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4 November 2008 - Item 58 - Report of the Human Rights Council - Statement delivered by H.E. Mr Jean-Maurice RIPERT

Statement delivered by H.E. Mr Jean-Maurice RIPERT, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- unofficial translation -

Mr. President,

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

First, we would like to thank Ambassador Martin Iheoghian Uhomoibhi for submitting the Human Rights Council’s third annual report. We would also like to thank Ambassador Doru Costea, former President of the Human Rights Council, who was in office for the most of the period covered in this report.

Pursuant to the decision taken by Heads of State and Government during the Summit on the United Nations reform, in 2005, the General Assembly, subsequent to its Resolution 60/251 of 2006, decided to create the Human Rights Council to replace the former Commission. Our objective was to improve United Nations human rights protection mechanisms in order to make it a mainstay of our Organisation. We all know that peace, security, development and human rights complement each other, and are mutually reinforcing. It is through their joint promotion that we will strengthen collective well-being.

The Human Rights Council has been entrusted with a challenging mandate - to ensure the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, as well as to intervene directly in serious situations of violations, to make recommendations to end them and to guarantee that human rights are taken into account in all UN policies. The principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity must guide the Council’s work, which is based on increasingly greater cooperation among States. These are the guiding principles that must direct us at this Assembly as we the review of this report.

Since its establishment in 2006, the Human Rights Council has had the opportunity to address numerous issues in its work, some of which represented major developments in the area of protecting human rights. We reiterate that it is within the framework of the Human Rights Council that the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Draft Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance were drawn up, as was, still more recently, the draft additional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Three special sessions were held over the past year, one of which dealt with the right to food and another was on the situation in Burma, which remains of very serious concern. Regarding the issue of human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories addressed at the special session held in January 2008, the European Union reaffirms the need to have this situation debated at the Human Rights Council, but urges its members to come up with balanced solutions.

The Human Rights Council’s mechanisms must be consolidated through the commitment of everyone concerned. The European Union is convinced that these special procedures are one of the Council’s key tools for its action on the ground and the European Union feels sure that the seriousness of the situation in some countries justifies maintaining these procedures. It must be reaffirmed that the primary objective of these special procedures is to promote expertise and to make recommendations in order to ensure greater respect for human rights. We call upon the Council not to lower its guard in terms of the situations that deserve our full attention.

The universal periodic review is also an innovative mechanism set up by the Human Rights Council that should help improve the human rights situation on the ground through dialogue and cooperation.

Since its inception, thirty-two States were reviewed, seven of which are from the European Union. We commend the seriousness with which these thirty-two countries have undertaken this exercise and we hope that the forthcoming sessions will give rise to a similar level of commitment.

Although some positive developments have been noted, many situations still deserve our full attention at the upcoming sessions. Forty-eight States will be under review at the universal periodic review. The European Union wishes that the experience of the two previous sessions will help improve the current one and hopes that the States under review will submit to the Council in good-faith and with all necessary rigour. In the future, the universal periodic review should be consolidated to guarantee that the recommendations and pledges made by States under review are effectively implemented.

Mr. President,

Due to the regularity of its meetings, the Human Rights Council is a virtually permanent entity with a broad and challenging mandate. Its past action has given us a glimpse into its great future possibilities.

However, in order to translate these words into tangible actions, we must ensure that the Human Rights Council and its institutions can run smoothly. We should all pledge to work towards this end. The European Union calls for members of the United Nations to maintain close cooperation in the spirit of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity. It is the heritage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose 60th birthday will be celebrated and which must remain our common landmark. It is also in this way that the encouraging outcomes that we have already had within the Council can show real progress in the effective enjoyment of human rights around the globe.

Mr. President, thank you very much./

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU