My September Newsletter – UN General Assembly and Beyond

UN General Assembly High Level Week: I was in New York representing the European Union at various events during the high-level week.  This included the High-level meeting to mark the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; meeting with Ukrainian civil society representatives; and high level events on fundamental freedoms online with UN ASG Brand Kehris and the Czech Foreign Minister and the death penalty moratorium with Foreign Ministers from Sierra Leone, Italy, Costa Rica, Australia, Germany, Belgium and Spain.


UNGA Bilaterals: I held meetings with César Landa Foreign Minister of Peru; Eduardo Enrique Reina, Foreign Minister of Honduras; Deng Dau Deng, Deputy Foreign Minister of South Sudan, the National Unity Government of Myanmar; Volker Türk recently appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Yerzhan Kazykhan, Special Representative of the President of Kazakhstan; Erin Barclay, Acting Assistant Secretary, Human Rights and Labour at U.S. State Department; and Heidi Hautala, IPI Chairperson and Vice President of the European Parliament with Charles Santiago, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights Chairperson.


International Criminal Court: At the Meeting of the Informal Ministerial Network for the ICC held in New York on 22 September, I spoke on behalf of HRVP Borrell. I reflected on the achievements of the Court and underlined the need to make the ‘Ukraine momentum’ a standard for fighting impunity in other parts of the world.


Belarus: I spoke at a side event with Sviatlana Tsihanouskaya and the Foreign Minister of Estonia Urmas Reinsalu on violations of the rights of children in Belarus. I also had a separate discussion with Ms. Tsihanouskaya and her team on the overall human rights situation in Belarus. My social media campaign continues to bring attention to the 1300+ political prisoners in Belarus.


The World Needs a Renewed Push for Human Rights’ Read my opinion piece in Politico where I argue that, “freedom, equality and dignity shouldn’t just be aspirations and ambitions, but actions.”


Philippines: On 5 September, I met with Maria Ressa, an independent Philippine journalist and the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Together with her international legal defence team, we discussed charges brought against her as well the situation of independent media in the world.


Republic of Korea: On 28 September, I met with Lee Shin-hwa, the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador at large for International Cooperation on North Korea Human Rights. We discussed new avenues for addressing the dire human rights situation in the DPRK.


South Africa: I co-chaired the 7th EU-South Africa Structured Dialogue Forum on Human Rights on 6 September with EEAS Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Global Issues, Helena König, and Director General of the South Africa Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Zane Dangor. Read the press release here.


Uganda: On 15 September I met the Ugandan writer-in-exile Kakwenza Rukirabashaija in Brussels. He shared his experience of his time in jail, where he was allegedly tortured, for criticising President Museveni. Rukirabashaija welcomed the EU’s calls for due process and an end to torture.


United Arab Emirates: On 28 September, I received Mohamed Alsahlawi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the EU. We exchanged on the Union’s new strategic partnership with the Gulf, the upcoming Human Rights Dialogue, global issues as well as on individual cases.


Occupied Palestinian Territories: On 14 September 2022, I held an exchange of views with Palestinian Deputy Ambassador Adel Atieh on the situation of Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees in Israeli prisons. I recalled the EU´s strong commitment towards the Palestinian people and the individual cases of prisoners, which are closely followed by the EU. The upcoming EU-IL Association Council, will provide the EU and all stakeholders with a renewed opportunity to improve the situation on the ground. On 27 September, I met with MIFTAH, a civil society organisation, to hear their concerns for the rights of Palestinian populations and their recommendations.


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Kyrgyzstan: On 27 September I met online with the Ombudsperson of Kyrgyzstan, Ms Atyr Abrakhmatova. I expressed my deep sympathies with those affected by the recent clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and underscored the importance of reaching a sustainable solution to existing differences. The conversation followed the EU-Kyrgyz Human Rights Dialogue and the EU GSP+ Monitoring Mission held in Bishkek earlier this month.


Kazakhstan: On 28 September I welcomed to Brussels the Ombudsperson of Kazakhstan, Ms Elvira Azimova. We exchanged on the human rights situation in the country, including the investigations following the events that occurred in January, and other individual cases.


Democracy: On 1 September, I spoke at the Forum 2000 conference in Prague in a debate on democratic cooperation amid growing authoritarianism in the world. In the margins of the conference, I had good meetings with Myanmar’s National Unity Government as well as with Czech and U.S. government representatives.


 “The Council of Europe is the European Union’s natural first partner.”

Council of Europe: On 7 September, I travelled to Strasbourg to address the Committee of Ministers at the Council of Europe. I also held meetings with CoE Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić as well as the President of the European Court of Human Rights Judge Robert Spano and the Court’s Vice President (now President) Siofra O’Leary. I offered the EU’s strong support to the Council of Europe and the EU’s determination to finalise the accession process to the European Convention of Human Rights.


EU Fundamental Rights Agency: On 8 September I joined over 40 human rights leaders for an expert seminar “Putting human rights at the heart of Europe’s future” organised by EU Fundamental Rights Agency, to discuss the EU’s actions to protect the rights of people as the flee the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The summary of the seminar is available here.


Internet Shutdowns: On 26 September, I opened a virtual event on combating Internet shutdowns organized jointly by the EU and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It was a good opportunity to look back at our #InternetShutdowns campaign on social media and strengthen our strategic partnership with the OHCHR. Watch the recording here.


Human Rights Defenders: I delivered the welcoming address to the beneficiaries of the programme in Brussels on 27 September. Over 53,000 human rights defenders have received support through this EU funded programme.


Business and Human Rights: I delivered the keynote speech at the Intel and Article One Conference on Responsible Business Conduct, Innovation and Artificial Intelligence in Dublin on 12 September. Read the speech here.

Prosperity in the future will not be built on the exploited backs of poor people in remote parts of the world.  It will be built on the rising tide that comes from increased freedom, equality and prosperity.”


Upcoming in October (subject to changes)


3 October


Opening of “Realising the right to education worldwide through digital transformation” – HRC51 – Joint side event by EU and African Union
12 October

13 October

Meeting Russian civil society in Warsaw

EuroMed Rights 25th anniversary Conference

19 October

20 October

24 October

Opening the EU-Moldova Human Rights Dialogue

Meeting Afghanistan Human Rights Coordination Mechanism

Co-chairing the EU-ASEAN Dialogue on Human Rights, Jakarta

Eamon Gilmore

EU Special Representative for Human Rights

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