The General Assembly this morning adopted 10 resolutions, nine of them without a vote, encouraging deeper cooperation between the United Nations and various regional organizations to address emerging challenges in sustainable development, fighting terrorism and economic integration.
One resolution, titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States”, was adopted by a recorded vote of 84 in favour to none against with five abstentions. By that text’s terms, the Assembly called upon specialized agencies to continue interacting with their counterparts from Arab organizations and institutions and to improve mechanisms for consultation. The Assembly also emphasized the importance of holding the 2017 meeting concerning cooperation on water resources’ preservation and management in the Arab region and called on specialized agencies to inform the Secretary-General by January 2018 of their progress in implementing the multilateral proposals adopted at the general cooperation meeting of the League and the United Nations.
The representative of Syria, who called for a recorded vote on the draft resolution and also abstained from it, cited “dangerous and non-democratic” measures undertaken by the League, including some of its members’ illegal policies aimed at controlling mechanisms of election in the region. The League should defend its people, rather than impose sanctions and exert political pressure, he said.
The European Union’s representative, welcomed the adoption of the resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe. But he regretted that language calling for an end to the use of the death penalty once again had not been taken on board, and the new inclusion of a call for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was “but a small improvement”. The Union hoped to build on the momentum created by the call for a global moratorium at the Sixth World Congress on Abolition of the Death Penalty in June, he said, urging all member States to support the draft resolution on the matter when it was put to the vote in the General Assembly next month.
The representative of Ukraine, speaking on the resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said he was disappointed over the Commonwealth’s failure to take steps to respond to the Russian Federation’s actions in Ukraine. “The [group] is still pretending that there is no Russian aggression, no illegal occupation of Crimea, no war crimes committed,” he said, adding that provisions of the text did not fully correspond to the realities on the ground as the Russian Federation had taken illegal, discriminatory steps on trade with Ukraine. While the Commonwealth positioned itself as an active fighter against terrorism and extremism, it had failed to respond to the actions of the Russian Federation – one of its most influential members – which controlled, financed and directed illegal armed groups in certain parts of Ukraine.
Jordan’s representative said the text on cooperation between the United Nations and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) confirmed the latter’s neutral and non-politicized role in combating organized and transnational crime, human trafficking and the illicit trade of small arms as well as the critical work of both organizations in combating terrorism and exchanging information. Jordan’s public security directory, in cooperation with INTERPOL, would launch a border security project in the next few days. Member States had a responsibility to enhance the complementarity between the two organizations to combat organized crime and terrorism, which impeded sustainable development.
The Assembly also heard from representatives of other regional intergovernmental organizations that participated in its work as observers, among them Rashid Alimov, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, who said that synergies of multifaceted cooperation between his organization and the United Nations would help solve the most urgent contemporary problems. “Consolidating and developing effective connections between the United Nations and regional organizations does not only facilitate development of the regional structures, but to a great extent strengthens the United Nations itself,” he added, prior to the Assembly’s adoption of a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and his organization.
The Assembly also adopted texts on cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Economic Cooperation Organization, Central European Initiative, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM.
In other business, the Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), reappointed Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan (Philippines) as a member of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2017 and Eileen Cronin (United States) as a member of the Joint Inspection Unit for a full five-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2017. The latter post was vacated following the resignation of George Bartsiotas (United States).
Also speaking today were the representatives of Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Iran, Estonia, Serbia, Rwanda, Brazil, Thailand, India, Singapore, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Cyprus.
Representatives of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, Council of Europe, INTERPOL, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, League of Arab States and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization also spoke.
The General Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 29 November to discuss the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions on Cooperation with Regional Organizations
The representative of Kyrgyzstan introduced a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Independent States” (document A/71/L.5), a group her country had chaired in 2016. Reviewing recent developments, she said the group had marked its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2016 and had taken up issues including the world drug problem and terrorism. Cooperation had continued between the group and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other United Nations entities. In addition, it had served as a point of contact for the Security Council’s committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), which dealt with the prevention of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation.
By the terms of that text, the Assembly would note the activities of the Commonwealth of Independent States to strengthen regional cooperation in such areas as trade and economic development, exchange of statistical data and economic information, culture, education, health care, sports, tourism, science and innovation, environmental protection and combating organized crime and terrorist acts, among others. Noting the importance of strengthening cooperation and coordination between the Commonwealth and the United Nations, it would invite the Secretary-General to hold regular consultations with the Chair of the Executive Committee and Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth and invite the specialized agencies and other United Nations organizations, funds and programmes, as well as international financial institutions, to develop their cooperation with the Commonwealth.
The representative of Belarus, introducing a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization” (document A/71/L.7) as its chair for 2016, described the organization as a multifaceted structure with broad potential for addressing contemporary global challenges. Among other things, the draft welcomed the organization’s work in addressing such issues as terrorism and transnational organized crime, human trafficking and the consequences of natural disasters, and encouraged further cooperation with the United Nations system. Describing one example of such cooperation, he pointed to the organization’s efforts to work with 25 other United Nations Member States in addressing illicit drug production in Afghanistan.
By the terms of that text, the Assembly would welcome efforts of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the United Nations to enhance coordination and cooperation and to develop concrete modalities for such cooperation. Inviting the United Nations Secretariat to continue regular consultations with the Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and further inviting the latter to continue its interaction in the interest of the consistent and comprehensive implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, it would encourage both organizations to continue to examine possible ways to further strengthen their interaction in peacekeeping.
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, introducing a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Central European Initiative” (document A/71/L.9) as the group’s chair for 2016, said the text reaffirmed the United Nations strong commitment to regional and sub-regional cooperation in addressing the world’s constantly evolving challenges. For its part, the Central European Initiative had always contributed to cross-border, regional and inter-regional cooperation, including by exploring joint trade and economic development efforts. Describing the group’s work in areas of common interest to its member States – such as agriculture, transport, energy and municipal infrastructure – he said it was also putting in place a new dynamic relationship with the European Union, the European Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other organizations.
By its terms, the Assembly would note the continuing efficiency of the Central European Initiative as a promoter of political dialogue, and express its appreciation for the Initiative’s efforts in cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on issues of gender equality, the fight against corruption and reconciliation in the region. Among other things, it would also invite the Secretary-General to intensify the exchange with the Initiative in order to continue the fruitful cooperation and facilitate coordination between the two secretariats, and encourage the United Nations specialized agencies and other organizations and programmes to strengthen their cooperation with the Initiative through common action aimed at achieving shared goals.
The representative of Kazakhstan introduced a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization” (document A/71/L.11) on behalf of that organization, recalling that it had celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 2016. Among other things, he said, the organization continued to play an influential role as a global partner in such areas as education, energy, combating terrorism and fighting transnational organized crime. It was also working to address the situation in Afghanistan.
By the terms of that text, the Assembly would acknowledge the important role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in securing peace and sustainable development, and note its activities in such areas as countering terrorism, separatism, extremism and drug trafficking, and promoting regional cooperation on issues including trade, economic development, energy, transportation, agriculture, the regulation of migration, science and technology and education. Along those lines, it would propose that the Secretary-General continue to hold regular consultations with the group, and that the specialized agencies, organizations, programmes and funds of the United Nations cooperate with it with a view towards jointly achieving their goals.
The representative of Azerbaijan introduced a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development — GUAM” (document A/71/L.12) as the group’s 2016 chair. The organization – comprising Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – had been established in 1997, and today it had a well-institutionalized structure devoted to the promotion of democracy and economic development among its member States. Among other things, he said, the resolution acknowledged the group’s efforts in developing partnerships with the United Nations system and emphasized the importance of strengthening dialogue, cooperation and coordination.
By the terms of that draft resolution, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of strengthening dialogue, cooperation and coordination between the United Nations system and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM, inviting the former’s specialized agencies, components, organizations, programmes and funds to cooperate and develop contacts with the latter. The Assembly would also ask the United Nations Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session a report on the implementation of the present resolution. It would also decide to include the matter in the provisional agenda of its seventy-third session under the item entitled “cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations”.
The representative of Algeria then introduced a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States” (document A/71/L.6) on behalf of that organization, noting that such efforts were based on Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. Welcoming a 2016 amendment to the cooperation agreement between the League and the United Nations – which aimed to enhance collaboration in such areas as conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, human rights and refugees – he said recent regional challenges required broader cooperation at all levels, and invited the Assembly to adopt the draft without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretariat of the League of Arab States to consider the possibility of forming a high-level working group to follow up on the implementation of the provisions of the protocol on amendment of the text of the cooperation agreement between the two organizations until a liaison office of the League of Arab States is opened in Cairo. It would also request the League and the United Nations Secretariat to continue their periodic consultations and call upon the United Nations specialized agencies, programmes and institutions to continue their interactions with their counterparts from Arab organizations and institutions. Emphasizing the importance of holding the thirteenth sectoral meeting between the two organizations and their specialized agencies in 2017 and the fourteenth general cooperation meeting in 2018, it would call upon the United Nations specialized agencies, organizations and programmes to inform the Secretary-General of progress made in cooperation with the League, no later than January 2018.
The representative of Iran, introducing a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization” (document A/71/L.14) on behalf of that group, said regional cooperation was now the prevailing global paradigm and had made strides in prosperity and development of many peoples. As one of the largest groupings in the world, spanning 8 million square kilometres and 10 countries, the Economic Cooperation Organization connected Europe with China and the Russian Federation with the Persian Gulf. Among other things, it served as a platform to translate global agendas into action at the regional level and provided the United Nations with the regional capacities it had developed over the last three decades. Going forward, the organization would soon be implementing its new vision plan, which focused on energy efficiency, human development, social welfare and other critical areas.
By the terms of that text, the Assembly would take note of the Baku Declaration and also the progress made on the trade facilitation programme of the Economic Cooperation Organization. In addition, it would note the basic development needs of landlocked countries, including the need to overcome the limitations arising from their geographical positions, the lack of access to open seas and seaport facilities and other challenges hindering their promotion of transit transport cooperation. It would note with satisfaction the approval of the railway network development plan of the Economic Cooperation Organization. Noting the vulnerability of the organization’s member States to natural disasters, it would urge the relevant United Nations institutions and agencies, including the Inter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and others, to consider extending their technical and financial support for the organization’s activities in natural disaster risk management.
The representative of Estonia then introduced a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe” (document A/71/L.15) on behalf of that group. Noting that the text had been sponsored by 52 countries, he said cooperation between the two organizations was well established and had evolved and deepened over time. This year’s resolution included important updates on work undertaken in areas of common interest such as the protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, the fight against discrimination and intolerance, advancing gender equality, the prevention of torture and the fight against terrorism and corruption. It also recognized the effective implementation of the outcomes of relevant international conferences and legal instruments.
By the terms of that draft resolution, the Assembly would encourage further cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe in the area of democracy and good governance, including through active participation in the Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy and engagement with youth representatives and civil society. It would also note the important role of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Council of Europe in supporting good local democratic governance, as well as the fruitful cooperation between them. The Assembly would reaffirm that, as the information society and the Internet develop freedom of expression as well as the right to privacy, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights must be protected and respected including as it relates to data collection.
The representative of Serbia introduced a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization” (document A/71/L.16/Rev.1) on behalf of that organization. Among other things, he said, the resolution sought to promote the interests of the Black Sea Cooperation Organization member States in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, bearing in mind the mutually beneficial and supportive role of regional and sub-regional organizations in helping to translate sustainable development policies into concrete action at the national level. Outlining some of the organization’s focus areas going forward, he pointed in particular to efforts in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, green technologies, infrastructure improvement and the improvement of its members’ export potential.
By the terms of that text, the Assembly would reiterate the conviction that multilateral economic cooperation contributed to enhancing peace, stability and security to the benefit of the wider Black Sea area. Among other things, the Assembly would appeal to greater cooperation between the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and international financial institutions and welcomed the contacts between the organization and the World Bank and other various global institutions. It would further note the cooperation between the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and the UNODC and within that framework would welcome the positive results of the ongoing joint project to strengthen the criminal justice response to trafficking in persons in the Black Sea region.
The representative of Rwanda, introducing a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)” (document A/71/L.17), recalled that her country had recently hosted a meeting of the heads of INTERPOL. The resolution before the Assembly was the “next rational step” in cooperation between the organization and the United Nations, she said, describing their longstanding relationship. Among other things, the text encouraged the strengthening of cooperation on countering terrorism – including preventing foreign fighter travel – as well as combating transnational organized crime, piracy, money laundering and the illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological materials.
By the terms of that draft resolution, the Assembly would call for the strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL, within their respective mandates, in a variety of areas. It would emphasize the importance of optimal coordination and cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL to create synergies within their respective mandates in the fight against transnational crime, in particular transnational organized crime. Additionally, it would encourage increased cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL to assist Member States, upon their request, in effectively using the following resources readily available to them.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, said implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would require concerted cooperation among all relevant stakeholders. Portuguese-speaking countries stood ready to promote political dialogue and exchange experiences to support the Agenda’s full implementation. Emphasizing the important role of regional and sub-regional groups in peacebuilding efforts, he said that Brazil was keen on increasing cooperation between the Community and the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission. Relevant regional and sub-regional actors must remain united behind the diplomatic efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and in supporting Guinea-Bissau in its endeavour towards stabilization. Approximately 280 million people spoke Portuguese in the world today, making it the fifth most spoken language. Hence, it was critical to promote Portuguese, including within the United Nations, as a means to disseminate cultural values openly and universally.
GERARDUS ANTONIUS WILHELMUS VAN DEN AKKER, European Union, welcomed the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe. But he regretted that language calling for an end to the use of the death penalty once again had not been taken on board, and the new inclusion of a call for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was “but a small improvement”. The Council of Europe and the European Union had campaigned against the use of the death penalty for some time and Union hoped to build on the momentum created by the call for a global moratorium by all participating members of the Sixth World Congress on Abolition of the Death Penalty in June. The Council of Europe and the European Union made a joint declaration in October urging all member States to support the draft resolution calling for a global moratorium when put to the vote in the General Assembly next month.
The Union also drew delegates’ attention to the platform to promote the protection and safety of journalists. That new instrument had been set up by the Council of Europe in 2015 and was well accepted as a useful tool by persons working for different media in Europe.
APICHAT SURIBOONYA, Police Major General of Thailand, focusing on cooperation between the United Nations and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), said the world needed intelligence-led policing and law enforcement, as it was no longer enough for intelligence to come only from security agencies. Police and law enforcement agencies alone could not effectively fight crime and terrorism without the participation of the private sector and people in the community. To draw people into the fight against crime, it was necessary to raise awareness, which the United Nations could do through international conferences and resolutions.
The challenge was how to make the Organization’s work ripple down to the people and be relevant for frontline officers in performing their duties, he said. It was time to tell frontline officers that the United Nations was relevant for them and to make discussions and exchanges of information available to them as well as the community. INTERPOL’s communication system or the I-24/7, which had already expanded to frontline officers in some countries, was key to raising awareness among people and connecting the United Nations to those officers. With databases which frontline officers could immediately access, international best practices and guidelines as well as valuable information could be made readily available to them.
KOTESWARA RAO MADIMI (India) said that the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, comprising 47 member States from Africa and Asia, was the only regional organization combining the interests of two major continents for focused and serious discussions on matters of international law. It had made important contributions in the fields of the law of the sea, the treatment of refugees and the extradition of fugitive offenders. India, as host country, had provided land and the building for the organization’s headquarters. At the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Permanent Observer of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization had organized discussions on topics of international law of common interest. Judges, jurists and scholars visiting New York were usually invited to take part in those activities.
NG BOON YIAN (Singapore) expressed strong support for the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL, noting that the threat of transnational crime had increased and the nexus between organized crime and terrorism was strengthening. Tackling such fast-evolving threats required much stronger cooperation among Member States and with partners such as INTERPOL, whose Global Complex for Innovation, focusing on digital security, was hosted by Singapore. Situated in the heart of Asia, the Global Complex had broadened partnerships between INTERPOL and relevant Asian stakeholders. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore also looked forward to the adoption of a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and that bloc. Both sides should focus on how to enhance complementarities between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ASEAN’s Vision 2025.
SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan) highlighted INTERPOL’s role in achieving cooperation among law enforcement agencies in different countries. Today’s resolution confirmed the neutral and non-politicized role of INTERPOL in combating organized and transnational crime, human trafficking and the illicit trade of small arms. It also pointed to the critical role between the United Nations and INTERPOL in combating terrorism and exchanging information. Jordan had asserted the importance of enhanced cooperation between INTERPOL, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and law enforcement agencies worldwide. The public security directory in Jordan in cooperation with INTERPOL would launch a border security project in the next few days. She encouraged countries that had not yet joined INTERPOL to do so as soon as possible and make full use of its resources. Member States meanwhile had a responsibility to enhance the complementarity between INTERPOL and the United Nations in order to combat organized crime and terrorism as they were impeding the achievement of sustainable development.
ANTONIO SÁNCHEZ GIL (Spain) emphasized the importance of INTERPOL’s vital role in combating organized crime and the need for Member States to utilize its many resources.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said the text would call for reinforced cooperation on various issues including organized crime, trafficking of persons, and the illicit trafficking of biological and chemical materials. It was a balanced text that harnessed the positions of Member States, he said, pledging his country’s cooperation to INTERPOL and expressing hope that the draft would be adopted by consensus.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said the text would lead to greater cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL. New emerging challenges such as the destruction of cultural heritage and cybercrimes affected all States. Strengthened cooperation would allow both the United Nations and INTERPOL to improve security and Member States to more effectively utilize necessary resources. Switzerland had also championed greater cooperation and viewed the text as a step forward toward that.
TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia), commenting on the draft resolution entitled “the cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe”, said the Council had developed sound and effective legal foundations, norms and standards for promoting objectives. The Council along with other regional organizations in Europe provided sound foundations for effective and advanced regional cooperation in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. He expressed regret that Armenia’s proposals were not reflected in the text. The choice venues for organising forums became a sensitive issue, especially when those venues were located in countries that consistently violated human rights and imprisoned journalists. The Baku Commitment to Youth Policies had been adopted without Armenia’s presence, simply because the presence of an Armenian in Baku represented a serious security risk. That was a result of a consistent “Armenophobia” promoted by the Government of Azerbaijan.
THORBJORN JAGLAND, Director of External Relations of the Council of Europe, said the United Nations was a major partner and an ideal platform for global outreach. Their relationship focused on cooperation with the Human Rights Council, in particular the latter’s universal periodic review. There was broad synergy between the development of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the quasi-jurisprudence of United Nations treaty bodies, as well as the guidance from special procedures mandate holders and the universal periodic review. Despite differences, they aimed at addressing challenges related to new technologies, terrorism, and the protection of human rights of groups at risk such as persons with disabilities, migrants and the Roma community.
He went on to emphasize that the Council of Europe had been the driving force in eliminating the death penalty in Europe for more than 800 million people. Drawing attention to Protocols 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, he said that in the last 19 years, no death sentence had been carried out in the territories of 47 member States. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights had defined the death penalty as an inhumane, degrading treatment in all circumstances. Still, there had been a spike in executions, he said, noting that the Council would remain proactive in efforts to end the use of the death penalty. It was essential to invest more in long-term education, especially of youth, and present the case for abolition as an integral part of a just, humane and democratic society. Furthermore, he underscored the need to turn cooperation with the European Union into concerted policy action for a global moratorium.
JURGEN STOCK, Secretary-General of INTERPOL, said given emerging challenges and complexities, tackling transnational crimes and enhancing cross-border cooperation had become critical. Serving as an independent and apolitical entity, INTERPOL connected various stakeholders with the aim of making the world a safer place and had developed policies and enhanced its capabilities based strictly on its neutral mandate. At the INTERPOL General Assembly session held two weeks ago, Member States voted to make the INTERPOL system all the more available to stakeholders. INTERPOL’s global programmes focused on combating transnational crime, including cybercrime. INTERPOL must and would remain completely apolitical. Given the complex landscape, however, it needed more support from governments to help policing efforts worldwide. Cooperation had deepened over the years, he said, emphasizing that today’s draft resolution moved the world even closer to supporting INTERPOL’s vision of a safer world.
MICHAEL B. CHRISTIDES, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, said it had helped enhance cooperation and understanding in a region of significant geostrategic importance. Unfortunately, the region’s challenges had sometimes cast a shadow on its efforts. Nevertheless, the organization had acted as a confidence-building mechanism and a window for dialogue and understanding. One priority was to increase the efficiency of the organization and make it more project and result-oriented. That way, it could benefit even more from increased collaboration with the United Nations system. Toward that end, he invited the specialized agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations to strengthen their cooperation with the organization and create new synergies based on existing agreements and memoranda. Overall, the organization had the knowledge and experience to help the United Nations effectively implement policies and programmes in a crucial part of the world.
RASHID ALIMOV, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said cooperation between that group and the United Nations had been gradually developing since 2004 and that the draft resolution before the Assembly opened new vistas of broad-spectrum cooperation. “Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge that the contemporary world is not becoming more predictable and safe,” he said. In that regard, resolution A/71/L.11 called for joint efforts in such areas as sustainable development and would become a sound foundation for broad interaction between the two organizations. “Consolidating and developing effective connections between the United Nations and regional organizations does not only facilitate development of the regional structures, but to a great extent strengthens the United Nations itself,” he said, expressing confidence that synergies of multifaceted cooperation between his organization and the United Nations would help to solve the most urgent contemporary problems.
ABDELAZIZ ENANI, League of Arab States, said the League and the United Nations had enhanced their close cooperation in recent years to respond to various emerging challenges. Cooperation would now focus on conflict resolution, sustainable development, crime prevention as well as issues of refugees and human rights. He highlighted various conferences that had focused on deepening cooperation between the League and the United Nations and said that both organizations had taken initiative to include Arab youth in debates on social issues. Various forums tapped into their ideas on how to combat climate change. There had been fruitful cooperation with specialized United Nations agencies to implement sustainable development, strengthen human rights, and combat climate change. “No stone must be left unturned” to find a solution to the refugee crisis, he said, stressing the need for a common strategy to address the plight of Palestinian children. Frustration reigned in the Middle East, where a great deal of turbulence remained. Terrorism in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya must be addressed and those various crises must be tackled with political solutions. All media used to disseminate hate speech must be outlawed.
ROY S. LEE, Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, said one of its main purposes was to promote and disseminate public international law. Topics included the law of the sea, counter-terrorism, sustainable development, climate change and cyber-crime. The organization also had some regional arbitration centres. At United Nations Headquarters, the Permanent Observer for the organization hosted open and inclusive discussions, serving as a forum for the free exchange of views. Judges, jurists, scholars and practitioners were usually encouraged to participate. The organization stood ready to help build a sustainable legal regime on the law of the sea to advise national jurisdictions.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The representative of Georgia, speaking in explanation of position on draft resolution A/71/L.5, recalled the ongoing illegal occupation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and the Tshkinvali region/South Ossetia by the Russian Federation – a member of both the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organization – as well as its continuous militarization of those regions in breach of international law and the United Nations Charter. Through the annexation, that delegation was also misusing the mandate of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ peacekeeping mission in both Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. For that reason, Georgia could not endorse the resolution and dissociated itself from the text.
The representative of Republic of Moldova, also speaking in explanation of position on draft resolution A/71/L.5, said regional organizations played an important role in addressing international issues in a “common way”, especially between States that shared borders. As a supporter of regional cooperation, Moldova expected the complete and non-discriminatory implementation of the region’s 2011 free trade agreement, and called for the elimination of trade barriers between all participating States. In line with its reservations on the chairmanship of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Moldova did not recognize the international legal personality of that organization; the Assembly’s adoption of the draft resolution should not be interpreted as a deviation from that position.
The representative of Syria, explaining his country’s position on draft resolution A/71/L.6, pointed to “dangerous and non-democratic” measures undertaken by the League of Arab States, including some of its members’ illegal policies aimed at controlling mechanisms of election in the region. Indeed, the League did not respect its own goals with regard to sovereignty, non-interference and the independence of States. It should defend its people, rather than impose sanctions and exert political pressure, he said, calling for a recorded vote on the draft resolution.
The representative of Ukraine, explaining his delegation’s position on draft resolution A/71/L.5, expressed disappointment at the complete failure of the Commonwealth of Independent States to take measures to respond to aggression by the Russian Federation in Ukraine. “The [group] is still pretending that there is no Russian aggression, no illegal occupation of Crimea, no war crimes committed,” he said. The Commonwealth was a special international, interregional formation lacking definite status and whose military and political alliance – established on the basis of the 1992 Tashkent agreement on collective security – bound only some of its members.
Continuing, he said some provisions of the draft resolution did not fully correspond to the realities on the ground – in particular the description in operative paragraph 1 of “activities of the Commonwealth of Independent States to strengthen regional cooperation in such areas as trade and economic development” – as the Russian Federation had undertaken illegal and discriminatory steps on trade with Ukraine. In addition, he expressed disappointment that while the Commonwealth positioned itself as an active fighter against terrorism and extremism, it had failed to respond to the actions of one of its most influential members – the Russian Federation – which controlled, financed and directed the actions of illegal armed groups in certain parts of Ukraine.
The representative of Cyprus, speaking in explanation of position on draft resolution A/71/L.15 and associating herself with the European Union, noted that her country would be assuming the chairmanship of the Council of Europe on Tuesday. Emphasizing that the world was currently facing such challenges as wars, underdevelopment, migratory flows and the rise of xenophobia and discrimination, she said Cyprus’ chairmanship would focus on ensuring rights and freedoms for all people. Other priority areas would include the protection of cultural goods and heritage, the role of youth, the promotion of equal rights and the improvement of the quality of life of persons with disabilities and the promotion of human rights in the biomedical fields.
Moving to take action on the draft resolutions before it, the Assembly adopted the following without a vote: “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Independent States” (document A/71/L.5); “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization” (document A/71/L.7); “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Central European Initiative” (document A/71/L.9); “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization” (document A/71/L.11); “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM” (document A/71/L.12); “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization” (document A/71/L.14); “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe” (document A/71/L.15); “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization” (document A/71/L.16/Rev.1); and “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Criminal Police Organization” (document A/71/L.17).
By a recorded vote of 84 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Central African Republic, Congo, Germany, Indonesia, Syria), it also adopted the draft on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States (document A/71/L.6).
The representative of Armenia expressed concern that one of the main co-sponsors used the resolution titled “Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM” to present its distorted view of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. That was counterproductive.
The representative of Cyprus said she was disassociating herself from the resolution on the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization, because the text took a position on her country that went against Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The Security Council called for all States to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus, she reiterated.
Right of Reply
The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s statement illustrated its willingness to deflect the international community’s attention away from its continued aggression toward Azerbaijan. Unlike Armenia’s policy of total ethnic cleansing, Azerbaijan had preserved its multi-ethnic culture. He said that while Armenia mentioned not participating in the Baku conference for security reasons, many Armenians had recently visited Azerbaijan for various events. Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia had a spirit of intolerance and discrimination. The delegate of Armenia criticized others for actions its country continued to commit. He pointed to resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly and expressed hope that Armenia would not make irrelevant and out-of-context statements.
The representative of Armenia said that the countries that violated human rights tended to be part of the problem rather than the solution. Azerbaijan’s appalling record was concerning but it would rather blame the other side. Azerbaijan had been led by the same family for almost 50 years while Armenia had conducted democratic elections.
The representative of Azerbaijan called Armenia’s remarks distorted and said that he went as far as lecturing principles and values his country consistently disregarded and violated. Rather than wasting time the Government must reconsider its stance on Nagorno-Karabakh, which was becoming increasingly difficult for Azerbaijan to defend.
The representative of Armenia said that to settle the conflict, Azerbaijan should implement as soon as possible the agreements reached in Vienna and Saint Petersburg. Failure to do so would continue to impede peace efforts.
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(1), in particular Annex IV thereto,
– having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas the EU and its Member States continue to struggle with the deepest economic and social crisis since its foundation; whereas the neoliberal EU policies and the austerity-oriented policies imposed by the EU within the economic governance framework have widened, as expected, the socio-economic inequalities within and between Member States, with the increase of the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion (which in 2015 accounted for 24.4 % in EU-28); whereas labour market deregulation and regressive tax systems have contributed to the transfer of yield from the workers to the large capitalists and exacerbated the income and wealth gap;
B. whereas stagnating economies, high unemployment, declining social and labour rights, and rising socio-economic inequalities demand a fundamental policy shift away from the policies currently pursued by the EU towards policies that strengthen the Member States’ efforts to create sustainable economic growth and full employment, and to combat poverty, social exclusion and income inequalities, namely through redistributive policies and job-creating public investment;
C. whereas the debt burden that has resulted from the EMU is massively disproportionate, with some countries profiting while others have been forced into serious depression; whereas this debt has been the pretext for the imposition of unacceptable austerity programmes, which has led to an increase of the debt, through the conversion of private to public debt, compounded by the budgetary consequences of the subsequent recession, whilst pursuing the objectives of imposing structural reforms and deconstructing State social functions and workers’ rights; whereas these policies have resulted in rising unemployment, poverty, deep wage cuts, a higher pension age and lower public spending in areas such as education, culture and health; whereas these policies have imposed the execution of radical privatisation programmes and will continue to compress demand;
D. whereas the European Commission’s response to the economic, social and democratic crisis, such as the economic governance framework, has permanently removed policy choices from sovereign and democratically elected governments and national parliaments, preventing democratic control by the peoples of Europe and establishing austerity as permanent; whereas there is growing opposition among people against this capitalist European integration process, which reflects the urgent need to have an integration process that serves social and democratic progress, fair and peaceful solution of international challenges and cultural dialog worldwide, embarking on a path of cooperation amongst countries with equal rights;
E. whereas the tax systems are designed to favour the large capital rather than the working class; whereas austerity and harsh fiscal discipline measures, alongside heavy losses of government revenue resulting from tax evasion and avoidance, put further pressure on Member States’ budgets and undermine the interests of the peoples and workers; whereas tax policy remains a Member State competence; whereas secret tax agreements, global tax avoidance and evasion, and the transfer of profits to tax havens are still allowed or not duly dealt with in the legal framework;
F. whereas the budgetary choices made by the EU do not reflect the priorities needed to stimulate sustainable, qualitative and socially balanced growth, nor do they take account of the need for solidarity and economic and social cohesion between Member States;
G. whereas the EU is facing today the largest refugee humanitarian crisis since World War II; whereas the EU and certain Member States have direct responsibilities in the root causes of this exodus, that makes people flee their homes as a consequence of wars, climate change, inequalities and the interference and aggression policy imposed in the Middle East and Northern Africa, namely through military interventions and the fuelling of regional conflicts, in full coordination with the geopolitical strategic interests of the USA and NATO; whereas the way this humanitarian crisis is being dealt with is clear evidence of the class nature of this EU failing to comply with its obligations, including under international law;
H. whereas the EU has several policies that prepare the ground for xenophobia and racism, and the development of radical xenophobic and racist parties and movements, as they enforce discrimination towards the treatment of workers, refugees and migrants, based on nationality;
I. whereas the proposal for a new settlement for the United Kingdom within the EU, which would have been enforced had the British referendum outcome been otherwise, would bolster the deregulation and competitiveness agenda, and undermine freedom of movement and the principle of non-discrimination; whereas this was a demonstration of the double-standard approach to Member states within the EU; whereas the unilateral interests of the larger Member States should not override the interests of the smallest ones;
J. whereas the right of any Member State to withdraw from the EU should be acknowledged;
K. whereas the result of the British referendum demonstrates that another Europe is necessary and must be built with the agreement of the people, who expect concrete decisions on social fields such as employment, transparency and welfare, rejecting austerity measures;
L. whereas all decisions regarding the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, after the UK’s exit, must be the result of a democratic process and involve both the European Parliament and national parliaments; whereas all Member States have the right and duty to develop economic, political and cultural relations of their own choice with the United Kingdom ,based on the principles of mutual interests, friendship between peoples and cooperation between sovereign states;
M. whereas the referendum in the United Kingdom demonstrated the need to advance the process of Irish reunification through a border poll, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement; whereas the existence of an international border between the north and south would have serious negative consequences for Ireland; whereas the EU should continue proactively to support the peace process in Ireland and to provide for its continuation in any negotiations on British withdrawal;
N. whereas there is a democratic deficit that results from the policies and options of the EU that constitutes an enormous problem, and many citizens feel that they are not represented by the institutions; whereas this may only be addressed through transparency, openness and the defence of the values of democracy, including stronger participation by citizens, peace, tolerance, progress, solidarity and cooperation among peoples;
O. whereas the sovereign will of the peoples to decide their own development path in each Member States should be defended as an absolute right;
P. whereas the climate crisis continues to pose a threat to the stability, health and livelihood of societies all over the world, as well as to animal welfare and biodiversity; whereas the commitments in the COP21, although apparently ambitious, should be carefully enhanced in the right direction;
Macroeconomic and austerity policies
1. Urges the European Commission to present a Work Programme that addresses the major challenges that the peoples and Member States are facing today, such as stagnating economies, deflation, rising socio-economic inequalities and poverty, imbalanced investment and economic growth, high unemployment and increasing labour precariousness, declining social and labour rights, high debt burden, an increased need for international protection as well as the climate crisis; is deeply concerned at the intention pursued by the European Commission to continue the policies of fiscal consolidation, privatisations, structural reform and deregulation, against the interest of the peoples; asserts that the social, economic, climate and political challenges can only be overcome by a profound change towards progressive policies that bring people and the environment to the core of the development strategies, instead of the interests of the financial markets and the large capitalists;
2. Deeply deplores the continued imposition by the EU institutions of austerity measures on Member States and, in particular, the EU institutions’ blackmail towards some countries that express their own choices for growth and development; insists that the European institutions should respect the national sovereignty of each Member State and the decision made by the peoples to move towards development, growth and social cohesion, and that no country should be penalised for boosting its economy, either through public investment plans or through redistributive fiscal and progressive tax policies;
3. Calls for an immediate end to the so called memoranda of understanding and the counter-productive and socially devastating austerity and neoliberal policies they have imposed; takes the view that these memoranda have imposed unfair tax policies which violate the principle of proportional equality and progressive taxation; calls for the creation of an emergency plan to support the economy of those countries that were under the Troika’s intervention;
4. Regrets the insufficient response in the EU to the tax scandals; defends the obligation to make both tax rulings and country-by-country reporting public in order to ensure transparency and scrutiny; defends the end to off-shores and other tax havens, the defence of cooperation for the lifting of banking secrecy for tax purposes, the promotion of cooperation measures in preventing and combating money laundering and tax fraud, and the punishing of speculative transactions through tax policy measures and ensuring that taxes are paid where the value is created; calls for an international summit under the United Nations’ framework with a view to defining a road map and a Joint Action Plan to end tax havens and tax dumping;
5. Calls for the immediate stop to the process of establishing a Capital Markets Union; reiterates the need to separate investment banking from retail banking and to reinforce the public control of the financial sector; stresses that deregulation of the financial markets, the devastating process of privatisation experienced in the financial sector, the consequent phenomenon of merges and acquisitions that led to a great increase in the industry concentration and created the so-called too big to fail banks, as well as the financialisation of the economy, have been responsible for the turmoil of countries’ economies; rejects the Banking Union;
6. Calls for the European Commission to ensure the effective and timely implementation of investments, which give priority to countries under financial assistance, especially targeting regions in economic crisis and recession, with high levels of unemployment and poverty, boosting growth and jobs, enforcing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and ensuring sound economic development and social cohesion;
Economic governance and the EMU
7. Takes the view that the Fiscal Stability Treaty, the Fiscal Compact and the European Semester should be revoked, as they constitute an undemocratic and economic straightjacket that has an adverse effect on investment, growth and job creation; stresses the urgent need for Member States to regain the ability to decide on the economic policies that best address their respective needs;
8. Stresses the fact that the level of public and external debt in the EU peripheral countries is among the largest in the world – a consequence of the asymmetric nature of the integration process; considers it imperative to reduce the debt burden, through debt renegotiation (of amounts, maturity and interest rates) and the annulment of its speculative and illegitimate component, bringing it to sustainable levels, as a matter of urgency and of elementary justice; calls for an intergovernmental conference to revoke the Fiscal Stability Treaty;
9. Urges the Commission to allow – until the definitive repeal of the Fiscal Stability Treaty – fiscal space for manoeuvre in order to provide further liquidity for investment, for development in education, culture and health, and for a holistic social development, which will facilitate quality and safe employment, and strengthen the welfare state;
10. Urges the creation of an emergency plan to support the economy of those countries that have suffered from the Troika’s intervention;
11. Calls for the creation of a programme of support for those Member States which may wish to negotiate leaving the euro on the grounds that their membership has become unsustainable and unbearable; stresses that such a programme should foresee adequate compensation for the social and economic damage caused;
12. Strongly rejects, therefore, the Five Presidents’ report, as it offers no way out of the prevailing austerity narrative, but proposes instead that existing policies be deepened, including through increased competitiveness and structural convergence, imposing strict fiscal policies and austerity;
Labour and social rights
13. Strongly criticises austerity policies – so-called competitiveness policies, liberalisation and labour market deregulation – which have undermined basic social and labour rights in the Member States; defends the right to collective bargaining, with the direct involvement of the workers’ organisations, as a key instrument to safeguard and enhance rights to combat discrimination, social-dumping, precarious and fraudulent employment, working-time deregulation, atypical work, the widening of the low-wage sector, competition on lower wages, the phenomena of the working poor, social exclusion, poor pensioners and harassment and violence at the workplace, and to protect workers from self-exploitation in new forms of work, including digital work and crowd work, protecting the right to log off;
14. Rejects and deplores criticism by the European Commission of policies that seek the valuation of wages and the redistribution of income and wealth in favour of workers; stresses the need for effective measures to be introduced to combat wage discrimination within a wage-policy framework that considers the concept of equal pay for equal work; stresses the need to implement development policies that promote growth and the creation of jobs, dealing with high unemployment rates, which affect women and youth the most;
15. Urges the European Commission to stop recommending reorganisation and cuts in Member States’ government departments, and to stop supporting and promoting flexisecurity in employment and privatisation of public services, as those approaches have unquestionably served to weaken the social rights of workers and to improve the wealth transfer towards large capitalists;
16. Reminds the European Commission of its commitment to accession to the renewed European Social Charter, and calls on the Commission to put forward without delay a proposal for accession to the Charter; further, strongly urges the Commission to present a proposal for a Social Protocol, which puts social and collective interests above the economic freedoms;
17. Expresses concern that the Posting of Workers Directive, in its current form, does not address the main problems of workers’ mobility within the EU; urges the European Commission, in close cooperation with the Members States, to proceed with the review of this Directive, to fight against social dumping in all its expressions and to ensure access for posted workers to the same social benefits as the workers in the country of reception, including the guarantee of the principle of equal pay for equal work at the same place; states that under no situation should a worker face regressive wages or social rights; further calls for the upcoming revision of Regulation 883/2004 to strengthen the coordination of Member States’ social security systems; underlines the need to strengthen the enforcement of labour and social legislation to all sectors;
18. Calls for a EU black list of companies, including letter box companies, responsible for repeated breaches of EU and Member States’ labour and social legislation, and for these companies to be banned from public contracts and subsidies, including EU-funding, for a certain period;
19. Calls on the European Commission , in the context of the discussion and recommendations on the National Insolvency frameworks, to ensure the participation and information of workers and workers organisations, through all the stages in the procedure, and to prevent the tactical use of insolvency procedures in order to lower the employment conditions of workers or facilitate massive lay-offs; calls, in this context, on the European Commission to facilitate the take-over of companies facing insolvency by their workers, in order to maintain their economic activity and minimise job losses;
20. Underlines the need for an integrated anti-poverty strategy, which focuses, inter alia, on reducing child poverty and social exclusion; calls on the evaluation and creation of Minimum Income Schemes, at Member State level, which guarantees a percentage of the average income in the respective Member States, with the minimum reference of at least 60 %, as an important step towards eradicating poverty;
21. Stresses the need to defend and develop, in the Member States, the social functions of the state and the offer of public services, which should include, inter alia, access to justice and to universal, free and quality public education and health systems, as well as care services for children and for sick and elderly people, as well as a high level of social protection in general;
22. Takes the view that all EU actions and programmes on culture and education should have a systematic, socially inclusive dimension, promote policies of public quality education and contribute to full access to culture and recreation for all; calls, therefore, on the European Commission and the Member States to exclude all education- and culture-related public expenditure from the calculation of public deficit within the Growth and Stability Pact;
23. Regrets that EU mobility programmes have not fully fulfilled their purpose and that they have imposed an unacceptable discrimination of access; asks therefore the European Commission to strengthen access to all mobility programmes by all who wish to apply, in particular disadvantaged groups, and to improve information and access to mobility programmes in vocational education and training schemes; deplores the recent trend undertaken in certain programmes to replace grant systems with loan guarantee schemes such as Erasmus+ and Creative Europe; calls, therefore, for decent grant systems that allow the entire period outside the country of origin to be covered in order to ensure universal access to these mobility programmes;
24. Stresses that online services, e-commerce, the copyright domain (regarding not only the authors, but also the artists, performers and producers), the protection, management and storage of data, and network neutrality require a joint, community and international approach that has as guiding principle that the defence of public interests shall always take precedence over the logic of business and profit; emphasises that the internet belongs to the public domain and that ensuring the principle of net neutrality is of utmost importance;
Women’s rights and gender equality
25. Deeply regrets that the European Commission has failed to present a new strategy on gender equality between women and men for the period 2015-2020, and calls for such a strategy to be presented;
26. Calls on the European Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to put forward a proposal for a comprehensive EU strategy on violence against women that addresses all the different forms of violence; welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for EU accession to the Istanbul Convention and the initiative to launch an awareness-raising campaign in 2017 on combatting violence against women;
27. Condemns the withdrawal of the Maternity Leave Directive; calls on the European Commission to put forward a new proposal which respects Parliament’s position in favour of increasing the current minimum-guaranteed period of maternity leave on full pay from 14 to 20 weeks, and of a mandatory right to paid paternity leave; believes that specific measures need to be taken in all Member States to improve the work-life balance for women and men, and that steps are needed to increase the length of parental leave, paid at 100 %, moving towards a more equal system of parental leave;
28. Calls also on the European Commission to guarantee and include universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in all related policy areas in the EU and beyond;
Democracy, human rights and liberties
29. Strongly condemns the EU-Turkey deal as well as all other proposals aimed at externalising EU borders in order to keep people in need of protection outside the EU, in absolute disrespect of the commitments of the EU and its Members States to international law, including the principle of non-refoulement; condemns the strong focus on the prevention and repression of irregular migration, including through detention, without any regard to the growing number of asylum seekers fleeing from wars, persecution, hunger and climate disasters; condemns the multiplication of repressive proposals and military responses made by the European Commission in 2015 and 2016 to this humanitarian crises, such as EUNAVFOR MED, the NATO operation in the Aegean, the proposal of strengthening the powers of Frontex through the setting up of a European border guard, the creation of refugee detention centres, the acceleration of returns, including of asylum-seekers, and the pressure of the European Commission to declare Turkey (a country with a poor human rights record) as a safe third country for all asylum seekers;
30. Calls on the European Commission to redirect funds allocated to increased border control and the strengthening of Fortress Europe towards welcoming refugees and migrants through, in particular, resettlement and relocation programmes, proactive search and rescue activities, open and dignified reception centres and social inclusion of both refugees and migrants; calls on the European Commission to develop proposals for safe and legal ways to access the EU for all women, men and children in need of protection, as well as for migrant workers, including an immediate, ambitious and binding resettlement programme, and to support European Parliament’s proposal for humanitarian visas in the revision of the visa code, so that people will no longer be forced to risk their lives in the Mediterranean or in the deserts on their way to Europe;
31. Welcomes the proposals of the European Commission to establish provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece; deplores the inaction of Member States to live up to their commitments in this regard;
32. Calls for the implementation of the right to family life as enshrined in the ECHR, whether from a third country or within the EU, and the urgent need for speeding up of relocation, including fast tracking of vulnerable applicants; recalls that the country of allocation should be based on the family, language and cultural ties of the refugees; stresses the need to advance social inclusion and labour market integration of refugees and migrants, recognising and taking into account, in their favour, of their skills and qualifications, and to ensure protection against exploitation and discrimination;
33. Deplores the failure of the Commission to propose an alternative to the Dublin regulation based on a sharing of responsibility; raises key concerns regarding the obligation for all Member States to examine whether a person’s application could be declared inadmissible based on the concepts of safe third country or first country of asylum;
34. Calls for the immediate adoption of the horizontal anti-discrimination directive in order to advance the fight against discrimination, including attacks on minorities, migrants and asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups; takes the view that the increase in racist and xenophobic sentiments and organisations is linked to the ascent of the far right and of fascist phenomena in Europe, which cannot be seen in isolation of the policies that have been enforced in the EU and Member States in the last decades;
35. Deplores the increasing number of acts, and instances of hate speech, directed against ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTI persons, asylum seekers and the homeless;
36. Asks the Commission to evaluate the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) and the Council recommendation on measures of effective integration of the Roma in the Member States, and to propose additional measures, if necessary, for the effective inclusion of the Roma;
37. Expresses its deep concern with the EU’s one-sided and repressive European Agenda on Security, which is very one-dimensionally focussed on repressive politics and on extending EU law enforcement agencies; criticises the increasing securitisation of policies, including the collection of personal data and the profiling of citizens, taking advantage of people’s legitimately inflated fears, using the fight against terrorism to attack citizens’ rights and liberties, and increase state surveillance; points out that despite more than 80 binding legal instruments concluded in the past 12 years in the field of anti-terrorism, the recent violent attacks poignantly showed the failure of the blindly repressive focus of the EU institutions and the Member States governments; condemns repressive legislation that has not only infringed massively on the human rights of all EU citizens and residents, but has also helped actively to undermine and undercut existing prevention policies like youth work, socio-economic cohesion policies and other preventive instruments aiming at supporting people at risk of social exclusion;
38. Calls on the Commission to initiate serious efforts to protect citizens from increasing state surveillance; expresses, in this context, its deep concern over the broad powers of Europol’s new Internal Referral Unit (IRU) to monitor and police the internet without any judicial intervention; points out that the new Europol Regulation did not provide an explicit legal basis for the IRU;
39. Finds the revision of the Counter-Terrorism Directive extremely far-reaching in criminalising certain potential preparatory acts without there having to be an explicit aim to wilfully commit a terrorist offence; underlines the fact that this contravenes a long-established principle of criminal law according to which wilful intent is a key element of any criminal definition;
40. Calls for the ePrivacy Directive to be updated so that it can be brought in line with the recently adopted Data Protection Regulation;
41. Calls on the Commission to take full account of the ruling of the ECJ in Joined Cases C 293/12 and C 594/12 of 8 April 2014; urges the Commission, in this context, to refrain from proposing any further measures based on blanket data retention;
42. Calls on the Commission to come up with an action plan for Member States to enhance detention conditions, especially given the widespread use of pre-trial detention, including in European Arrest Warrant (EAW) cases; calls on the Commission to take full account of European Court of Human Rights case law on prison conditions;
43. Is deeply disappointed with the inaction of the Commission with regard to the legislative own-initiative report on the revision of the EAW; calls on the Commission to come up with a new proposal, taking into account Parliament’s report on this matter, especially the issue of proportionality tests;
44. Regrets the fact that the Commission has not included in its new initiatives a renewed, up-to-date proposal for public access to documents, mirroring the first reading agreement reached by the Parliament in 2011;
45. Urges the Commission to respond to the requests from Parliament in its resolutions on alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA, in particular after the report of the US Senate on torture committed by the CIA;
46. States the profoundly anti-democratic nature of this EU, as can be witnessed by how the European institutions deal with the outcomes of the citizens participation and workers’ struggle; urges, therefore, the European Commission to take citizens’ participation seriously in its different democratic expressions, to respect any further referendums on EU issues, and calls for the people’s inalienable right to debate and express their will to be upheld; rejects, in this connection, the argument of inevitability;
47. Reminds the Commission of its commitment to present a proposal for an inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory transparency register for all EU institutions; reaffirms the need to enhance representative and participatory democracy;
48. Calls on the European Commission to present a proposal for a revision of the European Citizen’s Initiative based on the conclusions in Parliament’s implementation report;
49. Believes there is a need to improve the quality of EU law-making; insists, however, that the Better Regulation agenda and REFIT should not serve as a pretext for deregulation that weakens social protection, consumer protection, environmental standards, animal welfare standards and social dialogue; insists, therefore, that all impact assessments and decisions from the Regulatory Scrutiny Board be made public;
50. Urges instead the Commission to ensure that all future legislation is subject to a social and fundamental rights impact assessment, and to include sunset clauses to ensure that EU laws are regularly reviewed;
Internal market and international trade
51. Takes the view that the single market, in its multiple sectorial approaches, has accentuated/facilitated the dismantling of sovereign economic regulation instruments, economic domination, divergence and uneven development, and has promoted tax avoidance and tax evasion and the transfer of profits to tax havens, privatisation, deregulation of commercial relations and the concentration of capital; through the single market and in name of competitiveness, the EU has sponsored/backed and promoted attacks on workers’ rights, which has led to social inequalities, labour deregulation, wage devaluation and increasingly precarious employment, while fairer, more redistributive tax policies have been wrecked or obstructed; notes that, contrary to what is systematically stated, the single market has resulted in increased costs for the consumers and in degradation of the services provided;
52. Deplores the Commission’s delay in notifying Parliament and the Council of the correcting acts to the Union Customs Code (UCC) delegated and transitional delegated acts; finds it unacceptable that these late notifications made it difficult for Parliament to use its scrutiny power; urges, therefore, the Commission to ensure better cooperation of its services with Parliament and an early information on the UCC finalisation and implementation;
53. Regrets that the European Commission is further weakening the protection of whistleblowers, journalists, consumers and workers through the Trade Secrets Directive; urges the European Commission and the Member States to ensure that whistleblowers are legally and materially protected when they can reasonably be assumed to be protecting public interests; notes, however, that protection standards remains uneven across the EU and do not offer sufficient protection, as recent high-profile cases show; calls on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal for minimum protection of whistleblowers;
54. Stresses that each country must have the right to define its commercial policies and to enter into those trade agreements that are most compliant with their interests and their economic characteristics and needs, taking into account their respective levels of complementarity with third countries;
55. Takes the view that the British referendum outcome adds to the reasons that justify that the ratification of any trade agreements of the EU with third parties with which negotiations are underway should provisionally be suspended; opposes the trade-policy approach of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation pushed by the European Commission with many partners worldwide, as well as the dogmatic free-trade logic that determines this trade policy view, and rejects, in particular, mega-regionals such as TTIP, CETA and TiSA, and, in a different way, the EPAs; deplores the general trade orientation of the EU, which compromises the sovereignty of the Member States and serves the geopolitical interests of the richest countries, and of multinational corporations, to control and exploit third-country assets, increasing intra- and inter-regional asymmetries, and perpetuating the dependencies of the less developed countries (within and outside the EU); states that these agreements contribute to the destruction and deregulation of work, an increase in poverty, enhanced speculation (especially on food) and the destruction of public services, and poses a threat to animal health and welfare, sustainable agriculture and the environment, and cultural diversity; calls for regulated, mutually complementary-based international trade;
56. Calls for regulated, mutually complementary-based international trade; opposes, in particular, the inclusion of any ISDS clause in trade agreements or in the EU framework, whether in the traditional form or in the ICS form, as it considers that there is no reason to grant investors special jurisdictions that oblige states to pay huge amounts of money, and that reduce their policy space; insists that all negotiating documents must be made public, and that all national parliaments must be consulted, before the adoption of those such deals, which very much affect the daily life of the peoples;
Regional development, production and strategic sectors
57. Rejects the European Commission’s approach of subordinating cohesion policy to EU economic governance; emphasises that regional policy is an important tool for promoting economic and social cohesion, with the principal objectives of reducing disparities between regions, in particular the poorer and outermost regions, promoting real convergence, and encouraging growth and employment; insists that cohesion policy should not be used as an instrument of financial punishment if a region or Member State rejects policies of deregulation and privatisation;
58. Recommends the implementation of urgent measures regarding the productive sectors that are vital to each economy, and that therefore play an essential role in the potential development of each country; calls for the promotion of public projects, for support for MSMEs, cooperatives and local government, and for Community funds to be reinforced and oriented in that direction;
59. Urges the Commission to give priority to those Member States most affected by the economic crisis and, in particular, to target regions in recession with high levels of unemployment and poverty;
60. Believes that existing EU funding, and current EU financial resources for cohesion policy, are insufficient to meet the needs of real convergence, and to overcome regional disparities, high levels of unemployment, income inequalities and poverty in the Member States; points out the need for the EU budget to be strengthened in the area of cohesion policy; stresses the importance of ensuring that territorial management and planning remains the responsibility of individual Member States; notes that avoiding a backlog of payments in the future is crucial to ensuring successful implementation of cohesion policies;
61. Notes the poor investment proposed in the EU budget on R&D; calls on the European Commission not to concentrate the allocation of research financing on a few universities, research centres and corporate companies;
62. Reaffirms that water is a universal right and should be guaranteed to every human being, and should not be subject to privatisation;
63. Calls for a decentralised Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that promotes the modernisation and sustainable development of the fisheries sector, ensuring its socio-economic viability, the sustainability of resources, the maintenance and creation of jobs and the improvement of living conditions of fisheries workers; calls for measures to ensure national sovereignty over the Exclusive Economic Zones of Member States and their fisheries resources;
64. Calls for biodiversity to be safeguarded in marine environments, ensuring favourable conditions for fish populations to replenish through the implementation of adequate sustainable management practices; reaffirms the need for the CFP to recognise the specific characteristics of small-scale and coastal fishing, and the suitability of existing instruments to the sector’s needs;
65. Takes the view that 30 years of Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) have taken a severe toll on the agricultural sector in the Member States, and that it has contributed to the crisis in the agriculture sector; calls for a renewed focus on one of funding principles of CAP (Article 39, point 2), ‘to ensure a fair standard of living for farmers’, in order to combat the increased concentration of production and the increased level of intensive farming, the reduction of small-scale farmers and farmers’ organisations, as well as the increase in regional asymmetries and foreign external dependence on goods, which favours the biggest European economies; regrets that this phenomenon is putting agricultural and rural patrimonies of worldwide importance at risk, while, at the same time, large agro-business companies are expanding their margins and imposing their model for a global food system that has destructive environmental effects; underlines the fact that, instead of big business, farmers must be at the centre of any agricultural and food policy, in order that sustainability, growth and jobs may truly be boosted in all regions;
66. Regrets that present policies are leading to the decimation of traditional family farms across the EU and, subsequently, to the decline of social and economic activity in rural areas;
67. Strongly opposes land grabbing, and the market domination and unfair price setting by large agro-food companies, which exploit farmers and enforce overproduction at the expense of food quality, the welfare of humans and animals, and the environment;
68. Calls on the European Commission to forbid all forms of seed patenting, in order to protect farmers against the pressure and power of multinationals producing seeds, and to protect local varieties as well as our genetic and cultural heritage; calls on the European Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to forbid the authorisation, cultivation and marketing of GMOs, and to take action to curb the widespread use of pesticides;
69. Urges the Commission to implement, without delay, the points outstanding from the European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015; calls on the Commission to draw up a new and ambitious strategy for the protection and welfare of animals for the 2016-2020 period, with a view to overcoming present shortcomings and loopholes, to create a level playing field and to improve animal welfare across the EU;
70. Takes the view that EU funding for agriculture should aim at developing Member States’ agricultural systems in a way to shorten their external dependency on supplies, and to safeguard agricultural and rural patrimonies;
71. Calls on the European Commission to study the need for the creation of public instruments to regulate production and markets in the milk sector, as well as in others sectors, ensuring fair prices to production, taking into account both the cost of inputs and of consumer prices, in order to ensure a fair distribution of the added value along the value added chain of the sector, while avoiding the concentration and intensification of production, and ensuring the right of each Member State to plant and produce, and to safeguard its food sovereignty;
72. Stresses the need to strengthen and develop a diversified industrial base in all Member States and regions, taking in to account the regional specificities, as this is essential to guaranteeing high levels of employment, economic activity and development;
73. Calls on the European Commission to assess the problem of relocation of industrial production within the global value chains and to propose a ban on EU funding for relocation of production to third countries, in order to preserve industrial jobs in the Member States;
74. Rejects the European Energy Union, a project for the major European monopolies in the sector; calls for public control of this strategic sector, as improving energy efficiency, and ensuring diversification of sources, progression of renewable energy, the sustainable use of endogenous potential of each country and security of supply, among other things, requires planning, and public and democratic control, over the energy sector; stresses the need to come forward with binding sustainability criteria for energy and biomass;
75. Reiterates that energy is a public good and that equal access to energy at affordable energy prices should be ensured for the benefit of the consumers; highlights that the EU should focus closely on the issue of energy poverty, as energy poverty affects nearly 11 % of the EU population; urges, in this regard, the Commission to prioritise measures to alleviate energy poverty in upcoming legislative proposals and to present an action plan by mid-2017;
76. Believes that the energy transition should result in a more efficient, transparent, sustainable, decentralised and democratic energy system, based on renewables, that benefits society as a whole, while at the same time protecting the most vulnerable and ensuring that the benefits of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy are made available to them;
77. Reiterates Parliament’s call for binding target of a 30 % share of renewable energy consumption and a 40 % share in energy savings for 2030; asks, therefore, the Commission to reflect this in the upcoming reviews of the RES and Energy Efficiency directives, and to promote these binding targets during the negotiations of the directives; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to come forward with binding sustainability criteria for energy and biomass;
78. Calls on the European Commission specifically to propose sustainability criteria for industrial products and to fully integrate the ‘circular economy’ in all relevant policies, with consideration of the whole lifecycle of products; further stresses the need to fully implement the actions identified in the Roadmap to Resource-Efficient Europe, including the phasing out of subsidies that have a negative impact on the environment; takes the view that the market approach to the circular economy has hazardous consequences to the public interest, and that strong accountability of the Member States and of public policies is necessary;
79. Rejects the liberalisation models imposed on the Member States in the transport sector; calls, on the contrary, for their immediate revocation, in accordance with the need to safeguard Public Service Obligations, taking into due account the promotion of transport policies that respects the Member State’s sovereignty and their own strategic approach to territorial cohesion and national development; asks that social dialogue be promoted among all workers concerned, along with cooperation to enable better integration between, and interoperability of, national transport networks; stresses the need to promote public transport, shared mobility solutions, and walking and cycling, in particular in urban areas;
80. Urges the Commission to assess EU transport regulations and to adapt them, where appropriate, to the digital age; asks the Commission to re-set the regulatory framework of different transport modes in order to promote new innovations and services for mobility and logistics, while ensuring high standards regarding safety, working conditions and consumer protection, as well as fair taxation and the prevention of harmful environmental effects;
81. Calls on the Commission to take the measures needed to decarbonise the transport sector;
82. Calls for an ambitious plan for the reduction of road fatalities, which includes clear reductions targets;
83. Believes that the climate crisis, as recognised in the IPCC AR5 report that was accepted and endorsed by last the COP 21, is caused by harmful human activity, the abuse of an energy-intensive production system, and the use and exploitation of fossil fuels;
84. Stresses, therefore, that the solution to tackle climate change is mainly to be pursued by commitments to reduce the GHG emissions of all countries concerned in accordance with their historical responsibilities, and, as this should not be left to market-based instruments, demands a rupture with the capitalist development policies, without which measure it is not possible to change production methods or distribution and consumption modes;
85. Regrets the fact that the COP 21 commitments, on the one hand, do not guarantee the reduction of GHG emissions – and, therefore, do not ensure a decrease in the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere to a level considered compatible with an increase in average temperatures of no more than 2 ºC – and, on the other hand, kept and strengthened market mechanisms that translate into a form of private appropriation of nature and its resources;
86. Defends the increase in allocated funding to environmental conservation policies; calls for a substantial increase in the LIFE programme amounting, at least, to 1 % of the EU budget; rejects the weakening of the legislation relative to the protection of habitats and endangered wild species; calls for the creation of a specific financial instrument dedicated to the funding of the Natura 2000 network and the adoption of coherent measures of preservation of the values it represents;
87. Calls on the European Commission to integrate climate policy and climate change policy into all its policies; regrets the lack of ambition as regards binding targets shown to date by the Commission;
88. Calls on the European Commission to be consistent, and to comply with the precautionary principle, in its mandate not to propose further derogations in the use of chemical substances, harmful pesticides and endocrines disruptors on human health and the environment, to reduce the exposure of chemical substances through water, soil, air and food that have a negative impact on human health and the global environment, and to put forward legislative proposals to reduce exposure;
For peace against militarism and NATO
89. Condemns the increased steps towards the militarisation of the EU; rejects the European Security Strategy and its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP); demands an end to EU-NATO cooperation and rejects the current expansion policy of NATO; insists on the dissolution of all foreign military bases in Europe;
90. Insists that any foreign activity of the EU must follow the principles of a strictly civil foreign policy that is in line with international law and applied in a non-discriminatory way, by taking a leading role in the diplomatic and peaceful resolution of conflicts, including through mediation initiatives and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes in line with the United Nations Charter; stresses the importance of efforts to strengthen the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), to improve the EU arms export control regime, to support the NPT regime and nuclear disarmament, and to support measures on poverty eradication, humanitarian aid, sustainable economic and social development, and the Sustainable Development Goals, that favour balanced economic relations, fair trade and the fair distribution of resources and wealth in the EU’s neighbourhood and in the world;
91. Calls on the European Commission to meet its commitment to engage with the ENP partners in implementing the UN Development Goals; stresses that job creation is a decisive issue for the future of most neighbourhood countries; supports the specific focus on youth employability, promoting small and medium-sized enterprises; emphasises that this requires a multilevel approach, from national to regional and local level as well as regional, sub-regional and cross-border cooperation capable of mobilising the EU Member States, the partner countries and their local and regional authorities; calls for realistic approaches and programmes which have concrete benefits for the people; calls on the Commission to present the strategy for cooperation with the neighbours of the neighbours that was announced in the context of the review of the neighbourhood policy;
92. Rejects any use of the EU budget for military or civil-military purposes; rejects the implementation of a pilot project on CSDP research undertaken jointly by the Commission and the EDA, covering, inter alia, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS); is strongly opposed to any use of Horizon 2020 funds, or of the EU budget in general, to finance military, civil-military or security research in general, and for the development of RPAS in particular; calls on the Commission to ensure that the Union’s commitments to poverty eradication, sustainable development, SDGs, arms control, NPT-regime and nuclear disarmament are upheld;
93. Calls on the European Commission to improve the transparency of expenses in the area of international activities, starting in all phases, from programming to ex-ante assessment; reiterates its strong criticism of the continued lack of parliamentary control in the area of foreign and security policies;
94. Affirms that external affairs is the sovereign competence of each Member States, and rejects a one-voice foreign policy for the EU; recalls that the foreign policies of the Member States, individually or in cooperation, must follow the principles of a strictly civil foreign policy, in line with international law and applied in a non-discriminatory way, and that the role in diplomatic and peaceful resolution of conflicts should be held under the auspices of the United Nations Organisation, conducted in a spirit of mutual partnership and solidarity, and respecting the sovereignty of third countries;
95. Strongly rejects the promotion and support of the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC), and the increase and deepening of defence cooperation; rejects any use of the EU budget for military or civil-military purposes; calls for real peace, solidarity and equality policies that aim for arms control, complete disarmament, in particular nuclear, and demilitarisation of the EU;
96. Is highly concerned that many governments are not even respecting the national, EU and international commitments they have made with regard to the export of weapons; calls for an end to the EU arms trade, and to the export of arms and military equipment to conflict zones;
97. Calls on the Commission to revise its Work Programme in line with the Parliament’s resolution;
98. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to be with you here today, to speak at this historic institution of learning and excellence.
The Harvard-Fletcher European Conference is testament to the bonds between our two continents. These bonds go deep in our culture and history, and extend far ahead into our future.
The transatlantic relationship has never been stronger. Ambassador O’Sullivan outlined some of the global issues of the day that bind us together. As the Ambassador of the European Union in the US, he is indeed the best placed person to appreciate the depth of our relationship.
As European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, I would like to focus my speech on a challenge of truly global dimensions. That is of course the migration and refugee crisis that we are dealing with today.
Today, Europe is facing the biggest refugee challenge since the end of the Second World War.
2015 has been the year of many records. More than one million people arrived at the Greek and Italian shores. More than 1.2 million people applied for asylum in the EU. 3,771 lives were lost at sea.
These are tragic and unnecessary deaths, and they can be avoided.
Given the explosive instability in the region these people are coming from, we know the migratory flows are set to continue.
As we head into spring, we know that the numbers will spike again. We know that this is a situation which evolves rapidly.
And we know that the sooner we deal with the challenges on the basis of the twin principles of responsibility and solidarity, the better results we will have.
We have been telling EU countries: As long as everyone is waiting for the others to move first – and as long as some continue to act as if the problem will disappear if they just ignore it – then things will only get worse.
A consistent and coordinated European and global approach, put into practice urgently, is the only way ahead.
At the beginning of 2015 the focus was very much on the Central Mediterranean and the need for actions to save lives.
Then, from August onwards, the focus shifted to the Eastern Mediterranean, and in particular the situation affecting Turkey, Greece, and the Western Balkans.
The escalation of the migratory flows resulted in the reintroduction of internal border controls in several Member States. The situation ended up testing the very foundations of the European Union. The principle of free movement –one of the EU’s major achievements — is under huge pressure.
It is true that the refugee flows took us somewhat by surprise. When our policies were designed, things were different in the area of migration. The flows were of a different nature and scale.
Since this European Commission took office in late 2014, we have been constantly trying, adapting and anticipating.
We took action and proposed concrete responses. In May, we presented the comprehensive European Agenda on Migration to address structural problems.
We put in place an emergency relocation scheme of 160,000 applicants from Italy and Greece to relieve pressure on these two countries. This is a redistribution system for asylum seekers based on solidarity between all EU countries.
Right now, processing and registration centres at the arrival points of the refugees in Italy and Greece are being established to ensure that every refugee who approaches European borders is immediately registered, fingerprinted and identified. This was how we gave EU frontline countries substantial and coordinated support.
The relocation system is based on the properly functioning hotspots.
We didn’t stop here. We presented two concrete Action Plans against smugglers and another one on the Return of irregular migrants to their home countries. Both are essential components of our response.
But our humanitarian efforts and the better management of our borders are two sides of the same coin.
In December, we proposed the creation of a European Border and Coast Guard, which would have enough resources to step in and prevent crises from developing at our borders.
We want it to take immediate operational measures when problems arise at our external borders. And we want it to support Member States to return irregular migrants to their home countries.
Along with the measures to reinforce our borders, we had to also face a mounting threat from terrorism. 2015 was a year of several bloody attacks on European soil – all at the same time as the mounting migration crisis.
Our response again was comprehensive. We put our European Agenda on Security on the table in April 2015 and set out all the measures needed to make a difference for our citizens’ security.
Progress was made on several fronts.
We agreed on EU rules to exchange passenger name records between law enforcement authorities.
We proposed the criminalisation of terrorist offences across the Union.
We introduced tighter rules to control firearms.
We took a whole range of actions with civil society to fight radicalisation.
We launched a partnership with the internet industry to fight terrorist content online.
And we will continue on this path to ensure the safety of our citizens.
2016 will be the year that we focus on terrorist financing, with a range of measures to deprive terrorists of their financial resources.
Our efforts will continue and intensify. Especially because on the migration front, what has been agreed is not yet delivering the expected results. Far more is needed, at the European and the international level.
We have repeatedly called for all EU countries to play their part and show more solidarity, more responsibility. And to act on it.
If we do not deliver, we risk fueling anti-immigrant sentiments across Europe. Xenophobia is showing its ugly face again. Populism is rising.
We are seeing shadows from our recent past, which we never thought we would see again.
Our work therefore must continue. I will outline 5 key areas where we will focus our energy:
First, on our external border control system and our asylum policy. Without a functioning Common European Asylum System, free movement within the Union will continue to be at risk. The two go hand in hand.
Second, the responsibility over asylum applicants and new arrivals, the so-called “Dublin system”, needs to change. The events of last year showed that the current system does not work.
This is because it makes the first EU Member State where irregular migrants enter responsible – and Greece and Italy suffer from a geographical bias. This makes the burden on these frontline States unsustainable. New rules are needed to ensure more solidarity between Member States.
A new mechanism to share asylum seekers between EU Member States will only work if we make progress on bringing national asylum systems to converge: we still have important differences between EU countries when it comes to asylum. This leads people to shop for asylum between EU countries – things therefore need to change here as well.
Third, while we do want to strengthen external borders and security, we do not want to create “Fortress Europe”. We do want to reduce irregular entry of migrants, but we also want to ensure legal and safe pathways towards the EU. This is the best way to ensure that people do not undertake perilous journeys to reach our shores. Humanitarian admission and resettlement schemes must be beefed up and helped with a more permanent framework to resettle people in need. And this is not only a European task, but a global one – where countries like the United States and Canada have a crucial role to play too.
Fourth, keeping in mind demographics and our ageing population, we want to make the EU more attractive for foreign talent. We want to make it easier and more attractive for highly skilled migrants to come work and settle in the EU. But we also want to make our continent more attractive for students, researchers and seasonal workers.
The fifth priority area is integration – one which is often forgotten, but which is increasingly important. And I’m sure you’ll share this idea with me, as I am speaking here in the country known as the melting pot of cultures, where everyone is American, but many also have other identities and origins.
With over a million people arrived in Europe, we will need to make concerted efforts not just now but also in the long-term to ensure that all these individuals becoming fully participating and contributing parts of our society. And we also need to learn from the past, and not lose out of sight all those migrants who are already in Europe.
These reflections take into account the geopolitical tensions, the conflict, the wars, the demographic change, climate change and increasing inequality – all forcing more people than ever before to leave their homes and seek a better life elsewhere.
These are global issues, and we need to face them together, in partnership.
That is exactly what we are beginning to do now with NATO helping on the border between Turkey and Greece. In the strongest possible expression of solidarity from the Transatlantic Alliance, NATO will step in to provide support in dealing with the refugee and migrant crisis.
This will be a mission essentially serving to fulfil the EU’s policy on the flows of migrants. It is a mission to help Greece and Turkey to address the challenges they are facing.
Both the EU and NATO will operate within the same policy framework and underpinned by international and European laws.
We need more such global partnerships.
Today, the ongoing conflict in Syria is the main reason for refugees seeking protection in Europe. But this should be seen in the context of the huge pressures on Syria’s neighbouring countries. We are working with all the countries in this region, doing everything we can to assist them.
I call on our US partners to do the same, and share more of the burden.
Take the example of Turkey. We set up a special Refugee Facility to help Turkey deal with the 2.5 million refugees on its territory. We devoted massive financial resources, directly for refugee health and education.
We allocated €4 billion for humanitarian assistance to countries like Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
We pledged more than €3 billion at the Syrian Donors Conference, sending a strong signal of commitment.
We set up a €3 billion Trust Fund for Africa to address migration in all its dimensions, including poverty, bad governance, and conflict.
But while financial contributions are important, it is not the only answer. Solidarity and responsibility for global problems should guide our actions.
The conflict in Syria is not the only reason for people looking for protection in other countries. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Iraq, Nigeria are all countries from which people leave and seek protection or a better life in the EU or in other countries.
There are three key issues we must address globally:
First, responsibility: how to promote better sharing of this challenge globally? We need to rethink how people in need can access protection.
Second, protection: how to protect vulnerable migrants falling outside the ‘refugee’ definition?
And third, governance: what kind of systems and institutions do we need to ensure protection for those in need? But also: how can we contribute to safer and more thriving living environments so people don’t have to leave in the first place?
Ladies and gentlemen,
2016 will be a hugely important year for Europe as far as migration is concerned.
It will be a decisive year and a year in which our leadership, our solidarity and our courage will be tested more than ever.
It will be about protecting the growing numbers of people fleeing from war and conflict, while ensuring internal security. It will be about Europe, our Union and the values it was built upon.
But 2016 will also be the year in which questions are asked of the international community, and its readiness to face up to its responsibilities. 2016 could therefore be a global turning point — for better or for worse.
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,
– 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) and (4) 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 30th 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, class, caste, sex, sexual orientation or colour is an obligation on all states, whereas it reiterates its attachment to the indivisibility of human rights (whether civil, political, economic, social or cultural), which are interrelated and interdependent, and whereas the deprivation of any one of these rights has a direct and adverse 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; whereas internal and external coherence in the area of human rights is essential for the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy abroad;
D. whereas the Union’s action in its relations with third countries is guided by Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union, which reaffirms the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms and enshrines the obligation to respect human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and the principles of the UN Charter and international law in its action on the international scene;
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, migration 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 international efforts to promote and respect human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
H. whereas some of the members of the Human Rights Council are acknowledged as being among the most serious human rights offenders and have a dubious record in terms of cooperation with the UN Special Procedures and compliance with their 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 from among states which uphold respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy, and urges 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; expresses its concerns about human rights abuses in some newly elected members of the UNHRC; believes that the Member States should not support the election to the UNHRC of countries which do not uphold respect for human rights;
4. Stresses that it is important to support the independence and integrity of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) so as to ensure that it can continue to exercise its mandate in an effective and impartial manner; calls, in this connection, for the OHCHR to be provided with adequate support and funding; reiterates its support for the Special Procedures and the independent status of mandate holders such as the Special Rapporteurs with a view to enabling them to fulfil their duties with full impartiality, and calls on all states to cooperate with these procedures; regrets the lack of cooperation demonstrated by some member states;
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 especially 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, notably civil society, participate fully in all aspects of the UNHCR’s work, and expresses its concern that severe limitations are hampering civil society’s participation in the UPR process; calls on the UN member states, including the EU Member States, to use the UPR as a means of assessing their own human rights situation and to make recommendations in this regard,
7. Calls for the EU 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 protect 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; calls, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the UNHRC, for an assessment of the Council’s impact, including with regard to its mandate and the implementation of its resolutions and other decisions;
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. Takes the view that contemporary digital technologies offer advantages and challenges for the protection of the right to privacy, for the exercise of freedom of expression online around the world and for security, as contemporary digital technologies may be used for extremist and terrorist propaganda and as 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;
12. Calls for the UN member states, including the EU Member States, to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in order to combat the spread of racial, ethnic and xenophobic hatred and incitement over the internet and through social media networks by taking appropriate legislative measures, with full respect for freedom of expression and opinion;
Human rights defenders
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. Considers that the continued harassment and detention of human rights defenders and opposition figures by a number of UNHRC members undermines the credibility of the UNHRC; urges the EU and its Member States to promote an initiative at UN level to outline a coherent and comprehensive response to the major challenges that human rights defenders working on women’s rights, the defence of environmental, land and indigenous peoples’ rights, on corruption and impunity, religion, journalists and other human rights defenders using media, including online and social media, face worldwide and to systematically denounce their assassination;
15. Is extremely concerned about the increasing attacks on humanitarian aid workers and medical facilities; recalls that any such attack is prohibited under international humanitarian law (IHL) and calls on the conflicting parties to comply with the provisions of IHL; stresses the importance of improving the security of aid workers in order to react more effectively to the attacks;
16. Recalls the EU’s position on zero tolerance for the death penalty and reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment in all cases and under all circumstances; underlines the importance of the EU continuing to advance the moratorium on the death penalty and emphasises once again that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity; reiterates its position that support for third countries’ drug enforcement policy, such as financial assistance, technical assistance and capacity-building, should exclude the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences; expresses its support for the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on human rights and drug policy;
17. 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 and not to reintroduce it;
Freedom of religion
18. 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; equally, recalls its interrelatedness with other human rights and fundamental freedoms encompassing the right to believe or not to believe, the freedom to practise theistic, non-theistic or atheistic belief alike, and the right to adopt, change and abandon or return to a belief of one’s choice; 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 minorities because of their religion or beliefs, 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;
19. 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 to protect religious minorities, non-believers, apostates and atheists who are victims of blasphemy laws; 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;
Social and economic rights
20. 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; highlights, in this connection, the importance of ratification of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR establishing complaint and inquiry mechanisms;
21. 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, notably by facilitating access to food, water, education, health care and housing;
22. 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, the rule of law, the fair administration of justice, public services such as education and basic health services; 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;
23. Emphasises that minority communities in third countries have specific needs and that their equality should be promoted in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life;
24. Calls on the UN member states, including the EU Member States, to request that all Special Procedure mandate holders give special attention to issues affecting indigenous women, young people and persons with disabilities and report such issues to the UNHRC; calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Commission and the Member States to support the participation of indigenous peoples in UNHRC sessions; calls on the EEAS and the Member States to actively support the development of the system-wide action plan on indigenous peoples, especially as regards the regular consultation of indigenous peoples;
Business and human rights
25. Supports the effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; urges all UN member states, including the EU Member States, to develop and implement national action plans; considers that trade and human rights can go hand in hand and that the business community has an important role to play in promoting human rights and democracy; reaffirms the importance of EU and multinational enterprises playing a leading role in promoting international standards on business and human rights;
26. Calls on the UN and the EU also to raise with multinational and European enterprises the issue of land grabbing and land rights defenders, who are victims of reprisals including threats, harassment, arbitrary arrest, assault and murder;
27. 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 securing respect for human rights, access to justice for victims who face both practical and legal challenges to access remedies at national and international levels, with regard to human rights violations linked to business;
28. Notes that an open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) 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 to support efforts to align its policies with the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises and recommends that the EU and its Member States engage constructively in the debate regarding a legally binding international instrument on business and human rights within the UN system;
Migration and refugees
29. Is alarmed by the most serious humanitarian 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, generalised violence and climate change, and in search of protection and a better life, who are risking their lives by taking dangerous journeys; calls for effective and coordinated international action to address the root causes of migration; calls, furthermore, for more efforts at UN level to address the current and future migratory challenges by ensuring appropriate funding for UNHCR, WFP and other UN bodies involved in providing basic services for refugees inside and outside conflict areas; highlights the importance of the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, including his recommendations;
30. Calls on all countries to adopt a human rights-based approach to migration, which safeguards the rights of migrants and refugees in migration policies and management, paying particular attention to the situation of marginalised and disadvantaged groups of migrants and refugees, 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;
31. 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 and regardless of their immigration status; recalls that a global strategy on migration is closely linked with development and humanitarian policies, including setting up humanitarian corridors and delivering humanitarian visas; reiterates its call for all migration cooperation and readmission agreements with non EU-states to comply with international law; recalls that the return of migrants should only be carried out with full respect for the migrants’ rights, based upon informed decisions and only when the protection of their rights is guaranteed in their country; calls on governments to put an end to the arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention of migrants; expresses its concern about discrimination against and violations of the rights of migrants and refugees; calls, in this connection, on UN member states, including the EU Member States, to respect the right to seek and enjoy asylum;
Climate change and human rights
32. 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; regrets the absence of any reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in UNFCCC and calls for all UNFCCC policies and actions to be human rights-based;
33. 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, displacement of populations, and food and water shortages;
34. Calls on the international community to address the legal shortfalls in the term ‘climate refugee’, including its possible international definition;
35. 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; calls on the UN and all its member states to take concrete steps to ensure women’s autonomy, 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;
36. Expresses its dismay at the fact that since the emergence of violent extremist groups such as Daesh in Syria and Iraq or 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, and has placed a critical new challenge before the international community; calls on all governments and the UN institutions to step up their commitment in combating these abominable crimes and restoring women’s dignity so that they receive justice, reparation and adequate support measures;
37. Considers that guaranteeing women’s autonomy, by addressing the underlying inequalities between women and men which render women and girls vulnerable during times of conflict, is one way of countering extremism; stresses the need for continuity of education for girls in refugee camps, in conflict areas affected by extreme poverty and environmental extremes such as drought and floods;
38. Stresses the importance of not undermining the ‘acquis’ of the Beijing Platform for Action regarding access to education and health as a basic human right; emphasises the fact that universal access to sexual and reproductive health services contributes to reducing infant and maternal mortality; points out that family planning, maternal health, easy access to contraception and access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services are important elements in saving women’s lives and helping them rebuild their lives if they have been victims of rape; highlights the need to place these policies at the core of development cooperation with third countries;
39. Underlines the importance of measures strengthening leadership and participation of women at all levels of decision-making; calls on states to secure equal representation for women in public institutions and public life, including special attention to the inclusion of minority women;
40. Invites the Commission, the EEAS and the Vice-President/High Representative (VP/HR) to continue promoting the political and economic empowerment of women and girls by mainstreaming gender equality in all their external policies and programmes, including through structured dialogues with third countries, by publicly raising gender-related issues and by ensuring sufficient resources for this purpose;
41. Supports the EU’s efforts to promote children’s rights, in particular by contributing to ensuring children’s access to water, sanitation, healthcare and education, by ensuring the rehabilitation and reintegration of children enlisted in armed groups, by eliminating child labour, torture, child witchcraft, trafficking, child marriage and sexual exploitation, and by assisting children in armed conflicts and ensuring their access to education in conflict zones and refugee camps;
42. 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;
43. 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;
44. Notes with concern that a number of persons have been sentenced to death for crimes committed while under the age of 18 and have been put to death in countries around the world in 2015 despite the prohibition on the use of the death penalty for juveniles in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
Rights of LGBTI persons
45. Expresses its concern regarding the persistence of discriminatory laws and practices and of acts of violence against individuals in various countries, on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity; encourages close monitoring of the situation of LGBTI people in countries where anti-LGBTI laws have recently been introduced; expresses its strong concern regarding the so-called ‘anti-propaganda’ laws limiting freedom of expression and assembly, including in countries on the European continent;
46. Reaffirms its support for the continuing work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in promoting and protecting the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI people, in particular through statements, reports and the Free & Equal campaign; encourages the High Commissioner to continue fighting discriminatory laws and practices; is concerned at restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI human rights defenders, and calls for the EU to step up its support for them; notes that the fundamental rights of LGBTI people are more likely to be respected if they have access to all legal institutions;
EU human rights mainstreaming and coherence
47. Calls on 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 Treaty on European Union and the General Provisions on the Union’s External Action;
48. 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, development cooperation, and 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;
49. Reiterates, furthermore, the importance of the EU actively and consistently engaging in UN human rights mechanisms, in particular with the Third Committee, the General Assembly (UNGA) and the UNHRC; acknowledges the efforts of the EEAS, the EU Delegations in New York and Geneva and the Member States to increase EU coherence on human rights issues at UN level by means of timely and substantive consultation and to deliver a ‘one-voice message’; encourages the EU to increase its efforts to make its voice heard, including by intensifying the growing practice of cross-regional initiatives and by co-sponsoring and taking the lead on resolutions; reiterates its call for stronger visibility of EU action in all multilateral forums;
50. Requests the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to continue to enhance the effectiveness, coherence and visibility of the EU’s human rights policy in the context of the UNHRC and in further developing close cooperation with the OHCHR and the Special Procedures;
51. Strongly emphasises the need to improve the preparation and coordination of EU positions for the UNHRC sessions and to address the issue of consistency between the EU’s external and internal human rights policy;
52. Recalls the importance of keeping the institutionalised practice of sending parliamentary delegations to the UNHRC and the UNGA;
53. Calls for a more principled and non-selective engagement of the EU Member States at the UNHRC;
Drones and autonomous weapons
54. Reiterates its call on the EU Council to develop an EU common position on the use of armed drones, giving the utmost importance to respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and addressing issues such as the legal framework, proportionality, accountability, the protection of civilians and transparency; urges the EU once again to ban the production, development, and use of fully autonomous weapons which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention; insists that human rights should be part of all dialogues with third countries on counter-terrorism;
55. Takes positive note of the counter-terrorism guidance document drafted by the EEAS 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 connection, 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 for countering terrorist and extremist propaganda and recruitment methods, notably online;
56. 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;
Development and human rights
57. Stresses the importance of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on peace and justice of Agenda 2030, which should be one of the priorities for all external and internal action, especially when it comes to development cooperation financing;
Sports and human rights
58. Is seriously concerned that some major sports events are being hosted by authoritarian states where human rights violations occur; calls for the UN and the EU Member States to raise this issue and engage with national sports federations, corporate actors and civil society organisations on the practicalities of their participation in such events, including with regard to the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar 2022, and the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022;
International Criminal Court
59. Reiterates its full support for the work of the ICC in its role of ending the impunity of the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community and to provide justice for the victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; remains vigilant regarding any attempts to undermine its legitimacy or independence; urges the EU and its Member States to cooperate with the Court and provide it with strong diplomatic, political and financial support, including in the UN; calls for the EU, its Member States and its Special Representatives to actively promote the ICC, the enforcement of its decisions and the fight against impunity for Rome Statute crimes, including by strengthening and expanding its relationship with the Security Council and by promoting universal ratification of the Rome Statute and the Kampala amendments;
Countries under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
60. Welcomes Georgia’s membership of the UNHRC and the recent UPR on Georgia; notes the legislative reforms that have resulted in some progress and improvements with regard to the justice and law enforcement sector, the Prosecutor’s Office, the fight against ill-treatment, children’s rights, the protection of privacy and personal data and internally displaced persons (IDPs);
61. Notes, however, that further efforts are needed with regard to full independence of the judiciary and to ill-treatment, especially regarding pre-trial detention and rehabilitation of victims, to accountability for abuses by law enforcement agencies, to investigations into past abuses by government officials and to minorities and women’s rights; stresses the responsibility of the government under international human rights law to protect all children from violence, and calls for scrutiny of all the children’s charitable institutions; calls for provision to be made for the rehabilitation of victims; remains concerned about freedom of expression and the media and the lack of access by monitors to the occupied regions of Abkhazia and 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;
62. Commends Lebanon for the open border and reception policy which it had for years regarding refugees from Palestine, Iraq and Syria, stresses that this country, in which one person out of four is a refugee, has the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide, and calls on the European Union 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 into, stay in and exit from Lebanon;
63. 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;
64. 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 contributes 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;
65. 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;
66. Welcomes the holding of competitive elections on 8 November 2015, an important milestone in the country’s democratic transition; takes positive note of the expression of support by Myanmar’s voters for the continued democratisation of the country; notes with concern, however, 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;
67. Condemns the severe and widespread 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 and expresses its concern that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has not been permitted to establish an office in the country; stresses the need for a full sustainability impact assessment to be carried out before negotiations on the EU-Myanmar investment agreement are finalised;
68. Welcomes the entry into force on 20 September 2015 of Nepal’s new constitution, which should lay the foundations 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;
69. 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;
70. 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;
71. 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; remains concerned about, and calls on the government to reconsider the ban on all political parties; calls on the EU Institutions and the EU Member States to offer technical and legal assistance to help Oman create a safe and enabling environment for civil society organisations;
72. 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;
73. Is concerned by the recent constitutional changes 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;
74. Welcomes the Peace Agreement signed by the warring parties on 28 August 2015 to end the civil war, which includes transitional power-sharing, security arrangements and the establishment of a hybrid court to try all crimes committed since the conflict started; recalls that the conflict has claimed thousands of lives and caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and refugees;
75. Calls on all parties to refrain from committing human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, including those amounting to international crimes, such as extrajudicial killings, ethnically targeted violence, conflict-related sexual violence, including rape, as well as gender-based violence, recruitment and use of children, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests and detention;
76. Welcomes the UNHRC resolution of June 2015 and the deployment of an OHCHR mission to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan; calls on the Human Rights Council to support the appointment of a Special Rapporteur onSouth Sudan, with a mandate to monitor and publicly report on violations, assist the government in implementing the recommendations to be made by the OHCHR mission, and make recommendations for achieving effective accountability;
77. 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 on the Venezuelan authorities to immediately release the opposition leaders and all peaceful protesters arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and fundamental rights;
78. Welcomes the holding of the elections on 6 December 2015 and the installation of the new National Assembly; condemns any attempts to undermine the full enforcement of the election results expressing the will of the Venezuelan people, such as the suspension of some democratically elected members; recalls that the new government will have to tackle a wide range of human rights issues, such as impunity, accountability for extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, fair trials, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of assembly and association, and media freedom; stresses that Venezuela’s membership of the UNHRC for the three-year term beginning on 1 January 2016 brings with it a special responsibility to respect human rights;
79. Expresses its concerns about the dramatic security and humanitarian situation in Syria; emphasises the importance of the work carried out by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria; condemns the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, attacks on civilians and protected cultural heritage objects, and the punitive imposition of sieges and blockades; emphasises the need for special attention and support to be given to women victims of violence, women’s organisations and their participation in humanitarian aid and conflict resolution; calls for the EU and the Member States to help make sure that the commission of inquiry is adequately funded to fulfil its mandate, which consists in establishing the facts and circumstances of all serious human rights violations committed, and where possible, identifying those responsible with a view to ensuring that the perpetrators of violations, including violations that may constitute crimes against humanity, are held accountable, including by referral to the International Criminal Court;
80. Reiterates its conviction that a sustainable solution to the crisis in Syria can be achieved only through an inclusive political settlement leading to a genuine political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future; welcomes the final declaration of 30 October 2015 on the results of the Syria Talks in Vienna; welcomes the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) on 18 December 2015;
81. Is alarmed at the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Syria, who are forced to convert and pay tribute, and are attacked, injured, sold into slavery and harvested for organs solely because of their faith;
82. Expresses deep concern about the targeted attacks on human rights defenders, journalists and their family members; strongly condemns political violence, summary executions and other human rights violations; urges the Burundian authorities to end these violations and abuses as a matter of critical and urgent priority and to conduct impartial and independent investigations with a view to bringing those responsible to justice and providing victims with redress;
83. Remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact of the crisis on the civilian population in the country and region as a whole; calls for the EU to continue to work towards a consensual outcome between the government and the opposition in order to the re-establish an inclusive and democratic political system;
84. Welcomes the holding of a Special Session of the Human Rights Council on 17 December 2015 on preventing further deterioration of the human rights situation in Burundi, but regrets the delay in holding it; calls for the expeditious deployment of the mission by independent experts, and urges the Burundian authorities to fully cooperate with the mission;
85. Remains deeply concerned about the systematic violation of human rights in the country; is seriously concerned about the alarming rate at which court rulings ordered and carried out the death penalty in Saudi Arabia in 2015; deplores the mass executions committed in the last weeks; calls on Saudi Arabia to impose a moratorium on the death penalty;
86. Calls on the Saudi authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, including the 2015 Sakharov Laureate, Raif Badawi; calls for the EU to closely follow his particular case;
87. Reiterates that UNHRC members should be elected from among states which uphold respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy, which is currently not the case in Saudi Arabia; calls on the Saudi authorities to cooperate fully with the UNHRC Special Procedures and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
88. 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; expresses its profound concern at the continued restrictions to freedom of expression and the freedoms of association and peaceful assembly; condemns the harassment of independent and opposition journalists and the harassment and detention of human rights activists; urges Belarus to join a global moratorium on the execution of the death penalty as a first step towards its permanent abolition; calls on the government to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and commit to engage in reforms to protect human rights, including by implementing the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur and other human rights mechanisms;
Middle East Peace Process
89. Takes note of the VP/HR and Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process adopted on 18 January 2016; fully agrees with the Council that compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law by all, including accountability, is a cornerstone for peace and security and that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law and undermine the viability of the two-state solution; deeply regrets the resignation of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Makarim Wibisono;
90. 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 on 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.