact that they’re cheap makes them ideal for improving diets in poorer parts of the world.

But their health benefits don’t stop there. Pulses are also excellent for managing weight, cholesterol and digestive health and for combating anemia in women and children. And because they do not contain gluten, they are ideal for celiac patients.

Benefits for biodiversity, climate adaptation

Because pulses help fix nitrogen in our soils, they makes for healthier, more productive farmland, which leaves farmers less dependent on synthetic fertilizers and leads to a smaller carbon footprint.

Plus, by improving soil health overall, they create a rich home for germs, bugs and bacteria of various kinds, which boost below-the-surface biodiversity, too.

In the age of climate change, pulses have much to offer to farmers looking to adapt their production to changing climate conditions: with hundreds of varieties to choose from, there’s a pulse for nearly every environment

“Pulses, nutritious seeds for a sustainable future,” digs deeper into these and many other facts about the power of pulses. The hardcover book is currently available in English, French, Spanish, and versions in Arabic, Chinese and Russian are in production. It retails at $29.95 through FAO and select distributors (email publications-sales@fao.org for direct orders and local retail information or find it on Amazon in hard copy and kindle format).

Read More

Motion for a resolution on the EU’s priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions of 2016 – B8-2016-0063

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the UN human rights conventions and optional protocols thereto,

–  having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council (UNHRC),

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the United Nations Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the violation of human rights, including its urgency resolutions,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(1),

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3(5), 18, 21, 27 and 47 of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to the 2015 annual report of the UNHRC to the UN General Assembly,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas 2015 and 2016 are years of major anniversaries as regards the enjoyment of human rights, peace and security: the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the 50th anniversary of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the 40th and 20th anniversaries of the Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) respectively; and the 15th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security (2000) and of the Millennium Development Goals (2000); whereas these anniversaries coincide with the most serious humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, created by an ever-increasing number of individuals forced to leave their homes as a result of climate change, persecution, armed conflict and generalised violence;

B.  whereas upholding respect for human rights irrespective of race, origin, class, caste, sex, sexual orientation or colour is an obligation on all states, and reiterating its attachment to the indivisibility of human rights – whether they are political, civil, economic, social or cultural – which are interrelated and interdependent, and considering that the deprivation of any one of these rights has a direct and adverse impact on the others;

C.  whereas all states have an obligation to respect the basic rights of their respective populations and a duty to take concrete action to facilitate respect for those rights at national level, and to cooperate at international level with a view to eliminating obstacles to the realisation of human rights in all areas;

D.  whereas respect for, and the promotion and safeguarding of, the universality of human rights is part of the European Union’s ethical and legal acquis and one of the cornerstones of European unity and integrity; whereas the human rights situation in its Member States directly impacts on the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy abroad;

E.  whereas the Union’s action in its relations with third countries is guided by Article 21 of the Lisbon Treaty, which reaffirms the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms and enshrines the obligation for the EU to respect human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and those of the United Nations Charter and international law in its action on the international scene;

F.  whereas respect for human rights should be mainstreamed in all policy areas involving peace and security, development cooperation, migration, trade and investment, humanitarian action, climate change and the fight against terrorism, as these cannot be addressed in isolation from respect for human rights;

G.  whereas the regular sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the appointment of Special Rapporteurs, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, the Special Procedure addressing either specific country situations or thematic issues, all contribute to the international effort to promote and respect human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

H.  whereas some of the members of the Human Rights Council are acknowledged as being among the worst human rights offenders and have a poor record in terms of cooperation with the UN Special Procedures and compliance with their reporting requirements vis-à-vis the UN human rights treaty bodies;

UN Human Rights Council

1.  Reiterates its position that UNHRC members should be elected among states which uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, the rule of law and democracy, and urges EU Member States to promote human rights performance-based criteria for any state to be elected as a member of the UNHRC; expresses its concerns about widespread and systematic human rights abuses in several member states of the UNHRC, including Russia, China and Saudi Arabia; calls on the EU Member States not to vote in support of the membership of states committing such large-scale human rights violations and to publicise their votes;

2.  Expresses its full support for the independence and integrity of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (‘the Office’) and stresses that it is important to defend this independence, so as to ensure that the Office can continue to exercise its task in an effective and impartial manner; reiterates that the Office needs to be adequately funded and needs to be given full support;

3.  Reiterates its support for the Special Procedures and the independent status of the mandate holders to enable them to fulfil their function in all impartiality; deeply regrets the lack of cooperation demonstrated by some member states, such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, and observer states such as Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan, with thematic special procedures, as well as the lack of cooperation with country-specific special procedures by the countries concerned, including Israel; calls on all states to fully cooperate with these procedures;

4.  Reaffirms the importance of the universality of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), with a view to reaching a full understanding of the human rights situation in all UN member states, and reiterates its support for the second cycle of the review; calls again for the recommendations that were not accepted by states during the first cycle to be reconsidered in the continuation of the UPR process;

5.  Stresses the need to ensure that a wide range of stakeholders, notably civil society, participate fully in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, and expresses its deep concern that severe limitations and ever growing restrictions and intimidation have hampered civil society’s participation in the UPR process;

6.  Calls on the European External Action Service and the Commission to follow up on the Universal Periodic Review recommendations in all EU policy dialogues with the countries concerned in order to explore ways and means of implementing the recommendations through country and regional strategies;

7.  Calls, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the HRC, for an assessment of the Council’s impact, and the extent to which it is fulfilling its mandate and the need for greater attention to be paid to the implementation of its resolutions and other decisions; expresses concern at the practice of states responsible for human rights violations drafting their own resolutions, noting that they often do so not with the intention of actually addressing the situation, but with the aim of shielding their own acts and omissions from international scrutiny; highlights the need to address all country situations on their merits without selectivity; emphasises the importance of integrating civil society participation in all aspects of the Council’s work, and fostering concerted action to prevent and address reprisals;

8.  Welcomes the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Initiative for Change, intended to improve and reinforce the global presence of UN human rights offices with the creation of eight regional hubs to protect and promote respect for human rights by working directly with partners in order to transform the recommendations of the human rights mechanisms into real changes on the ground;

EU Member States at the Human Rights Council

9.  Deplores the division and lack of unity among the EU Member States in relation to a number of country situations over the past year, including on Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen where several EU Member States refused to co-sign the EU joint statement or even actively undermined initiatives by other EU Member States;

10.  Regrets the passivity of some EU Member States at the HRC; regrets that Belarus is the only new country resolution that the EU has decided to lead as a group since the creation of the HRC; calls on all EU Member States at the HRC to show stronger leadership on country situations and to mobilise action on situations that have not yet been addressed by the Council;

11.  Deplores the voting behaviour of EU Member States on a number of issues of critical importance for the Global South and where EU Member States abstained or for the most part voted down resolutions, which were ultimately adopted, such as on the repatriation of funds of illicit origin, private military and security companies, armed drones, foreign debt, the right to education, human rights and international solidarity, unilateral coercive measures, mercenaries, the right to peace, human rights of peasants, racism, people of African descent, the right to development and the promotion of a democratic and equitable world order; regrets also the continued division of the EU Member States at the UN HRC on a number of landmark thematic resolutions including on armed drones, on the right to peace, on the fight against racism and on the right to development;

12.  Considers that the voting record of EU Member States in the HRC sharply contrasts with the EU’s stated commitment to the indivisibility of rights and notably, to economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights, and reflects the EU’s collective failure in successfully contributing to the development of global standards in these areas; calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to report back to Parliament on this situation and to encourage an in-depth review of the EU and Member State approach to ESC rights and so-called ‘new generation rights’ at the HRC; calls for a more principled and non-selective engagement of the EU Member States at the HRC; calls on the EU and its Member States to mainstream human rights in all their activities and positions within the broader UN system;

Civil and political rights

13.  Reiterates that freely electing political leaders, in periodically held genuine elections on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, is a fundamental right that all citizens should enjoy in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

14.  Reaffirms that the existence of freedom of expression and a vibrant and conducive environment for independent and pluralistic civil society are prerequisites to promote respect for human rights;

15.  Is of the view that contemporary digital technologies offer advantages and challenges for the protection of the right to privacy and for the exercise of freedom of expression online throughout the world; welcomes, in this context, the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age, whose mandate includes surveillance and privacy issues that affect people online or offline;

16.  Reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment in all cases and under all circumstances; emphasises once again that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity;

17.  Commends the substantial progress made so far, whereby many countries have suspended capital punishment while others have taken legislative measures towards abolishing the death penalty; expresses, nevertheless, its regret concerning the reinstatement of executions in some countries over the past few years; calls upon those states which have abolished the death penalty or have a long-standing death penalty moratorium not to reintroduce it and for those still retaining the death penalty, to adopt a moratorium as a first step towards abolition;

18.  Calls on all Member States to implement all necessary measures to ensure that they do not directly or indirectly contribute to the imposition or execution of the death sentence in retentionist states through any means, including the provision of law enforcement support or assistance to the prosecuting authorities that could contribute to a death sentence;

Social and Economic Rights

19.  Regrets that more than 20 years after the adoption of the Vienna Declaration on the universality and indivisibility as well as the interdependence and interrelated nature of all human rights, that the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is not treated by the EU and its Member States on the same footing and with the same emphasis as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as demonstrated by EU voting behaviour in the UNHRC; recognises the UNHRC’s efforts to put all human rights on an equal footing and with the same emphasis, through the establishment of Special Procedure mandate holders related to economic, social and cultural rights; insists that particular efforts should be made, including by the EU Member States, to secure wide ratification of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR establishing complaint and inquiry mechanisms;

20.  Expresses its profound concern about the rise of extreme poverty, which jeopardises the full enjoyment of all human rights; welcomes in this regard the UNHRC Special Rapporteur’s report on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/29/31) and supports his proposals for the elimination of extreme poverty, which include: giving economic, social and cultural rights the same prominence and priority as are given to civil and political rights; recognising the right to social protection; implementing fiscal policies specifically aimed at reducing inequality; revitalising and giving substance to the right to equality; and putting questions of resource redistribution at the centre of debates on human rights;

21.  Is of the opinion that corruption, tax evasion, mismanagement of public goods and a lack of accountability contribute to the violation of citizens’ human rights as they divert funds from state budgets that should be dedicated to the advancement of human rights in much needed public services such as education, basic health services and other social infrastructure; considers that action to ensure respect for human rights, in particular the rights to information, to freedom of expression and assembly, to an independent judiciary and to democratic participation in public affairs, is instrumental in fighting corruption;

22.  Emphasises that minority communities in third countries have specific needs and that their full equality should be promoted in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life;

Indigenous Peoples

23.  Calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to actively support the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in all HRC sessions; calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to take into consideration that indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and to actively support their participation in the application of the Paris Agreement; urges the EU Member States to request that all Special Procedure mandate holders give special attention to issues affecting indigenous women, youth and persons with disabilities, and systematically report such issues to the UNHRC; urges the EEAS and the Member States to actively support the development of the system-wide action plan on indigenous peoples, as requested by the UN General Assembly in its September 2014 resolution, especially as regards the organisation of regular consultation of indigenous peoples as part of that process;

Human rights defenders

24.  Condemns the continued harassment and detention of human rights defenders and opposition figures by government forces in a number of third countries; expresses its concern about unfair and restrictive legislation, including restrictions on foreign funding, which is resulting in a shrinking space for civil society activities; calls on all governments to promote and support freedom of the media, civil society organisations and the activities of human rights defenders and to allow them to operate without fear, repression or intimidation;

25.  Calls on all governments to allow civil society organisations and human rights defenders, to cooperate with the UNHRC in the UPR mechanism and to ensure that countries responsible for reprisals against human rights activists are held accountable;

26.  Considers that the continued harassment and detention of human rights defenders and opposition figures by a number of UNHRC members undermines the credibility of the UNHRC; urges the EU and its Member States to promote an initiative at UN level to outline a coherent and comprehensive response to the major challenges that human rights defenders working on women’s rights, the defence of environmental, land and indigenous peoples’ rights, on corruption and impunity, journalists and other human rights defenders using media, including online and social media, face worldwide and to systematically denounce their assassination;

Business and human rights

27.  Strongly supports the effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights within and outside the EU and urges EU Member States to adopt and implement national action plans; emphasises the need to take all the necessary measures to address gaps in the effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, including access to justice and remedies;

28.  Calls on the UN and the EU to address the question of land rights defenders, who are victims of reprisals including threats, harassment, arbitrary arrest, assault and murder, for criticising large-scale land acquisition at the expense of the land and food rights of rural populations in third countries, notably in relation to investments or activities of multinational and European companies; calls for the UN mechanisms and the EU to consistently address the issue of land grabbing as well as land rights defenders as a matter of priority;

29.  Welcomes the initiative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to enhance the Accountability and Remedy Project in order to contribute to a fair and more effective system of domestic law remedies, in particular in cases of gross human rights abuses in the business sector; calls on all governments to fulfil their duties in securing respect for human rights, access to justice for victims who face both practical and legal challenges to access remedies at national and international levels, with regard to human rights violations linked to business;

30.  Deplores the negative vote and obstructive behaviour by EU Member States in relation to the establishment of the Open-ended Inter-Governmental Working Group (IGWG) on the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights; welcomes the work so far of the IGWG and calls on the EU and its Member States to constructively engage in the negotiations;

Migration and Refugees

31.  Calls on the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms to pay utmost attention to the human rights implications of the high numbers of refugees and migrants around the world and to make recommendations in this regard; underscores with dismay that the European external border has become the deadliest border in the world; calls on human rights to be mainstreamed into all border management policies and activities carried out by FRONTEX including the establishment of a complaint mechanism;

32.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to support the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, together with the implementation of his recommendations, including the demand to step up work on new ways to provide legal avenues of migration for those in humanitarian situations and to quickly implement reform and to provide and follow up on more resettlement opportunities;

33.  Expresses concern about continued and widespread discrimination against, and violations of the rights of, migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees; calls on all countries to adopt a human rights-based approach to migration, which places the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees at the centre of migration policies and management, paying particular attention to the situation of marginalised and disadvantaged groups of migrants, such as women and children; calls on all states to address gender-related violence against women and girls, and stresses the importance of designing migration policy from a gender perspective in order to respond to their particular needs;

34.  Recalls that all states have an obligation to respect and protect the human rights of all individuals under their jurisdiction, regardless of their nationality or origin and regardless of their immigration status; recalls that the return of migrants should only be carried out in full respect of the migrants’ rights, based upon free and informed decisions and only when the protection of their rights is guaranteed in their country; calls on governments to put an end to the arbitrary arrest and detention of migrants, and to strictly uphold the prohibition of refoulement; reiterates its call on the EU to ensure that all migration cooperation and readmission agreements with non-EU states comply with international law;

Climate change and human rights

35.  Welcomes the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which covers adaptation, mitigation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building; insists that the issue of climate change should be mainstreamed in all economic policy areas; urges all states parties which are signatories to the Agreement to adopt urgent and ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures by mainstreaming climate change in all policy areas; insists that all policies and actions on UNFCCC should be human rights based;

36.  Recalls that the adverse impact of climate change represents an immediate and potentially irreversible global threat to the full enjoyment of human rights, and that its impact on vulnerable groups whose rights situation is already precarious is considerable; notes with concern that climate-related incidents such as the rise of sea levels, and extreme weather changes provoking droughts and floods are expected to lead to even more loss of life, displacement of populations, and food and water shortages;

37.  Calls on the international community to address the legal shortfalls in the term ‘climate refugee’, including its definition in international law or in any legally binding international agreement;

Women’s rights

38.  Stresses the importance of not undermining the ‘acquis’ of the Beijing Platform for Action regarding access to education and health as a basic human right, and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights; emphasises the fact that universal respect for sexual and reproductive health and rights and access to the relevant services contribute to reducing infant and maternal mortality; points out that family planning, maternal health, easy access to contraception and safe abortion are important elements in saving women’s lives and helping them rebuild their lives if they have been victims of rape; highlights the need to place these policies at the core of development cooperation and humanitarian action with third countries;

39.  Welcomes the UN Security Council’s recent resolution 2242 on women, peace and security, which makes women the central component in all efforts to address global challenges, including rising violent extremism, climate change, migration, sustainable development, peace and security; commends the UN Global Study findings on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which stressed the importance of women’s leadership and participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding and that their involvement has improved humanitarian assistance, strengthened peacekeepers’ efforts, fostered the conclusion of peace talks and helped to counter violent extremism;

40.  Expresses its dismay at the fact that since the emergence of violent extremist groups such as Daesh in Syria and Iraq or Boko Haram in West Africa, violence against women and notably sexual violence has become an integral part of the objectives, ideology and source of revenue of these extremist groups, and has placed a critical new challenge before the international community; calls on all governments and the UN institutions to step up their commitment in combating these abominable crimes and to restore women’s dignity so that they receive justice, reparation and adequate support measures;

41.  Considers that guaranteeing women’s autonomy, by addressing the underlying inequalities between women and men which render women and girls vulnerable during times of conflict, is one way of countering extremism; calls on the UN and all its member states to take concrete steps to ensure women’s autonomy, their meaningful inclusion in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in the peace negotiation and peacebuilding process by increasing their representation at all decision-making levels, including in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms;

Children’s rights

42.  Recalls that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in 1989 and is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, sets out a number of children’s rights, including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence and discrimination and to have their views heard; calls on all signatories to this treaty to honour their obligation; calls on the USA, as the only remaining country in the world not to have ratified this Convention, to accede to the latter as a matter of priority;

43.  Welcomes the planned global study to be launched by the UN to map out, through monitoring and evaluation analysis, how existing international laws and standards are being implemented on the ground and to assess the concrete possibilities for states to improve their policies and responses; urges all states to support and participate actively in the study;

44.  Notes with concern that a number of persons have been sentenced to death for crimes committed while under the age of 18 and have been put to death in countries around the world in 2015 despite the prohibition on the use of the death penalty for juveniles in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

Rights of LGBTI persons

45.  Expresses its concern regarding the persistence of discriminatory laws and practices and of acts of violence against individuals in various countries, on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, including the use of the death penalty in some countries; encourages close monitoring of the situation of LGBTI people in countries where recently introduced anti-LGBTI laws threaten the lives of sexual minorities; expresses its strong concern regarding the so-called ‘anti-propaganda’ laws limiting freedom of expression and assembly, including in countries on the European continent;

46.  Supports the continuing work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to combat these discriminatory laws, in particular through statements, reports and the Free & Equal campaign, as well as the work of other UN bodies; is concerned at restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI human rights defenders, and calls for the EU to step up its support for them; notes that the fundamental rights of LGBTI people are more likely to be respected if they have access to legal institutions, possibly through registered partnerships or marriage; calls for the HRC to create a Special Procedure or another mechanism to ensure systematic attention to these issues;

Counter-terrorism and human rights

47.  Recalls that the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms is the foundation of successful counter-terrorism policies, including the use of digital surveillance technologies and urges that human rights and the rule of law be upheld in all counter-terrorism activities, which is also at the heart of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy;

Sports and human rights

48.  Denounces the increasing practice by authoritarian states of hosting mega sports or cultural events in order to boost their international legitimacy whilst further restricting domestic dissent; calls on the EU and its Member States to actively raise this issue, including at the UNHRC, and to engage with national sports federations, corporate actors and civil society organisations on the practicalities of their participation in such events, including with regard to the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022, and the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022; calls for the development of an EU and UN policy framework on sports and human rights;

Fight against impunity/ICC

49.  Reaffirms its strong commitment to ending impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community and to providing justice for the victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, including those related to sexual violence, and reiterates its strong support for the International Criminal Court (ICC); remains vigilant regarding any attempts to undermine the Court’s legitimacy or independence; expresses serious concern that several arrest warrants have still not been executed; urges the EU and its Member States to cooperate with the Court and provide it with strong diplomatic, political and financial support, including in the UN; calls for efforts to be increased in promoting the universality of the Rome Statute through its ratification, including of the Kampala amendments, and effective implementation;

Drones and autonomous weapons

50.  Reiterates its call on the EU Council to develop an EU common position on the use of armed drones, giving the utmost importance to respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and addressing issues such as the legal framework, proportionality, accountability, the protection of civilians and transparency; urges the EU once again to ban the production, development, and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention; insists that human rights should be part of all dialogues with third countries on counter-terrorism; deplores the negative vote of France and the UK on the latest HRC resolution on armed drones in counter-terrorism and military operations in accordance with international law;

Human rights and drug policy

51.  Welcomes the joint statement made on October 7 2015 by the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions that ‘Executions for drug crimes amount to a violation of international law and are unlawful killings’ and that ‘International agencies, as well as States providing bilateral technical assistance to combat drug crime, must ensure that the programmes to which they contribute do not ultimately result in violations of the right to life’;

52.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to make the abolition of the death penalty for drug offences a priority issue in UNGASS negotiations, and reiterates that the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences should be made a precondition for financial assistance, technical assistance, capacity-building and other support for drug enforcement policy;

53.  Expresses its support for the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on human rights and drug policy;

EU priorities on country-related issues

Azerbaijan

54.  Welcomes the joint statement on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan delivered during the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council, but regrets that a number of EU Member States did not support this joint statement; calls on the EU Member States and other members of the Council to follow closely the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and work towards the adoption of a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of human rights defenders, political and civil activists, journalists, and bloggers that have been arrested or imprisoned on politically motivated charges, to fully investigate allegations of torture in detention, and repeal legislations that unduly restrict freedoms of expression, assembly and association in Azerbaijan; calls on the EU Member States to seek the creation of a Special Rapporteur mandate on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan;

55.  Welcomes the provisional release on humanitarian grounds of Leyla and Arif Yunus, but calls for the immediate lifting of all charges against them; deeply regrets that none of the Azerbaijani prisoners of conscience were freed on the occasion of the latest Presidential pardon;

Belarus

56.  Notes the release of the six remaining prisoners as a welcome step; expresses its profound concern at the continued restrictions on the freedom of expression and freedoms of association and peaceful assembly; condemns the harassment of independent and opposition journalists and the harassment and detention of human rights activists and critics on spurious charges; condemns the continued use of the death penalty;

57.  Calls for the renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate on the human rights situation in Belarus at the 32nd session of the Council, and calls on the government to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and commit to engage in long overdue reforms to promote and protect human rights, including by implementing the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur and other human rights mechanisms;

Georgia

58.  Takes note of the meaningful legislative reforms that have resulted in some progress and improvements in the justice and law enforcement sector, the Prosecutor’s office, the fight against ill-treatment, children’s rights, as well as the protection of privacy and personal data and internally displaced persons (IDPs);

59.  Notes, however, that further efforts are needed with regard to ill-treatment, especially regarding pre-trial detention and rehabilitation of victims, to accountability for abuses by law enforcement, to investigations into past abuses by government officials and to minorities and women’s rights; remains concerned about freedom of expression and media and the lack of access by monitors to the occupied regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia where human rights violations remain widespread; calls on the Georgian Government to take appropriate measures with a view to ensuring a follow-up to the recommendations made in the UPR process;

Russia

60.  Strongly condemns the government’s continued crackdown on dissent by targeting independent NGOs through the so-called ‘foreign agents law’ and the law on ‘undesirable foreign organisations’ that allows authorities to bar international NGOs seen as threatening Russia’s defence capabilities or constitutional foundations and the persistent and multiform repression of activists, political opponents and critics of the regime;

Ukraine

61.  Expresses its grave concern at the continued indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, targeted attacks on schools and use of schools for military purposes by both parties; condemns continued human rights violations in the conflict and fully supports the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine; calls for the Government of Ukraine to take steps to allow delivery of certain types of medicines, including opioid substitution therapy (OST) medicines, to improve registration procedures and means of accessing employment and state benefits for those displaced by the conflict, to repeal legislations that may negatively impact on freedom of expression and association, to take concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and armed groups, from government-controlled territory to rebel-held areas, and to ratify the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court as a full member;

62.  Calls for EU Member States to support all possible efforts at UN level to fight impunity and to conduct impartial investigations into the violent events and human rights violations linked to the crackdown against the Maidan demonstrations, into the use of cluster munitions by pro-government forces and Russia-backed rebels during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and to address the human rights situation in Crimea and other violations related to the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine;

Uzbekistan

63.  Urges EU Member States to work towards a UN Human Rights Council resolution establishing a dedicated UN mechanism for Uzbekistan ensuring UN monitoring, public reporting and Human Rights Council debate about the human rights situation in Uzbekistan, to address Uzbekistan’s record of lack of cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms, the continued detention of large number of political opponents, including human rights defenders, continued restrictions on freedom of association, freedom of expression and the media, and continued use of forced and child labour;

Bahrain

64.  Regrets that no progress has been made by the Government of Bahrain in addressing concerns related to the continued detention of many, including human rights defenders, political activists and journalists, for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the lack of accountability for human rights violations including torture and the lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain;

65.  Calls on the EU Member States to address the human rights situation in Bahrain at the Human Rights Council through individual statements, a follow-up joint statement or a resolution urging Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, political activists and other individuals detained and charged with alleged violations related to the rights of expression, peaceful assembly and association and to ensure impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and to swiftly facilitate the visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other UN human rights mechanisms; reiterates its call for the EU to develop a comprehensive strategy on how the Union and its Member States can actively push for the release of the imprisoned activists and prisoners of conscience;

Israel/Palestine

66.  Calls on the EU to reiterate its position on accountability as mentioned in the July 2015 FAC conclusions, by stating that compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law by states and non-state actors, including accountability, is a cornerstone for peace and security in the region;

67.  In light of this commitment in the July 2015 FAC, and the call on third states in the EU-backed July 2015 HRC resolution to promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, urges the EU to call on all parties to conduct credible investigations into alleged violations of international law; to actively monitor and assess compliance of ongoing investigations with international standards on the duty to investigate, including by regularly seeking clarification on the closure of cases; to press for an appropriate follow-up mechanism to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the 2015 UN Commission of Inquiry report and those of previous UN reports; and to call on Israel to cooperate with the ICC’s preliminary examination including by providing access and cooperating with requests for information;

68.  Deplores the refusal of the Israeli authorities to cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur on OPT, which led to his resignation due to the failure of Israel to grant him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

Syria

69.  Expresses its deep concern at the continued deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Syria; strongly condemns the abuses, massacres, torture, killings and sexual violence being perpetrated on the Syrian population by the Assad regime, the so-called Islamic State and other extremist and terrorist groups; reiterates its call for a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led political process leading to a genuine political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future; expresses its full support to the ongoing UN-led efforts to reach a political solution to the conflict;

70.  Urges the Human Rights Council to call on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to take appropriate action in order to ensure that those responsible for human rights violations, including violations that may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, are held to account, including through referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court;

Saudi Arabia

71.  Reiterates that UNHRC members should be elected from among states which uphold human rights, the rule of law and democracy; strongly disagrees with the decision taken by the United Nations, with EU Member State support, to hand over a key human rights role to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva, who was elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council;

72.  Remains gravely concerned about the systematic and widespread human rights violations in Saudi Arabia; calls on the Saudi authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, including the 2015 Sakharov Laureate, Raif Badawi;

73.  Expresses serious concern about the mass execution of 47 prisoners in Saudi Arabia on 2 January 2016, following an alarming increase in the rate of executions in 2015;

74.  Notes with concern reports that among those executed were juveniles, mentally ill persons, and prisoners sentenced to death for non-lethal crimes particularly those relating to the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression;

75.  Calls on the Saudi authorities to co-operate fully with the UNHRC Special Procedures and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; calls on Saudi Arabia to impose a moratorium on the death penalty;

Western Sahara

76.  Calls for the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara, including freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to assembly, to be respected; demands the release of all Sahrawi political prisoners; demands access to the territories of Western Sahara for members of parliament, independent observers, NGOs and the press; urges the United Nations to provide MINURSO with a human rights mandate, in line with all other UN peacekeeping missions around the world; supports a fair and lasting settlement of the Western Sahara conflict, on the basis of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions;

Yemen

77.  Expresses grave concern about the dramatic and violet conflict and the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the country; denounces the serious violations of the laws of war and human rights abuses committed by the warring parties, notably the indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition that have killed and wounded scores of civilians and destroyed numerous civilian objects; condemns the expulsion of the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by the Yemeni authorities; calls on the EU to support the establishment of an international inquiry at the Human Rights Council to document violations by all sides since September 2014;

Burundi

78.  Expresses deep concern about the targeted attacks on human rights defenders, journalists and their family members; strongly condemns the political violence, summary executions, human rights violations and abuses and incitement to violence on political, ethnic or other grounds in Burundi, as well as the ongoing impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, including police and security forces, youth groups affiliated with political parties, and officials;

79.  Urges the Burundian authorities to end these violations and abuses as a matter of critical and urgent priority, including by immediately halting killings and attacks on human rights defenders, journalists and real or suspected opponents and critics, and by conducting thorough, impartial and independent investigations with a view to bringing those responsible to justice and providing victims with redress;

80.  Welcomes the holding of a Special Session of the Human Rights Council on preventing further deterioration of the human rights situation in Burundi on 17 December 2015 but regret the delays in holding it; calls for the expeditious deployment of the mission by independent experts, and urges the Burundian authorities to fully cooperate with the mission;

Mauritania

81.  Stresses that, while progress has been made by the Mauritanian Government in taking legislative measures aimed at fighting all forms of slavery and slavery-like practices, the lack of effective implementation is contributing to the persistence of such practices; calls on the authorities to enact an anti-slavery law, to initiate nationwide, systematic and regular collection of disaggregated data on all forms of slavery and to conduct a thorough evidence-based study on the history and nature of slavery in order to eradicate the practice;

82.  Urges the Mauritanian authorities to allow freedom of speech and assembly, in accordance with international conventions and Mauritania’s own domestic law; calls also for the release of Biram Dah Abeid, Bilal Ramdane and Djiby Sow so that they may continue their non-violent campaign against the continuation of slavery without fear of harassment or intimidation;

South Sudan

83.  Welcomes the Peace Agreement signed by the warring parties on 28 August 2015 to end the civil war, which includes transitional power-sharing, security arrangements and the establishment of a hybrid court to try all crimes committed since the conflict started; recalls that the conflict has claimed thousands of lives and caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and refugees;

84.  Calls on all parties to refrain from committing human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, including those amounting to international crimes, such as extrajudicial killings, ethnically targeted violence, conflict-related sexual violence, including rape, as well as gender-based violence, recruitment and use of children, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests and detention;   

85.  Calls on the Human Rights Council to support the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on South Sudan, with a mandate to monitor and publicly report on violations, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and on military use of schools, and make recommendations for achieving effective accountability;

Venezuela

86.  Welcomes Venezuela’s holding of free and fair elections on 6 December 2015; welcomes the acceptance of the results by the government and opposition forces alike; recalls the importance of upholding the constitution and respecting human rights, and of carrying out the will of the Venezuelan people;

87.  Recalls that the new government will have to tackle a wide range of human rights issues, ranging from impunity and accountability for extrajudicial killings, including by security forces, to arbitrary arrest and detention, political prisoners’ right to a fair trial and the independence of the judiciary, freedom of assembly and association and media freedom;

DPRK

88.  Welcomes the resolution adopted by the General Assembly that condemns the ‘long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights’ in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and encourages the UN Security Council to take appropriate action to ensure accountability, including by considering the referral of the situation in the DPRK to the International Criminal Court, and calls on the Human Rights Council to reiterate its call for accountability, including by those responsible for crimes against humanity pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state decades ago;

China

89.  Expresses its deep concern at the ongoing sweeping crackdown on human rights activists and human rights lawyers; points out that more than 200 attorneys and legal staff were summoned or taken away since July 2015 for questioning in the fiercest attempt in decades to silence critics of the regime; is alarmed by the news that the Chinese authorities have formally arrested over the last days on ‘subversion’ charges at least seven human rights lawyers and colleagues held in secret for six months;

Myanmar

90.  Welcomes the holding of competitive elections on 8 November 2015, an important milestone in the country’s democratic transition; remains concerned, however, by the constitutional framework for these elections, under which 25 % of the seats in the parliament are reserved for the military; recognises the progress made so far as regards human rights, while identifying a number of remaining areas of major concern, including the rights of minorities and freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;

91.  Condemns the severe and widespread discrimination and repression against the Rohingya, which is exacerbated by the fact that this community lacks legal status, and by the rise of hate speech against non-Buddhists; calls for full, transparent and independent investigations into all reports of human rights violations against the Rohingya and considers that the four laws adopted by the parliament in 2015, aimed at ‘protecting race and religion’, include discriminatory aspects as regards gender; deplores the fact that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has still not been permitted to establish an office in the country; insists on the need for a full sustainability and human rights impact assessment to be carried out before negotiations on the EU-Myanmar investment agreement are finalised;

Nepal

92.  Welcomes the entry into force of the Nepal’s new constitution on 20 September 2015 which should lay the foundation for Nepal’s future political stability and economic development; hopes that the remaining concerns around the political representation of minorities, including the Dalits, and citizenship laws will be addressed in the near future;

93.  Regrets the widespread lack of accountability for human rights abuses committed by both sides during the civil war despite the adoption in May 2014 of the Truth, Reconciliation and Disappearance Act; urges the Government of Nepal to accede to the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; condemns the limitations placed on the fundamental freedoms of Tibetan refugees; urges India to lift its unofficial blockade on Nepal’s economy which, coupled with the devastating earthquake of April 2015, is causing a humanitarian crisis and pushing almost one million more Nepalis into a poverty-related impasse;

°

°  °

94.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 69th UN General Assembly, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Read More

Motion for a resolution on the EU’s priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2016 – B8-2016-0064

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the UN human rights conventions and optional protocols thereto, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–  having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council (UNHRC),

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the United Nations Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the violation of human rights, including its urgency resolutions on the issues,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(1),

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3(5), 18, 21, 27 and 47 of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to the 2015 annual report of the UNHRC to the UN General Assembly,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas 2015 and 2016 are years of major anniversaries as regards the enjoyment of human rights, peace and security: the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the 50th anniversary of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the 40th and 20th anniversaries of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) respectively, and the 15th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security (2000) and the Millennium Development Goals (2000);

B.  whereas upholding respect for human rights irrespective of race, origin, sex, or colour is an obligation on all states; reiterating its attachment to the indivisibility of human rights – whether they are civic, economic, social or cultural –, which are interrelated and interdependent, and considering that the deprivation of any one of these rights has a direct and adverse impact on the others; whereas all states have an obligation to respect the basic rights of their respective populations and a duty to take concrete action to facilitate respect for those rights at national level and to cooperate at international level with a view to eliminating obstacles to the realisation of human rights in all areas;

C.  whereas respect for, and the promotion and safeguarding of, the universality of human rights is part of the European Union’s ethical and legal acquis and one of the cornerstones of European unity and integrity;

D.  whereas the Union’s action in its relations with third countries is guided by Article 21 of the Lisbon Treaty, which reaffirms the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms and provides for respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law;

E.  whereas respect for human rights should be mainstreamed in all policy areas involving peace and security, development cooperation, trade and investment, humanitarian action, climate change and the fight against terrorism, as these cannot be addressed in isolation from respect for human rights;

F.  whereas the regular sessions of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the appointment of Special Rapporteurs, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, and the Special Procedures addressing either the situation in specific countries or thematic issues all contribute to the promotion of and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

G.  whereas, regrettably, some of the current members of the Human Rights Council are acknowledged as being among the worst human rights offenders and have a dubious record in terms of cooperation with the UN Special Procedures and compliance with their reporting requirements vis-à-vis the UN human rights treaty bodies;

UN Human Rights Council

1.  Welcomes the appointment of Ambassador Choi Kyong-lim as President of the UNHRC for 2016;

2.  Welcomes the UNHRC annual report to the UN General Assembly covering its 28th, 29th and 30th sessions;

3.  Reiterates its position that UNHRC members should be elected from among states that uphold respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy, and urges UN member states to promote human-rights-performance-based criteria for any state to be elected as a member of the UNHRC; expresses its concerns about human rights abuses in some newly elected members of the UNHRC and stresses that it is important to defend the independence of the UNHRC so as to ensure that it can continue to exercise its mandate in an effective and impartial manner;

4.  Reiterates its support for the Special Procedures and the independent status of the mandate holders, which enable them to fulfil their function in all impartiality, deeply regrets the lack of cooperation demonstrated by some member states, such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, and observer states, such as Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with thematic special procedures, as well as the lack of cooperation with country-specific special procedures by countries concerned, and calls upon all states to cooperate fully with these procedures;

5.  Reaffirms the importance of the universality of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), with a view to reaching a full understanding of the human rights situation in all UN member states, and reiterates its support for the second cycle of the review, which focuses on the implementation of the recommendations accepted during the first cycle; calls again, however, for the recommendations that were not accepted by states during the first cycle to be reconsidered in the continuation of the UPR process;

6.  Stresses the need to ensure that a wide range of stakeholders, notably civil society, participate fully in the UPR process, and expresses its concern that severe limitations and ever-growing restrictions have hampered civil society’s participation in the UPR process;

7.  Calls for the EU and the Commission to follow up on the UPR recommendations in all EU policy dialogues with the countries concerned in order to explore ways and means of implementing the recommendations through country and regional strategies;

8.  Welcomes the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Initiative for Change, intended to improve and reinforce the global presence of UN human rights offices with the creation of eight regional hubs to monitor and promote respect for human rights by working directly with partners in order to transform the recommendations of the human rights mechanisms into real changes on the ground;

Civil and political rights

9.  Expresses its concern about the constitutional revisions undertaken in some countries, aimed at changing the limit set on presidential terms of office, an issue which has generated election-related violence in some cases; reaffirms that respect for civil and political rights, including individual and collective freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association, are the sole indicators of a democratic, tolerant and pluralistic society;

10.  Reiterates that freely electing political leaders, in periodically held genuine elections on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, is a fundamental right that all citizens should enjoy in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 21(3)) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 25); and reaffirms that freedom of expression and a vibrant and conducive environment for an independent and pluralistic civil society are prerequisites for promoting respect for human rights;

11.  Condemns the continued harassment and detention of human rights defenders and opposition figures by government forces in a number of third countries; expresses its concern about unfair and restrictive legislation, including restrictions on foreign funding, which is resulting in a shrinking space for civil society activities; calls on all governments to promote and support freedom of the media, civil society organisations and the activities of human rights defenders and to allow them to operate without fear, repression or intimidation;

12.  Takes the view that contemporary digital technologies offer advantages and challenges for the protection of the right to privacy and for the exercise of freedom of expression on- line across the world; welcomes, in this context, the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age, whose mandate includes surveillance and privacy issues that affect people online or offline;

13.  Reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty, torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment in all cases and under all circumstances; emphasises once again that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity, and reaffirms its attachment to the right to life and human dignity of every individual;

14.  Commends the substantial progress made so far, whereby many countries have suspended capital punishment while others have taken legislative measures towards abolishing the death penalty; expresses, nevertheless, its regret concerning the reinstatement of executions in some countries over the past few years; calls on those states which have abolished the death penalty or have a long-standing moratorium on the death penalty not to reintroduce it;

Social and Economic Rights

15.  Regrets that, more than 20 years after the adoption of the Vienna Declaration on the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelated nature of all human rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is not treated on the same footing and with the same emphasis as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); recognises the UNHRC’s efforts to put all human rights on an equal footing and give them the same emphasis, through the establishment of Special Procedure mandate holders relating to economic, social and cultural rights;

16.  Expresses its profound concern about the rise of extreme poverty, which jeopardizes the full enjoyment of all human rights; welcomes, in this connection, the UNHRC Special Rapporteur’s report on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/29/31) and supports his proposals for the elimination of extreme poverty, which include: giving economic, social and cultural rights the same prominence and priority as are given to civil and political rights; recognising the right to social protection; implementing fiscal policies specifically aimed at reducing inequality; revitalising and giving substance to the right to equality; and putting questions of resource redistribution at the centre of debates on human rights;

17.  Is of the opinion that corruption, tax evasion, mismanagement of public goods and lack of accountability contribute to the violation of citizens’ human rights as they divert funds from state budgets that should be dedicated to the advancement of human rights in much needed public services such as education, basic health services and other social infrastructure; considers that action to ensure respect for human rights, in particular the rights to information, to freedom of expression and assembly, to an independent judiciary and to democratic participation in public affairs, is instrumental in fighting corruption;

Business and human rights

18.  Strongly supports the effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights within and outside the EU, including through the development of National Action Plans; emphasises the need to take all the necessary measures to address gaps in the effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, including access to justice and remedies;

19.  Calls on the UN and the EU to address the question of land rights defenders, who are victims of reprisals including by threats, harassment, arbitrary arrest, assault and murder, for criticising large-scale land acquisition at the expense of the land and food rights of rural populations in third countries; calls for the UN mechanisms and the EU Action Plan on human rights and democracy to systematically include land rights defenders in their human rights projects;

20.  Welcomes the initiative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to enhance the Accountability and Remedy Project with a view to contributing to a fair and more effective system of domestic law remedies, in particular in cases of gross human rights abuses in the business sector; calls on all governments to fulfil their duties in securing respect for human rights, access to justice for victims who face both practical and legal challenges in gaining access to remedies at national and international levels, with regard to business-related human rights violations;

21.  Notes that an open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) on the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, established by a Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution of 26 June 2014, held its first session in July 2015; calls on the EU and its Member States to actively engage in the negotiations on the abovementioned legally binding international instrument;

Migration

22.  Is concerned by the most serious humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, created by the increasing number of individuals forced to leave their homes as a result of persecution, armed conflict and generalised violence, and in search of protection and a better life, and who are risking their lives by taking dangerous journeys; calls on the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms to pay the necessary attention to the human rights implications of this crisis and to make recommendations in this regard;

23.  Calls on all countries to adopt a human-rights-based approach to migration which places the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees at the centre of migration policies and management, paying particular attention to the situation of marginalised and disadvantaged groups of migrants, such as women and children; calls on all states to address gender-related violence against women and girls, and stresses the importance of designing migration policy from a gender perspective in order to respond to their particular needs;

24.  Recalls that all states have an obligation to respect and protect the human rights of all individuals under their jurisdiction, regardless of their nationality or origin and regardless of their immigration status; recalls that the return of migrants should only be carried out with full respect for the migrants’ rights, based on free and informed decisions and only when the protection of their rights is guaranteed in their country; calls on governments to put an end to the arbitrary arrest and detention of migrants;

Climate change and human rights

25.  Welcomes the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which covers adaptation, mitigation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building; insists that the issue of climate change should be mainstreamed in all economic policy areas; urges all States Parties who are signatories to the Agreement to adopt urgent and ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures by mainstreaming climate change in all policy areas;

26.  Recalls that the adverse impact of climate change represents an immediate and potentially irreversible global threat to the full enjoyment of human rights, and that its impact on vulnerable groups whose rights situation is already precarious is considerable; notes with concern that climate-related incidents such as the rise of sea levels and extreme weather changes provoking droughts and floods are expected to lead to even more loss of life, population displacement, and food and water shortages;

27.  Calls on the international community to address the legal shortfalls in the term ‘climate refugee’, including its possible definition in international law or in any legally binding international agreement;

Women’s rights

28.  Welcomes the UN Security Council’s recent resolution 2242 on women, peace and security, which makes women the central component in all efforts to address global challenges including rising violent extremism, climate change, migration, sustainable development, peace and security; commends the UN Global Study findings on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which stressed the importance of women’s leadership and participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding and that their involvement has improved humanitarian assistance, strengthened peacekeepers’ efforts, fostered the conclusion of peace talks and helped to counter violent extremism;

29.  Expresses its dismay at the fact that, since the emergence of violent extremist groups such as Daesh in Syria and Iraq, and Boko Haram in West Africa, violence against women has taken on a new dimension which is more terrifying than ever, as sexual violence has become an integral part of the objectives, ideology and source of revenue of these extremist groups, and which places a critical new challenge before the international community; calls on all governments and the UN institutions to step up their commitment to combating these abominable crimes and to restoring the dignity of women so that they obtain justice, reparation and support;

30.  Considers that guaranteeing women’s autonomy, by addressing the underlying inequalities between women and men which render women and girls vulnerable in times of conflict, is one way of countering extremism; and calls on the UN and all its member states to take concrete steps to ensure women’s autonomy, their meaningful inclusion in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in the peace negotiation and peacebuilding process by increasing their representation at all decision-making levels, including in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms;

Children’s rights

31.  Recalls that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in 1989 and is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, sets out a number of children’s rights, including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence and discrimination and to have their views heard; calls on all signatories to this treaty to honour their obligations;

32.  Welcomes the planned global study to be launched by the UN to map out, through monitoring and evaluation analysis, how existing international laws and standards are being implemented on the ground and to assess the concrete possibilities for states to improve their policies and responses; urges all states to support and participate actively in the study;

Rights of LGBTI people

33.  Expresses its concern regarding the persistence of discriminatory laws and practices and of acts of violence against individuals in various countries, on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity; encourages close monitoring of the situation of LGBTI people in countries where recently introduced anti-LGBTI laws threaten the lives of sexual minorities; expresses its strong concern regarding the so-called ‘anti-propaganda’ laws limiting freedom of expression and assembly, including in countries on the European continent;

34.  Reaffirms its support for the continuing work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in promoting and protecting the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI people, in particular through statements, reports and the Free & Equal campaign; encourages the High Commissioner to continue fighting discriminatory laws and practices;

Drones and autonomous weapons

35.  Reiterates its call on the EU Council to develop an EU common position on the use of armed drones, giving the utmost importance to respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and addressing issues such as the legal framework, proportionality, accountability, the protection of civilians and transparency; urges the EU, once again, to ban the production, development and use of fully autonomous weapons, which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention; insists that human rights should be part of all dialogues with third countries on counter-terrorism;

EU human rights mainstreaming

36.  Calls upon the EU to promote the universality and indivisibility of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, in accordance with Article 21 of the Lisbon Treaty and the General Provisions on the Union’s External Action;

37.  Reiterates its call for the EU to adopt a rights-based approach and to integrate respect for human rights into trade, investment policies, public services, development cooperation, and its common security and defence policy; stresses also that the EU’s human rights policy should ensure that its internal and external policies are coherent, in line with the EU Treaty obligation;

EU priorities on country-related issues

Belarus

38.  Expresses its profound concern at the continuing restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association and peaceful assembly, condemns the harassment of independent and opposition journalists and the harassment and detention of human rights activists and critics on spurious charges; condemns the continued use of the death penalty; calls for the renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate on the human rights situation in Belarus at the 32nd session of the Council, and calls on the government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to commit to engaging in long-overdue reforms to protect human rights, including by implementing the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur and other human rights mechanisms;

Ukraine

39.  Expresses its grave concern at the continued indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, targeted attacks on schools and use of schools for military purposes by both parties; condemns continued human rights violations in the conflict and fully supports the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine; calls for the Government of Ukraine to take steps to allow delivery of certain types of medicines, including opioid substitution therapy (OST) medicines, to improve the registration procedure and means of accessing employment and state benefits for those displaced by the conflict, to repeal legislation that may have a negative impact on freedom of expression and association, to take concrete measures to prevent the use of schools by armed forces and armed groups in both government-controlled territory and rebel-held areas, and to ratify the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court as a full member; calls on the EU Member States to support all possible efforts at UN level to fight impunity and to conduct impartial investigations into the violent events and human rights violations linked to the crackdown against the Maidan demonstrations, and into the use of cluster munitions by pro-government forces and Russia‑backed rebels during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, and to address the human rights situation in Crimea and other violations related to the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine;

Azerbaijan

40.  Welcomes the joint statement on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan delivered during the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council, but regrets that a number of EU Member States did not support this joint statement; calls on the EU Member States and other members of the Council to closely monitor the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and work towards the adoption of a resolution calling for the immediate release of human rights defenders, political and civil activists, journalists and bloggers who have been arrested or imprisoned on politically motivated charges, full investigation of allegations of torture in detention, and the repeal of laws that unduly restrict freedom of expression, assembly and association in Azerbaijan;

Uzbekistan

41.  Urge the EU Member States to work towards a UN Human Rights Council resolution establishing a dedicated UN mechanism for Uzbekistan to ensure UN monitoring, public reporting and Human Rights Council debates on the human rights situation in Uzbekistan, and to address Uzbekistan’s record of lack of cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms, the continued detention of large numbers of political opponents, including human rights defenders, continued restrictions on freedom of association, freedom of expression and the media, and the continued use of child labour;

Syria

42.  Urges the Human Rights Council to call on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to take appropriate action in order to ensure that those responsible for human rights violations, including violations that may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, are held to account, including through referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court;

Yemen

43.  Expresses great concern about the grave crisis that has been affecting the country since September 2014, when serious violations of the laws of war and human rights abuses were committed by the Houthis and other Yemeni armed groups, and since March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition did the same; in particular, condemns the indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes conducted by the latter coalition, which have killed and wounded scores of civilians and destroyed numerous items of civilian property; whereas the High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected to report to the Council on the situation in Yemen at its next session, in March 2016; calls on the EU to support the establishment at the Human Rights Council of an international inquiry to document violations by all sides since September 2014;

Bahrain

44.  Regrets that no progress has been made by the Government of Bahrain to address concerns related to the continued detention of many, including human rights defenders, political activists and journalists, for exercising rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the lack of accountability for human rights violations including torture and the lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain; Calls upon the EU Member States to address the human rights situation in Bahrain at the Human Rights Council through individual statements, a follow up joint statement or a resolution urging Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release of all human rights defenders, political activists and other individuals detained and charged with alleged violations related to the rights of expression, peaceful assembly and association enact and to ensure impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and to swiftly facilitate the visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other UN human rights mechanisms; reiterates its call for the EU to develop a comprehensive strategy on how the Union and its Member States can actively push for the release of the imprisoned activists and prisoners of conscience;

South Sudan

45.  Calls on the Human Rights Council to support the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on South Sudan, with a mandate to monitor and publicly report on violations, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and on military use of schools, and make recommendations for achieving effective accountability;

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

46.  Welcomes the resolution adopted by the General Assembly condemning the ‘long‑standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights’ in the DPRK and encouraging the UN Security Council to take appropriate action to ensure accountability, including through consideration of referral of the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the International Criminal Court, and calls on the Human Rights Council to reiterate its call for accountability, including of those responsible for crimes against humanity pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state for decades;

Countries under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Georgia

47.  Welcomes Georgia’s membership of the UNHRC and the recent UPR on Georgia; notes the meaningful legislative reforms that have resulted in some progress and improvements with regard to the justice and law enforcement sector, the Prosecutor’s Office, the fight against ill-treatment, children’s rights, the protection of privacy and personal data and internally displaced persons (IDPs); notes, however, that further efforts are needed with regard to ill-treatment, especially regarding pre-trial detention and rehabilitation of victims, to accountability for abuses by law enforcement agencies, to investigations into past abuses by government officials and to minorities and women’s rights; remains concerned about freedom of expression and the media and the lack of access by monitors to the occupied regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, where human rights violations remain widespread; and calls on the Georgian Government to take appropriate measures with a view to ensuring a follow-up to the recommendations made in the UPR process;

Lebanon

48.  Commends Lebanon for the open border and reception policy which it has had for years regarding refugees from Palestine, Iraq and Syria, and calls on the European Union to allocate more resources and to work closely with the Lebanese authorities to help the country uphold the protection of the rights of refugees and asylum seekers; is concerned, in this context, about the reportedly significant number of cases of child and/or forced marriages among Syrian refugees; encourages the Lebanese Government to consider a reform of the law regulating entry into, residence in and exit from Lebanon, which does not distinguish between asylum seekers and refugees on the one hand and migrants on the other; supports the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in calling for measures to raise awareness among women migrant domestic workers of their human rights under the CEDAW Convention, to which Lebanon is a state party; emphasises, in particular, the need to abolish the ‘Kafala system’ and ensure effective access to justice for women migrant domestic workers, including by guaranteeing their safety and residence during legal and administrative procedures relating to their status;

Mauritania

49.  Stresses that, while progress has been made by the Mauritanian Government in legislative measures aimed at fighting all forms of slavery and slavery-like practices, the lack of effective implementation contributes to the persistence of such practices; calls on the authorities to enact an anti-slavery law, to initiate nationwide, systematic and regular collection of disaggregated data on all forms of slavery and to conduct a thorough evidence-based study on the history and nature of slavery in order to eradicate the practice;

50.  Urges the Mauritanian authorities to allow freedom of speech and assembly, in accordance with international conventions and Mauritania’s own domestic law; calls also for the release of Biram Dah Abeid, Bilal Ramdane and Djiby Sow so that they may continue their non-violent campaign against the continuation of slavery without fear of harassment or intimidation;

Myanmar

51.  Welcomes the holding of competitive elections on 8 November 2015, an important milestone in the country’s democratic transition; remains concerned, however, by the constitutional framework for these elections, which reserves 25 % of the seats in the Parliament for the military; recognises the progress made so far as regards human rights, while identifying a number of remaining areas of major concern, including the rights of minorities and freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;

52.  Condemns the discrimination against the Rohingya, which is exacerbated by the fact that this community lacks legal status and by the rise of hate speech against non-Buddhists; calls for full, transparent and independent investigations into all reports of human rights violations against the Rohingya and considers that the four laws adopted by the parliament in 2015 aimed at ‘protecting race and religion’ have discriminatory aspects as regards gender; repeats its request that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) be permitted to establish an office in the country; insists on the need for a full sustainability impact assessment to be carried out before negotiations on the EU – Myanmar investment agreement are finalised;

Nepal

53.  Welcomes the entry into force on 20 September 2015 of Nepal’s new constitution, which should lay the foundations for the country’s future political stability and economic development; hopes that the remaining concerns around the political representation of minorities, including the Dalits, and citizenship laws will be addressed in the near future; regrets the widespread lack of accountability for human rights abuses committed by both sides during the civil war despite the adoption in May 2014 of the Truth, Reconciliation and Disappearance Act; urges the Government of Nepal to accede to the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; condemns the limitations placed on the fundamental freedoms of Tibetan refugees; urges India to lift its unofficial blockade on Nepal’s economy which, coupled with the devastating earthquake of April 2015, is causing a humanitarian crisis and pushing almost one million more Nepalis into a poverty impasse;

Oman

54.  Commends Oman for the setting-up of the governmental National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the invitation which allowed the ground-breaking visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Peaceful Assembly in September 2014; expresses the hope that these constructive steps will lead to a more intensive engagement by Oman with UN human rights representatives and independent human rights organisations; encourages Oman to take the necessary steps to alleviate what the UN Special Rapporteur described as a pervasive climate of fear and intimidation in the country, stating that individuals were ‘afraid to speak their minds, afraid to speak on the telephone, afraid to meet’; remains concerned about, and calls on the government to reconsider, in this context, the ban on all political parties and the new nationality law adopted in August 2014, which stipulates that citizens joining groups deemed harmful to national interests could have their citizenship revoked; calls on the EU Institutions and the Member States to offer technical and legal assistance to help Oman create a safe and enabling environment for civil society organisations;

Rwanda

55.  Expresses its concern about the human rights situation in Rwanda, including the restrictions on freedom of expression and association, the shrinking of the democratic space for opposition political parties and independent civil society activities, and the absence of a conducive environment for the independence of the judiciary; calls on the Rwandan Government to open up a democratic space in which all segments of society may operate freely;

56.  Is concerned by the proposed constitutional change aimed at allowing the incumbent President to run for a third term; calls on the Government of Rwanda to uphold the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, Article 5 of which lays down that states parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure constitutional rule, particularly constitutional transfer of power, and Article 23 of which states that any amendment of the constitution which infringes on the principles of democratic change of government is illegal;

°

°  °

57.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 69th UN General Assembly, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Read More

Zimbabwe Online News is an interactive website which compiles all form of news and press releases for the visitors.

Read More!

Zimbabwe Online News Copyright © 2017