Council Conclusions on EU Priorities in UN Human Rights Fora in 2020

In its conclusions published today, the European Union undertakes to use all ‘available tools and fora to fulfil its commitments to human rights and promote human rights globally, including in the framework of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council and any other relevant fora, consistent with the EU Treaty and the UN Charter, as well as through public statements, diplomatic demarches, public diplomacy, human rights and political dialogues, the Universal Periodic Review, engagement with UN Special Procedures, and sanctions as appropriate.’ The EU also recalls that ‘all UN members, in particular members of the HRC, should uphold the highest human rights standards and fully cooperate with the HRC and its mechanisms’ which includes ‘full, unconditional and unhindered access to their territories, including disputed regions and conflict zones’.

In particular, the EU undertakes to denounce all human rights violations and abuses wherever they are committed, whether by state and non-state actors, calling on them to prevent them, end them, promote justice, accountability and the fight against impunity. The EU commits to support human rights defenders (HRDS) and civil society organisations as a priority, recognising the role played by those defending land rights, the environment, the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, LGBTI and women human rights defenders, and condemning all forms of attack against HRDs, journalists, whistle-blowers and human rights lawyers.

FIDH has pioneered the safeguarding of human rights defenders by creating the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders to take direct action in support of human rights defenders and bring their cases to the immediate attention of all key actors and institutions. The Observatory is a member of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism, established to protect defenders at high risk and facing the most difficult situations worldwide.

The EU also highlighted the link between human rights and the environment, recognising that ‘ climate change and environmental degradation are a threat to human rights ’ and will continue to ‘promote the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) both in its external action and internal policies (…) including a possible EU Action Plan (…) , including through initiatives on human rights due diligence, access to remedy for victims of corporate abuses, encouraging the adoption of National Action Plans and support to environmental and indigenous human rights defenders’.

FIDH works to ensure corporate accountability and improve victims’ access to justice for abuses caused by the activities of business enterprises. FIDH is actively engaged in the United Nation process for the elaboration of a legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights, a process that the EU undertakes to follow closely.

The EU will also focus on the consequences of new and emerging digital technologies on the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law, paying particular attention to mass surveillance technologies and calling on states to mitigate the risks of new technologies. The EU denounces the criminalisation of online criticism of religion, government or other public institutions as one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression.

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