European External Action Service

03/09/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/09/2021 12:11

HRC 46- EU Statement: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, as well as the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia align themselves with this statement. [The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process].

The EU thanks the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner and her office for the reports under item 3.

We welcome the SG report on the impact of COVID-19 on the realization of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The pandemic disproportionately affected economic, social and cultural rights; worsened inequalities and added layers of vulnerability to those already most discriminated and in the most vulnerable situations. Mitigating these negative effects is among the EU's priorities. We are committed to strengthening universal health coverage, ensure decent work, social protection and education and to invest in robust public policies to create more resilient, equitable and sustainable societies that are more resilient to future crisis. The EU is deeply concerned about the disproportionate and negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women's and girls' enjoyment of human rights and on gender equality worldwide. With women making up around 70 % of the global workforce in the healthcare and social sectors, they have been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic and disproportionately affected by job and income losses, labour exploitation, school closures, and increase in unpaid care work.

The EU welcomes the three OHCHR reports related to the rights of persons with disabilities, namely their relationship with the realization of the right to work; with participation in physical activity and sport and with climate change. As a party to the CRPD, the EU and its Member States are fully committed to removing all barriers that still hinder access of persons with disabilities to work and to sport. This commitment is reflected at the EU's upcoming Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021/2030. We have to fight against stigma, discrimination, harmful stereotypes and physical, communication and attitudinal barriers especially by implementing rights-based policies aiming at ensuring accessibility, reasonable accommodation and creating an enabling and conducive environment for the participation of persons with disabilities in the labour market and in sports. Particular efforts have to be done to counter the exacerbated barriers that COVID brought to persons with disabilities in maintaining employment. The European Disability Strategy 2021-2030 which is excepted to be made public one of this days

The EU thanks the High Commissioner for her report on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. We are concerned with the reported increase of stigmatization and acts of incitement to hatred targeting persons belonging to minority communities and with the disproportionate impact those in vulnerable situations suffer with COVID-19. We welcome the OHCHR guidance which references the need for policies that deliver universal and equal access to social welfare protections and quality health care and advance the right to social protection.

Finally, the EU would like to thank the Chair-Rapporteur for presenting the report on the 6th session of the open-ended IGWG on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights. The EU remains committed to engagement at UN level in order to achieve meaningful and tangible progress on Business and Human Rights. Such progress should address the urgent need to identify, prevent and mitigate and where appropriate, remediate adverse impacts on human rights and to ensure victims' access to remedy if violations or abuses occur. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide an authoritative framework for immediate action around the world on this important and pressing agenda. However, much remains to be done in this regard. We believe in the potential of a legally binding instrument to effectively contribute to enhance the level of protection against human rights abuses and to ensure that countries do not gain undue competitive advantage by disregarding human rights. Any international instrument concerning this matter must be consistent with the UN Guiding Principles, legally sound, implementable and enforceable. It must also avoid any duplication of efforts and enjoy strong cross-regional support from both developing and developed countries. This is the only way to ensure policy coherence and, with it, a level playing field for companies, while ultimately promoting human rights enjoyment around the globe.

Thank you, Madam President.