Statement by the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Mr. Eamon Gilmore on Behalf of the EU at Human Rights 75 High-Level Event “The Future of Human Rights and Peace and Security” 

EUSR Gilmore – EU Statement

“The Future of Human Rights and Peace and Security” 

Roundtable 1, Human Rights 75 High-Level Event

Tuesday, 12 December 2023


Thank you. Today’s discussion takes place at a time when the world is convulsed by conflict, including in Europe, and with it, wilful disregard for international law and widespread atrocious violations of human rights. 

We have all learned the hard way that conflict usually has its origins in the denial of human rights and it was this realisation that led to the foundation of the European Union which is essentially a peace and human rights project.

Our treaties make clear that the Union’s external action is guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law and the universality and indivisibility of human rights. This is because history has taught us that we can only really protect our own freedom, if we protect the freedom of others.

Our High Representative Josep Borrell said recently, “One horror can never justify another”. Nothing can ever justify the killing of innocent civilians, particularly children. The same standards of human rights and the same international humanitarian law applies everywhere. The suffering of others is no different, whether it occurs in Ukraine, Gaza, Israel, Ethiopia, Sudan, Myanmar or the many other places in the world where conflict is happening.

Prevention, peace building, reconciliation and mediation are an important part of the EU’s Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy.

And I want to say a couple of things about what the EU does to link human rights with peace and security.

Conflict prevention is also a central part of the EU’s external action and Common Security and Defence Policy and crisis response. Human Rights are prioritised in the EU’s early action and conflict prevention tools, including the EU Conflict Early Warning System, Conflict Analysis, Horizon Scanning and the EU Atrocity Prevention Toolkit.

The EU’s flagship prevention tool, the Early Warning System, considers factors that indicate risks of serious violations, including hate speech, a country’s history with mass atrocities, or failed recognition of past abuses.

Human rights mainstreaming is a standard practice in our CSDP missions and operations, and we have deployed human rights advisors in many missions to facilitate this work.

The EU supports the security and defence sectors of partner countries to strengthen their capacities to protect against various types of threats and to respond more efficiently to the security needs of individuals and the state.

Last week, EU Member States endorsed the EU Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Due Diligence Policy on Security Sector Support to third parties.

The EU is very committed to transitional justice as an integral part of state- and peace-building and embedded in our wider crisis response, conflict prevention, security and development efforts. Accountability is crucial, not only to ensure justice, especially for victims, but also to prevent future violations and abuses.

Colombia, I think, is a very good example of this which the European Union supports and I was glad to hear Vice President Francia Márquez speak earlier and I encourage you to learn lessons from that process.

And one of the lessons here is that the route to defeating terrorism can never be over the dead bodies of civilians and children.

Finally, this Council, the UN human rights mechanisms and the work of the Office of the High Commissioner are all vital for prevention and in our efforts to achieve peace and security for all. And we should all support them and we should all cooperate with them.

I think that we need to do things differently, but there are many things we can already do, and we should do so more effectively.