Motion for a resolution - B7-0061/2013Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Parliament's position for the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

5.2.2013 - (2013/2533(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Marie-Christine Vergiat, Willy Meyer on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

Procedure : 2013/2533(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Debates :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on Parliament's position for the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the European Convention on Human Rights of 1953,

–   having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000 (A/Res/55/2) and the resolutions adopted by its General Assembly,

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

–   having regard to its urgent resolutions on human rights and democracy,

–   having regard to the forthcoming 22nd session of the UNHRC, to be held from 25 February to 22 March 2013 at the United Nations Office in Geneva,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, 60 years after the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the fight against discrimination and for the full realisation of all human rights – social, economic, cultural, civil and political – remains a daily struggle;  

B.  whereas economic, social and cultural rights are an integral part of human rights and their observance leads, at the minimum, to full implementation of the eight Millennium Development Goals from the year 2000, namely: ‘eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development’; whereas an ambitious timetable was set for these goals to be achieved by 2015, but they are currently very far from being achieved;

C. whereas the European Union and its Member States should guarantee respect for human rights in all their policies, both internal and external, and ensure that they are consistent, in order to enhance and render credible the European Union’s position at the UNHRC;

D. whereas, despite its shortcomings, the UNHRC is an important platform for the discussion of human rights and the fight against human rights violations;

E.  whereas a delegation from the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights will travel to Geneva for the 22nd ordinary session of the UNHRC, following the practice of previous years for UNHRC sessions and, before that, those of the UN Commission on Human Rights;

The work and organisation of the UNCHR

1.  Reiterates its call on the EU Member States actively to oppose any attempt to undermine the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, and actively to encourage the UNHRC to address discrimination on all grounds, including gender, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief in the same way;

2.  Warns against exploitation of the UNHRC; emphasises the importance of its country-specific resolutions in addressing serious human rights violations; underlines the importance of evaluating human rights situations in an objective, transparent, non-selective, constructive and non-confrontational manner, on the basis of reliable information obtained by means of interactive dialogue, and in keeping with the concepts of universality and equal treatment for all States; calls on the EU Member States to contribute actively to the implementation of these agreed principles concerning the UNHRC;

3.  Underlines the importance of tackling the root causes of political instability in certain countries by means of development policies that are in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other socio-economic, political and cultural measures which can create an environment conducive to preventing the resurgence of conflict, and which aim to eliminate poverty, foster economic, social and cultural development, create institutional and administrative capacities, improve the quality of life of the population and consolidate the rule of law exclusively by peaceful means;

4.  Notes the election of the 18 new members of the UNHRC in September 2012, which took effect on 1 January 2013: Argentina, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Spain, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Montenegro, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and notes that nine EU countries will be members of the UNHRC; notes that the State of Israel has opted not to join the UNHRC;

5.  Observes that the three-year mandate of the Republic of Kazakhstan as a member of the UNHRC runs from 1 January 2013; recalls that, according to the General Assembly in its Resolution 60/251, members of the Council ‘shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights’ and stresses that, in the context of the Zhanaozen massacres of December 2011, the human rights situation in Kazakhstan has deteriorated further, as demonstrated by the recent ban on opposition media imposed in December 2012, calls on the UNHRC to do everything possible to remedy this situation at its next meeting and to urge Kazakhstan to release without delay the prisoners convicted for political reasons and put an end to politically motivated arrests accompanied by charges of ‘inciting social discord’;

Promotion and protection of all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural, including the right to development

Economic, social and cultural rights

6.  Welcomes the importance assigned during the 22nd session of the UNHRC to promoting and protecting economic and social rights and the issue of the interdependence of human rights; again stresses the need to treat economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights on a footing of equality; emphasises that high unemployment rates, the increase in poverty and social exclusion, increasingly problematic access to affordable public services in the fields of health, education, housing, transport and culture, and the deteriorating quality of such services constitute major challenges; points out that privatisation and liberalisation have played a part in making some of these entitlements less accessible, that this trend needs to be reversed, and that better wealth distribution, decent wages and high-quality employment are important ways of solving these problems; observes similarly that the austerity plans established both by EU Member States and in other countries, including under pressure from the EU, have merely aggravated inequalities and poverty;

7.  Welcomes the importance assigned to ‘housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living’, calls on the EU and the delegations of its Member States to promote access to high-quality housing for all as a fundamental right and to assess the issue of access to housing within the EU (particularly since the beginning of the crisis and the introduction of austerity measures) in order to commit itself to resolving this endemic problem, which has become even worse in recent years;

8.  Points out that the UN member states should do more to encourage access to essential natural resources and land, and to promote food sovereignty and food security as an instrument for reducing poverty and unemployment; deplores the fact that a significant number of people do not have or no longer have access to certain resources including basic commodities such as water, due to the hoarding of these resources by companies or private entities, who are supported by the political authorities in the countries concerned, causing, in particular, food shortages and rises in food prices; calls, therefore, on the EU delegation and the delegations of the Member States to take the necessary measures to put an end to the monopolisation of resources, particularly land, especially by European undertakings, and to put forward proposals in international and regional fora and conferences (World Bank, WTO, UNCTAD, IMF, OECD, etc.) for recognising fundamental public goods and including them in a specific UN convention; calls, furthermore, on the EU and its Member States to support efforts to secure the implementation, and acquisition of binding force, of UN General Assembly Resolution No 64/292 of 28 July 2010 recognising water as a basic human right, and to do everything possible to ensure that those efforts are successful;

9.  Emphasises that EU policies on migration, as well as support for undemocratic regimes on the pretext of ‘good governance’ and of purely economic partnership agreements undermine human rights and, indeed, the Union’s international credibility; calls once again on the Member States of the European Union to implement the democracy and human rights clauses in all the international agreements, of whatever nature, and to guarantee respect for human rights in their own internal and external policies, without which the position of the EU in the UNHRC and in any other international forum dealing with human rights would be weakened;

Civil and political rights

10. Emphasises the importance of continuing the work on global practices relating, in particular, to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism; calls on the EU Member States to follow up the existing reports effectively, in line with Parliament’s previous stances on the issue, especially its resolutions on the use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation, illegal detention and torture of prisoners;

11. Calls on all States to combat torture, including within their territory; calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of its Member States to include in the debate on torture and other inhuman and degrading punishments and treatments the issue of banning trade in products which can be used for purposes of torture, both inside and outside the European Union;

12. Calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of its Member States to reaffirm their opposition to the death penalty and their advocacy of its universal abolition and an immediate moratorium in those countries where it is still used; is concerned to see that a certain number of countries which had suspended capital punishment have started to carry out it out again;

Rights of peoples and individuals

13. Stresses once again the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination and to choose their own political, economic and social policies without external interference; calls on the European Union and its Member States, on the occasion of the 22nd session of the UNHRC, to resolutely promote this right instead of the current policies;

14. Expresses its concern about the deterioration in the situation of human rights defenders, activists, organisations and institutions and with regard to journlists, in various forms and at various levels, worldwide;

15. Calls on the EU and its Member States, as a priority, to work towards practical action by the UNHRC to put an end to human rights violations affecting civilians, particularly women and children, in wars and situations of violent conflict, calls for priority action to be taken, in particular, to halt the recruitment of child soldiers and to protect them;

16. Welcomes the process of monitoring, in connection with Report A/HRC/19/41 by the High Commissioner, of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against persons on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity; calls, furthermore, for monitoring, particularly by means of regional meetings and active participation in this process by Member States; calls for specific protection measures to be implemented for them, including with regard to political asylum and consular protection;

17. Highlights that the definition of slavery provided by the UN is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised; deplores the fact that modern forms of slavery survive, including within the European Union; stresses that persons who fall victim to it are particularly vulnerable and that for this reason they deserve specific protection, calls therefore on the EU delegation and the delegations of its Member States to work towards a far stronger policy on this subject, particularly as regards domestic workers, who are the section of the working population most affected by these forms of slavery, including by ensuring that diplomatic protection does not serve as a pretext for preventing prosecution of those who breach human rights in this way;

Interdependence of human rights and thematic issues relating to human rights

18. Is greatly concerned about the deteriorating situation with regard to human rights and civil liberties which is being brought about under the pretext of fighting terrorism and, increasingly, serious crime, without these concepts being clearly defined, which is also happening in the EU or by means of specific agreements with certain States where human rights standards are not applied, and is particularly concerned about the violation in this field of standards relating to data protection and protection of privacy;

19. Deplores the fact that the international community has still not launched negotiations with a view to concluding an international agreement on protection of personal data, for which Convention 108 of the Council of Europe could serve as an example, and calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of the Member States to work to devise such a framework, in cooperation with their international counterparts;

20. Condemns the substantial use being made – in the field of what are dubbed ‘security’ policies – of private military or security undertakings to exercise sovereign powers which only States have the authority to wield, and calls on the European Union and its Member States to step up their efforts to put an end to these practices; considers that, in this field and under the responsibility of States, private military and security undertakings should apply human rights standards, particularly with regard to data protection and respect for private life; considers that, where public-service tasks are transferred, both States and undertakings should be held responsible for breaches of human rights and humanitarian law committed by the staff of such undertakings;

Human rights situations requiring the attention of the Council

21. Notes the call by the UNHRC on the High Commissioner to submit to it, at its 22nd session, a written report on the human rights situation in Mali, particularly in its northern part, calls for a complete assessment of the atrocities and crimes committed in Mali by all the forces present, and calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of the Member States to commit themselves to promoting peaceful solutions to the conflicts instead of unilateral armed interventions, the course opted for in Mali;

22. Notes that the human rights situation in Iran is continuing to deteriorate; notes that repression directed against peaceful demonstrators and dissidents (including students, academics and human rights defenders), women’s rights activists, lawyers, journalists, bloggers and members of religious orders is commonplace there; stresses the prime role which should be played by the international community in guaranteeing peace; is seriously concerned about the constant deterioration in the human rights situation in Iran, the growing number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, the persistently large number of executions, including of minors, torture, unfair trials and the exorbitant sums demanded as bail, and the severe restrictions on freedom of information, expression, assembly, religion, education and movement; believes that a visit by a UN Special Rapporteur may help to establish an overview of the human rights situation in Iran; notes with concern that Iran has not permitted any visit by special rapporteurs or by the High Commission for Human Rights since 2005; calls on Iran to honour its stated intention to allow a visit during 2013 by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed;

23. Recognises the on-going political and civil reforms of rights which are taking place in Burma, but calls on the authorities to step up their efforts, particularly by releasing political prisoners, and to combat intercommunal violence as a matter of urgency; expresses its deep concern regarding the violence in Rakhine State, which is a long-standing consequence of the discriminatory policies against the Rohingyas; calls for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar to be extended for a further year;

24. Regrets that the situation in Latin America, particularly Honduras and Paraguay, has not been included in this debate; calls for the human rights situation in Honduras and Paraguay since the coups d’état to be genuinely monitored and for everything possible to be done to restore democracy and the rule of law in those countries, calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of its Member States to work towards a condemnation of the coups d’état, not to recognise de facto governments and to demand that those responsible be brought to justice; calls, likewise, for an inquiry into the attempted coups d’état in other Latin American countries (e.g. Ecuador) and for all those responsible, including third countries, to be identified;

25. Observes that Colombia remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a trade union or political activist, and that human rights violations, including violations of the rights of students, activists of opposition parties, farmers, women and children, continue to meet with almost total impunity; opposes therefore the ratification of the free trade agreement with that country; strongly condemns the fact that the Intelligence Agency (DAS), which depends directly on the President of the Republic, has carried out regular phone-tapping and illegal activity aimed at discrediting senior judges, opposition Members of Parliament and human rights defenders, recalls that the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, people residing in Europe and NGOs have also been targeted; requests that these serious offences do not go unpunished; calls on the European Union to apply the recommendations concerning Colombia made in the report of the Committee against Torture;

26. Regrets similarly that the issue of human rights in Turkey has not been placed on the agenda; is concerned, more particularly, about the deterioration in the democratic situation in that country and the rise in repression of democrats, elected office-holders and political activists, trade unionists, journalists, human rights defenders and artists, and notes that this repression is particularly directed against Kurds; calls on the EU delegation to ensure that this debate is launched during the 22nd session of the UNHRC and that explicit support is lent to the resumption of debates on the peace process;

27. Reiterates its condemnation of the persistent human rights violations caused by the continuing occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey, and is particularly concerned about the situation of refugees, people living in enclaves and the families of disappeared persons; stresses that the occupation is directly linked to the deprivation of access to, and use of, landed property; calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of its Member States to denounce these ongoing violations, to condemn the presence of Turkish troops and colonists, to call for an immediate end to the occupation of Cypriot territory by the Turkish army and of the policy of seeking to alter the demography of the Republic of Cyprus, and stresses that these violations constitute war crimes; calls on Turkey to authorise access to the military zones with the aim of checking on the fate of disappeared persons;

28. Calls on the UNHRC to take practical measures arising from the report of the Internal Review Panel on United Nations action in Sri Lanka published in November 2012, which states in particular that, as regards the situation of civilians caught up in the civil war in recent months, the United Nations has failed in its responsibilities, calls on the UNHRC to condemn the increase in attacks on democratic rights in Sri Lanka, including freedom of expression and of the media, freedom of association and the right to free and fair elections, and to call for a solution to the conflict based on respect for democracy and human rights, including the right of self-determination of the Tamil people; calls on the UNHRC to consider, and express its concern about, the plan to revoke Amendment 13 to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which accords a certain regional autonomy to the north and east of the island;

29. Deplores the fact that the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not being raised at this conference, calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of the Member States to raise the issue during the debate on situations requiring the attention of the UNHRC, to condemn all acts of violence and all breaches of human rights in the east of DRC and in the Great Lakes Region, to express its solidarity with all population groups suffering because of the war, and to call on all forces involved in the fighting in the east of DRC to respect human rights and international humanitarian law and halt all attacks on civilians;

Human rights situation in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories

30. Welcomes the special attention being devoted at this 22nd session to the human rights situation in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories, particularly the right of self-determination of the the Palestinian people; strongly encourages the EU delegation to condemn all forms of colonialism, particularly in Palestine;

31. Recalls the European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2010 on the situation in Western Sahara; calls on Morocco and the Polisario Front to continue the negotiations with a view to a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara and reaffirms the right of self-determination of the Saharawi people, which must be decided by a democratic referendum in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, condemns the continuing violations of the human rights of the Saharawi people, calls for the release of Saharawi political prisoners, particularly the Gdeim Izik 23 group, who were tried by a military tribunal;

32. Deplores the fact that the European Union has not yet implemented the recommendations in the Goldstone Report; calls once again on the EU Member States to work towards a strong EU common position on the follow-up to the Goldstone Report, publicly calling for accountability for the alleged crimes and urging Israel to conduct investigations that meet international standards of independence, impartiality, transparency, promptness and effectiveness, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/64/10; considers that the Middle East peace process cannot progress without accountability and justice, and that the investigations initiated so far fail to meet those requirements; insists that the EU include the follow-up to the Goldstone Report in its dialogues with Israel;

33. Supports the people’s movements in many Arab countries seeking social justice and social, economic and political rights in those countries; regrets that the fall of dictators such as Ben Ali or Mubarak did not bring about any profound and rapid change in these policies, and is concerned about the trend in human rights abuses in certain countries, such as Egypt;

Technical assistance and capacity building

34. Notes the point concerning technical cooperation in the field of human rights in Afghanistan; calls on the EU delegation and the delegations of its Member States to denounce the fact that the NATO occupation of Afghanistan has not improved the human rights situation in that country; calls on the UNHRC to work for the establishment of a committee of inquiry under UN auspices and for the initiation of legal proceedings in respect of the war crimes with regard to which the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction and the atrocities and murders of civilians perpetrated in Iraq and Afghanistan; strongly condemns the use of violence by the Iraqi authorities against peaceful demonstrators and deplores the large number of persons killed and wounded; condemns all forms of violence against social, political or religious groups, condemns all the murders and executions since the beginning of the war in 2003, deplores the latest wave of terrorist attacks, considers that one of the main results of the American invasion of Iraq has been the almost total collapse of public order and the proliferation of human rights violations, calls on the Iraqi Government to abolish the death penalty, and draws attention to the urgent need to solve the humanitarian problems of the Iraqi people;

35. Condemns, similarly, the armed intervention in Libya, under the aegis of NATO, and stresses that, far from stabilising, the situation seems on the contrary to have been deteriorating since the ‘official end’ of the war, leading to a partitioning of the country, inability of the State to prevent violence, a rise in racist crimes and a lack of justice and democracy; hopes that the UNHRC will be able to carry out an independent and impartial inquiry into the human rights situation in the country which will ascertain the responsibilities of all the forces which have participated in the conflict;

36. Notes the debate on the human rights situation in Haiti, and calls on the EU and its Member States to stress the need to provide an assessment of the aid sent to Haiti and the genuine implementation of the plan for the reconstruction of the country promoted by the United Nations;

37. Notes the point concerning assistance to Côte d’Ivoire; considers, here too, that an objective and impartial evaluation of developments in the human rights situation in the country, particularly since the occupation of the country by the French Army, needs to be performed;


o o

38. Mandates its delegation to the 16th session of the UNHRC to voice the concerns expressed in this resolution, calls on the delegation to report to the Subcommittee on Human Rights when its work is completed, and considers it appropriate to continue sending a European Parliament delegation to relevant sessions of the UNHRC;

39. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the European Union, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU-UN Working Group established by the Committee on Foreign Affairs.