“Human Rights in (Post-)Conflict Situations
The Role of National Human Rights Institutions”
EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore
30 November 2020
Human rights are in the DNA of the European Union and therefore human rights are a central part of the European Union’s relations with countries all over the world. That is at the heart my job as European Union Special Representative for Human Rights.
Whenever I engage with any country, one of my first calls is usually to the National Human Rights Institution. Because I expect the National Human Rights Institution to be independent of the Government and be able to provide relevant and crucial information to give me an assessment of the human rights situation in that country.
I expect to that the National Human Rights Institution will not only have the official information from the Government but also the perspective of the civil society in that country.
All this is especially important when there is a conflict in that country or the country is involved in a conflict and there is a need to address human rights abuses and sometimes violations of international humanitarian law.
The enjoyment of human rights is not possible without the resolution of conflict. The resolution of conflict in turn need to take on board respect for human rights and accountability for violations.
Let me give you two examples. For the past five years, I have had the honour to be the European Union Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia. I have seen that innovative transitional justice system in the Colombian Peace Agreement is delivering on accountability and truth and the how the work of the National Human Rights Institution, the Ombudsman’s Office, is following through on the ground.
I have also seen some of the challenges that remain, especially the violence against and the intimidation of human rights defenders, and these are issues, which I and the European Union Delegation in Colombia discuss regularly with the Authorities and most recently during our annual EU-Colombia Human Rights Dialogue.
The second example is the situation in Myanmar where the escalation of armed conflict is worrying as we get reports of unlawful attacks against civilians, and other violations committed by both parties.
The EU’s main concerns are the lack of accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and the lack of humanitarian access for internally displaced persons.
Also the lack of cooperation with UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country and the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar (IIMM).
All these elements are regularly raised and discussed with Myanmar’s Government. Most recently during EU-Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue.
Let me end by saying that I believe that independent, strong and trusted National Human Rights Institutions can play an essential role to promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in conflict situations and the EU is ready to work closely with National Human Rights Institutions on this agenda.
Find more about the ENNHRI initiative here.