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Discussion on a motion for a resolution of the European Parliament on the seventh session of the UN Human Rights Council - statement by State Secretary Janez Lenarčič on behalf of the EU Council

Distinguished Members of the European Parliament,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak about the Human Rights Council. By placing this item on the plenary session agenda, the European Parliament is acknowledging the importance that the European Union attaches to the UN Human Rights Council as a global body for the protection and promotion of human rights.

The European Union is a strong advocate of an efficient Human Rights Council. We have made great efforts to ensure that the form it took in the end would provide a sound basis for fast and effective response to serious human rights violations. With the adoption last December of the Human Rights Council’s institution-building package at the UN General Assembly, it is now time for the Council to deliver.

The Sixth Session of the Council, held in September and December 2007, produced some good and significant results. 

The Seventh Session of the Human Rights Council will be held next month in Geneva (3-28 March, 2008)

The agendas for the Seventh and the Eighth Session (to take place within the first two weeks of June 2008) will also have to include the extension of as many as 25 special rapporteurs’ mandates, their regular reports and cases of particular alarming situations of human rights in certain countries or in certain subject areas.

The European Union regards the renewal of the mandates of the special rapporteurs for Burma/Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Somalia at the Seventh Session of the Human Rights Council as being of key importance. The EU will use the opportunities provided by the Council to draw attention to the disturbing human rights situation elsewhere in the world. In this context, the EU will engage in interactive dialogues with individual special rapporteurs and with the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The interactive dialogues are an important new instrument available to the Council, one which the EU will further strive to establish as one of the key means offered by the regular Human Rights Council sessions to address particular issues.
Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

As you know, Slovenia listed intercultural dialogue as one of its Presidency priorities. We are particularly pleased that the Seventh Session of the Human Rights Council is to give the issue due attention. The invitation extended to Mr Sampaio, the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations, helps enhance the awareness that the activities of the Alliance of Civilisations make a contribution to religious tolerance, which is one of the EU’s priorities in the field of human rights.

Allow me to point out yet another extremely important event within the Human Rights Council, namely the beginning of the Universal Periodic Review, which is of great importance to the EU because this instrument is designed to provide the opportunity to review the human rights situation in all UN Member States on an equal basis. The EU Member States that will already be subject to this mechanism this spring (in April and May) are undergoing thorough preparations for the review. We will strive for maximum transparency and efficiency of the process must be ensured, because the manner in which the review is conducted will have significant repercussions on the overall credibility of the Human Rights Council.

Thank you.


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Date: 20.02.2008