EU human rights engagement in UN bodies
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This report presents the outcome of the analysis and critical assessment of EU human rights engagement in UN bodies. The EU has committed itself in the Treaty on the European Union to ‘promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations.’ In light of this provision, and taking into account the considerable challenges the EU-UN cooperation encounters, the present report aims at four goals. Firstly, to map the long-standing and multifaceted engagement of the EU within and towards UN human rights bodies. Secondly, to critically assess the EU’s engagement in the UN from the perspective of both its policy and institutions. Thirdly, to identify specific and structural flaws in the EU’s approach to human rights at the UN. Fourthly, to find creative ways of enhancing the EU’s position, role, inclusion in and impact upon these UN bodies. The deliverable consists of seven chapters. The first chapter presents the aims of the report and the methodology of the research. It also explains the key concepts of the deliverable, such as coherence, leadership or mutual influence between the EU and the UN. The second chapter explores two of the guiding principles of the EU’s external policy: human rights and multilateralism. In particular, it contains an analysis of the Union’s commitment to ‘effective multilateralism’ and consistency of specific human rights priorities throughout the EU legislation and other documents. The third chapter presents the institutional framework of the EU-UN relations. As both, the EU and the UN, share a common trait – a high complexity of their organisational structure, chapter III begins with a detailed mapping of both organisations. It also explains the role of different stakeholders in the EU-UN cooperation. This chapter also tackles the relationships between stakeholders and the coordination of the EU’s position at the UN. The status of the EU in the UN is also explored from the point of view of the legal framework of both organisations. The fourth chapter presents the processes and dynamics behind the formulation of EU human rights aims, objectives and priorities at the UN. It indicates the critical factors, relevant actors and their roles as well as the overall characteristics of the process. The chapter also provides a detailed analysis of the EU’s specific goals and objectives at the UN as well as their consistency. The report focuses on the Union’s priorities with regard to (i) thematic human rights issues, (ii) its country-specific priorities, and (iii) its aims and objectives relating to the institutional architecture of the UN. The fifth chapter concerns the tools and methods deployed by the EU at the UN. Particular attention has been paid to the issue of the EU’s resolution initiatives in UN human rights fora: the UNGA Third Committee and the HRC. The analysis focuses on resolution initiatives tabled by the Union, but also tackles the national initiatives of the EU Member States and the co-sponsoring of resolutions by the EU/Member States. It also explores the EU’s involvement in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Taking into account that the EU does not formally participate in the UPR, the involvement of its Member States is analysed, also from the point of view of realisation of EU human rights priorities. This section also explains the notion of light-coordination. Finally, the fifth chapter explores the EU’s financial contribution to UN human rights activities, in particular to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. The deliverable is supplemented by four case studies included in chapter six of the deliverable. They are related to EU’s engagement in specific thematic topics at the UN covering the areas of: economic, social and cultural rights, human rights defenders, the right to development and counterterrorism. The final chapter presents the conclusions of the research. Due to the comprehensive nature of the analysis of the various dimensions of EU-UN interaction, the report seeks not only to advance the existing knowledge on the topic, but also to create a broad base for future research. In particular, the findings of this study will constitute the background for next deliverables of this work package on the Union’s engagement with regional multilateral organisations.