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 Full text 
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 - Strasbourg Revised edition

EU priorities for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council (debate)

  Marietje Schaake (ALDE). - Mr President, the violations of human rights across the world at this moment are so vast and so numerous that it is difficult to do the suffering justice. From rape as a weapon of war in Africa to executions in Iran, mass censorship in China, human trafficking in the Sinai and killings by Islamic jihadists in Nigeria, the witch-hunt for LGBTIs – the list goes on and on. What does not help is that the universality of human rights is being challenged by growing numbers of people and governments who fear their own populations more than anything.

The UN Human Rights Council should be a neutral body which assesses human rights violations and condemns them wherever and whenever they occur. However, too many members do not have a clean slate – not even close to one. I am speaking of China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Bloc voting and uncontested elections among the worst culprits will not make condemning others any easier or more credible. That is why the EU must assume its responsibility with leadership and ambition.

A few of our priorities are to include civil society and re-focus the world’s attention on the unspeakable horrors taking place in Syria: three years of war, almost 70 years after we said ‘never again’. Where are we? A generation grows up in a pool of mud, in refugee camps without schools or prospects – and that is at best. Being dead, shot or starved in a street, raped against a wall or beaten in makeshift prisons – those are the alternatives. Both rebels and governments must understand that murdering their own will lead nowhere.

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