EU and UN Can Do More For Human Rights Together


Chairwoman Hautala took part today in the Annual Meeting of Chairpersons of the United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies to discuss the cooperation of the Treaty Bodies with the EU. [:]
The discussions at the seminar were focused on how the UN can better make use of the EU human rights policies and on the other hand, how the EU can use the recommendations of the UN Treaty Bodies and thereby advance their implementation.

Several high level experts tackled issues such as to what extent could and should the UN Treaty Bodies increase their analysis of EU policies and legislation when reviewing the reports of EU Member States, and how should the EU take increasing account of the UN conventions in its policy-making and legislation.

Chairwoman Hautala addressed in particular the issue of the possible role of the EU in promoting implementation and follow up to the recommendations of UN Treaty Bodies, inside and outside Europe’s borders. While acknowledging that there is much to improve on the EU internal human rights record, the question of how can the EU contribute to implementation of Treaty Bodies’ recommendations outside Europe, is particularly pertinent one. Ms Hautala noted that all too often, the EU policies abroad are inconsistent with the Union’s human rights values and obligations. The mainstreaming of human rights into the core of political cooperation with third countries still seems to be very piecemeal indeed.

As to the cooperation with the EU and the UN, and the OHCHR office in Brussels in particular, Ms Hautala expressed her heartfelt delight. The institutions have already held joint discussions and meet on a regular basis to discuss human rights issues of common concern more in detail. The UN core treaties play a key role in the activities of the EU and the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, in particular. Moreover, there is for instance tremendous common interest in promoting the rights of women, people with disabilities and human rights defenders, and joint efforts in this regard are for this reason higly desirable.

While the EU moves on to the post-Lisbon phase in its human rights remit, many of the traditional policies will have to be reviewed and honed. Human Rights Dialogues is one of the instruments in need of thorough review. This particular review will offer a unique opportunity to look into ways to make better use of the recommendations of the UN Treaty Bodies in these talks with third countries.

Indeed, there are several ways for EU to promote the recommendations of the UN Treaty Bodies. For instance, EU institutions can play a role in publicizing such recommendations. The institutions can also put EU Member States concerned under political and legal pressure to implement the recommendations. In addition, the EU can also help promoting the implementation of such recommendations through its political and Human Rights Dialogues and other technical assistance. Through its support to NGOs, the EU can also help producing alternative reports to Treaty Bodies.

Ms Hautala assured that the discussion on how the EU and UN can do more together and of these ideas will undoubtedly continue in the Subcommittee on Human Rights.