The annual visit of the Subcommittee on Human Rights to the spring session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva coincided with the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was an important moment to reflect on all the invaluable work done in the field of human rights: but unfortunately, in various parts of the world, the safeguarding of human rights is in decline and we urgently need to address this situation.
The EU must be the leading global force in safeguarding human rights worldwide, in an era of increased instability and conflicts; particular attention was paid to access to education and the rights of children.. We stand ready to weave this message into a wide range of policy areas, in particular trade, business, development and migration.
I chaired the European Parliament’s delegation meeting with NGOs in Geneva. We were especially worried about the shrinking space for civil society: the NGOs look up to the EU as a leader in promoting and safeguarding human rights. Europe must speak with one voice, and we want to see our resolutions being effective and efficient on the ground as well as having a sustainable impact.
The UN and the EU have many similar and parallel interests with regards to human rights. The mission is evidence of the benefits of EU-UN collaboration, particularly by our parliamentarians. There is much more room for further collaboration.
In the course of a densely packed two-day visit, we met with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein; the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Mr Vojislav Šuc; the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms Kelly T. Clements; the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution and child pornography, Ms Maud De Boer-Buquicchio; the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict, Ms Virginia Gamba; the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Mr Joseph Cannataci; Ms Christine Evans, supporting the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous people; and the Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Ms Isabelle Durant.