Statement on behalf of the European union delivered by Mr Philippe DELACROIX, Coordinator for the French Presidency of the European Union in New York
unofficial translation -
I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The candidate countries Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Montenegro, as well as Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The General Assembly, which embodies the United Nations’ universality, cannot remain indifferent when faced with human rights violations around the world. Further to the Human Right Council’s action, this Assembly, which 60 years ago adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, must react to and redress these violations.
The European Union reiterates its belief that no serious human rights violation should escape UN Member States’ scrutiny. These situations must be reviewed in straightforward and open discussions with the countries concerned. However, when these countries turn a deaf ear to the repeated calls by the international community; when they refuse to cooperate and continue to openly flout the most basic rights of their populations, the international community cannot remain acquiescent and must give priority to these situations.
This is why the European Union wishes to draw your attention to the human rights situations in Burma/Myanmar and to that of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by submitting resolutions on these situations, which are justified by the seriousness and extent of violations committed in these countries, as well as to the urgency with which this Assembly must act.
In Burma/Myanmar, the population is still facing an extremely difficult situation that Cyclone Nargis has only worsened. In this respect, the European Union recalls the key role that the United Nations and ASEAN are playing in the area of humanitarian aid. NGOs must be able to work freely in this country and have access to disaster victims. Furthermore, the situation of political prisoners, their arrest and detention conditions are matters of great concern. The Burmese authorities have not responded to calls from the international community, and notably those of the Security Council, to release all political prisoners, in particular Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, and to initiate a truly inclusive democratization and national reconciliation in Burma/Myanmar. The European Union supports the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General, and again calls upon the Burmese authorities to implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana, as well as those included in the latest resolution that the Human Rights Council adopted by consensus.
The human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has not improved. It has been marked by serious and systematic violations of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Furthermore, the humanitarian situation is extremely fragile in North Korea. The European Union is worried about allegations of severe punishments for North Korean citizens attempting to flee their country. It is also worried by the situation of North Korean refugees and calls upon the host countries to comply with their commitments in terms of international humanitarian law. The European Union once again calls upon the North Korean authorities to cooperate with the relevant United Nations mechanisms, in particular with Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn, the Special Rapporteur, and to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community. The European Union is also concerned about the situation of North Korean refugees and calls upon the host countries to comply with their commitments with respect to international humanitarian law. We reiterate that, pursuant the responsibility agreed by consensus at the 2005 World Summit, it is a country’s primary responsibility to protect its civil population from mass atrocities.
The human rights situation in Sudan is extremely worrying as well. Human rights there continue to be flouted. In some regions, such as Darfur, international human rights violations have been observed all too often. The European Union renews its request for the perpetrators of these atrocities to appear before a court and recalls that the fight against impunity must be a high priority for the Sudanese government. The European Union reaffirms that the principle of cooperation with the ICC is not negotiable. It reiterates its appeal to the Government of Sudan to fully cooperate with the ICC, to implement the decisions made by the Judges of the International Criminal Court. The European Union is concerned by the continually worsening security situation, which is affecting humanitarian operations and the situation of the local populations. The European Union condemned the attack on the Kalma camp and the operations initiated by the Sudanese forces this past September in various areas of the Djebel Marra, which included the use of aircraft painted white to intentionally create confusion between these aircraft and those used by the UN and humanitarian workers.
The European Union calls upon Sudan to continue its cooperation with the UN and AU to step up deployment of the UNAMID in Darfur. It also calls on all parties to commit themselves to searching for a political solution that puts an end to violence. The renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate on the human rights situation in Sudan in 2007 illustrated the international communities’ concern for the declining security and humanitarian situation in this country, and the European Union welcomes the extension of his mandate.
The European Union remains concerned about the situation of internal conflict in Sri Lanka where the human rights situation is deteriorating, in particular as regards human rights violations. All parties in the conflict are responsible for taking concrete measures to guarantee the safety and freedom of movement of civilians and enable humanitarian organizations to safely carry out their work. The resumption of the recruitment and use of child soldiers is a major cause for concern, which is why the European Union calls upon authorities to step up their efforts. The European Union is also concerned about violations of freedom of expression and the intimidation of and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka. It calls upon the government to guarantee the freedom of press, freedom of expression and to protect journalists. Full cooperation with the appropriate United Nations bodies and mechanisms is a precondition for fighting impunity and human rights violations.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the European Union welcomes the cooperation of authorities with the International Criminal Court, which enabled a third warlord to be arrested and transferred to the Hague, where he has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, the EU is deeply concerned that human rights continue to be violated in the country, and thus remains extremely troubled by the widespread and systematic nature of sexual violence against women, especially in the east of the country. Rape should never be used as a weapon of war, and we must remain alert in order to fight against this barbaric practice, particularly by stepping up the fight against impunity. Secondly, the resumption of the recruitment and use of child soldiers is a major cause for concern, which is why the European Union calls upon authorities to step up their efforts. Lastly, the situation of human rights defenders remains particularly problematic. The EU is looking forward to a report on thematic special procedures to follow up to the situation in the DRC, as well as the High Commissioner’s report, both of which are due out in March 2009.
The European Union is also concerned by the serious human rights violations in Iran. The growing number of executions alarms the EU, including of people who were minors at the time of their offence. It is also troubled that death sentences by stoning are still being carried out. Furthermore, members of religious and ethnic minorities are victims of discrimination and systematic repression. The situation of the Bah