Motion for a resolution - B8-0050/2016Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on EU priorities for the UNHRC sessions in 2016

14.1.2016 - (2015/3035(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 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Andrzej Grzyb, Cristian Dan Preda, Therese Comodini Cachia, Mariya Gabriel, László Tőkés, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Davor Ivo Stier, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Fernando Ruas, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Theodoros Zagorakis, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso on behalf of the PPE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0050/2016

Procedure : 2015/3035(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on EU priorities for the UNHRC sessions in 2016


The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the violation of human rights, including its resolutions on debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (pursuant to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure),

–  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 of 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);

B.  whereas upholding respect for human rights irrespective of race, origin, religion, sex or colour is an obligation on all states, whereas it reiterates its attachment to the indivisibility of human rights (whether civic, political, economic, social or cultural), which are interrelated and interdependent, and whereas the deprivation of any one of these rights has an 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 UN 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 UN member states have adopted and committed to Agenda 2030, which envisages a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination;

G.  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 Procedure addressing either specific country situations or thematic issues all contribute to the promotion of, and respect for, human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

H.  whereas some of the current members of the UNHRC have a dubious human rights record, including in terms of cooperation with the UN Special Procedures and compliance with 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’s annual report to the UN General Assembly covering its 28th, 29th and 30th sessions;

3.  Reiterates its position that UNHRC members should be elected among states which uphold respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy, and reminds UN member states to promote, among other things, human-rights-performance-based criteria for any state to be elected as a member of the UNHRC; calls for the development of binding procedures for verifying compliance with UNHRC membership criteria; expresses its concerns about the human rights situation in some newly elected member states of the UNHRC, and stresses that it is important to defend the UNHRC’s independence 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 enables them to fulfil their function with full impartiality, and calls on all states to cooperate 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, and notably civil society, participate fully in the UPR process, and to avoid any restrictions in this regard;

7.  Calls for the EU and the Commission to follow up on the UPR recommendations in 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 Initiative for Change launched by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is 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 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 indicators of a democratic, tolerant and pluralist society;

10.  Reiterates that free, genuine elections held periodically on the basis of universal and equal suffrage are 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); reaffirms that the existence of freedom of expression and a vibrant environment conducive to an independent and pluralist civil society are prerequisites for promoting respect for human rights;

11.  Recalls that freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief is a fundamental human right, as recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guaranteed by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; expresses its concern at the fact that some countries still fail to abide by UN standards and use state repression, which may include physical punishment, prison terms, exorbitant fines and even the death penalty, in violation of freedom of religion or belief; is concerned about the increased persecution of religious or belief minorities, including Christian communities, as well as unlawful damage to their assembly sites; supports the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on violence committed ‘in the name of religion’; calls for the EU to implement its recommendations on interreligious dialogue initiatives;

12.  Welcomes the EU’s commitment to promoting freedom of religion or belief in international forums, including by supporting the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; fully supports the EU’s practice of taking the lead in the UNHRC and the UNGA on thematic resolutions on this topic; requests concrete action and measures towards the effective implementation and improvement of the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief; considers that action should be taken in both international and regional forums by maintaining an open, transparent and regular dialogue with religious associations and communities, as stated in Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

13.  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;

14.  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 of every individual to life and human dignity;

15.  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 it to uphold their commitments;

16.  Is of the view that contemporary digital technologies present advantages and challenges for the protection of the right to privacy, for the exercise of freedom of expression online across the world and for security, as contemporary digital technologies are often means for extremist and terrorist propaganda, and recruitment channels; 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;

Social and economic rights

17.  Recognises the UNHRC’s efforts to put all human rights on an equal footing, with the same emphasis, through the establishment of Special Procedure mandate holders in relation to economic, social and cultural rights;

18.  Expresses its profound concern about the rise of extreme poverty, which jeopardises 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; considers it important to address rising inequalities in order to fight poverty in general, and to promote social and economic rights by facilitating access to food, water, education, health care and housing;

19.  Is of the opinion that corruption, tax evasion, mismanagement of public goods and lack of accountability are threats to the equal enjoyment of human rights and undermine democratic processes such as the rule of law and the fair administration of justice; 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

20.  Supports the effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights both 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;

21.  Calls for the UN and the EU to address the question of land rights defenders, who are victims of reprisals, including in the form of threats, harassment, arbitrary arrest, assault and murder; calls for the UN mechanisms and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy to include land rights defenders in their human rights projects;

22.  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 relation to securing respect for human rights and access to justice for victims, who face both practical and legal challenges in accessing remedies at the national and international levels;

23.  Notes that an open-ended intergovernmental working group on the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, established by a UNHRC resolution of 26 June 2014, held its first session in July 2015; calls for the EU and its Member States to follow the debate on the abovementioned international instrument;


24.  Is alarmed by the most serious migration 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, who are risking their lives by taking dangerous journeys;

25.  Calls on all countries to adopt a human-rights-based approach to migration, 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;

26.  Stresses that the current unprecedented migration crisis is an international responsibility as regards both the causes and the means necessary to cope with it; calls on all UN member states to be involved in, and contribute to, responding to both the origins and effects of the migration crisis; 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; recalls that all migration cooperation and readmission agreements with non-EU states comply with international law;

27.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to increase their support for the fight against trafficking in human beings through external policies, with a particular focus on the protection of victims, especially minors; considers that the EU should strengthen its cooperation with third countries and other relevant actors in order to exchange good practices and contribute to the dismantling of international trafficking networks; welcomes the report of 3 August 2015 by the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children;

28.  Calls on the international community to take all necessary steps to prevent any further migratory pressures by enhancing and upgrading the appropriate agencies, such as the UNHCR and Frontex;

Climate change and human rights

29.  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; calls on all signatory states parties to fulfil their commitments;

30.  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;

Women’s rights

31.  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;

32.  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, as sexual violence has become an integral part of the objectives, ideology and source of revenue of these extremist groups, which presents the international community with a critical new challenge; calls on all governments and on the UN institutions to step up their commitment to combating these crimes and to restore women’s dignity so that they receive justice, reparation and support;

33.  Highlights the importance of guaranteeing women’s autonomy by addressing the underlying inequalities between women and men which render women and girls vulnerable during times of conflict, and calls on the UN and all its member states to take concrete steps to ensure women’s autonomy and 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

34.  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;

35.  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;


36.  Takes positive note of the counter-terrorism guidance document drafted by the European External Action Service and the Commission with the aim of ensuring respect for human rights in the planning and implementation of counter-terrorism assistance projects with third countries; recalls, in this context, that respect for fundamental rights and freedoms is the foundation of successful counter-terrorism policies, including the use of digital surveillance technologies; stresses the need to develop effective communication strategies – tailored to contemporary digital technologies – for countering terrorist and extremist propaganda and recruitment methods; supports international efforts to stop the human rights violations being perpetrated by ISIS/Daesh;


37.  Recommends that the EU step up its efforts to develop a more comprehensive approach to democratisation processes, of which free and fair elections are only one dimension, in order to contribute positively to the strengthening of democratic institutions; considers that the sharing of transition best practices in the framework of the enlargement and neighbourhood policies should be used to support and consolidate other democratisation processes worldwide;

EU human rights mainstreaming

38.  Calls for 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;

39.  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 and development cooperation, and into 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;

40.  Stresses the importance that the EU gives to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on peace and justice of Agenda 2030, which should be the priority for all external and internal action, especially when it comes to development cooperation financing;

Countries under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)


41.  Welcomes Georgia’s membership of the UNHRC and the recent UPR on Georgia; 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, and the protection of privacy and personal data and of internally displaced persons (IDPs);

42.  Urges the Georgian authorities to halt any ill-treatment, especially as regards pre-trial detention and improvement of officials serving under the previous government, which can be considered to constitute cases of selective justice; expresses deep concern about the instrumentalisation of the judicial system to fight political opponents; remains concerned about freedom of expression, media plurality and the lack of access by monitors to the occupied regions of Abkhazia and to 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;


43.  Commends Lebanon for the open border and reception policy it has had for years regarding refugees from Palestine, Iraq and Syria, stresses that the country has the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide, with one person in four being a refugee, and calls for the EU 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 to, stay in, and exit from Lebanon;

44.  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;


45.  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;

46.  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;


47.  Welcomes the holding of competitive elections on 8 November 2015, an important milestone in the country’s democratic transition; takes positive note of the commitment of Myanmar´s voters to the continued democratisation of the country; 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; supports Myanmar in its ongoing political transition to democracy, peace, stability and economic development;

48.  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’, include 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;


49.  Welcomes the entry into force of Nepal’s new constitution on 20 September 2015, which should lay the foundation 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;

50.  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;


51.  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;

52.  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;


53.  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;

54.  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 requires states parties to take all appropriate measures to ensure constitutional rule, particularly the constitutional transfer of power, and Article 23 of which states that any amendment of the constitution is an infringement of the principle of democratic change of government;


55.  Expresses its concerns about the dire human rights situation in the country as a result of the worsened economic, political and social climate in recent years; reiterates that freedom of expression, an independent judiciary and the rule of law are vital components of any democratic society; calls, in this connection, on the Venezuelan authorities to halt any form of restriction on freedom of the press and the right to information, to abide by international law in all legal proceedings and immediately to release all political prisoners; welcomes the result of the elections of 6 December 2015 and the formation of the new National Assembly; condemns any attempt to undermine the full enforcement of the election results, such as the suspension of some democratically elected members; calls on the elected members to engage in constructive dialogue with a view to tackling the economic, political, social and security challenges facing Venezuela;


56.  Welcomes the release of the remaining political prisoners in August 2015, and calls on the Belarusian Government to rehabilitate the released political prisoners and fully restore their civic and political rights; takes note of the shortcomings observed during the 2015 presidential election by independent international observers, and calls on Belarus to conduct the upcoming parliamentary elections in accordance with internationally recognised standards; urges Belarus, as the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to join a global moratorium on the execution of the death penalty as a first step towards its permanent abolition;


o  o

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.