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Enhancing EU action to support universal standards for women’s rights during democratic transitions


Prof. Kalliope Agapiou-Josephides, EIUC Deputy-President, Jean Monnet Chair Holder  (2001) and Assistant Professor at the University of Cyprus.
Prof. Florence Benoit-Rohmer, EIUC Secretary General, Professor at the University of Strasbourg
This study is another ambitious research project that EIUC has been selected to draft by the European Parliament. In response to the challenging policy developments emerging from the Arab Spring, the thematic area of the study chosen is “women’s rights in democratic transitions”. The study’s responsible and coordinator is Prof. Kalliope Agapiou-Josephides (EIUC Deputy-President and Professor at the University of Cyprus). The Committee of experts, all chosen on the basis of their recognised knowledge on Islamic Law and Politics, is composed by Christina Kaili (EIUC – University of Cyprus), Roberta Aluffi (University of Turin), Leila Jordens-Cotran (Arab Dutch Law), Annette Juenemann (Helmut Schmidt Universitaet – Universitaet der Bundeswehr Hamburg), and Farida Bennani (University Cadi Ayad, Marrakech).
The study was conducted by following a comparative approach and focusing mainly on the Maghreb region.

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Protection of Human Rights in Natural Disaster Situations

Reference: EXPO/B/DROI/2010/14

Author: Horst Fischer

The briefing paper
(a) on a general level outlines the development of the debate on the importance and role of human rights perspective to natural disaster situations;
(b) accounts for the action so far taken at the UN and EU levels to integrate human rights to international relief efforts in natural disaster situations (and use interviews and examples where appropriate to highlight the level of human rights mainstreaming in the EU response to recent humanitarian crises; and
(c) defines possible courses of action for the European Union and, in particular, for the European Parliament to push forward a positive human rights agenda on these questions both on the EU level and internationally.
As the end result of this project is intended to serve as a concise policy briefing paper (based on a limited budget), it is understood that the treatment of these complex issues can not be comprehensive and that this project does not include field research on site.

The Role of Regional Human Rights Mechanisms

Regional human rights protection mechanisms constitute important pillars of the international system for the promotion and protection of human rights. At the current state five regional human rights mechanisms can be distinguished varying significantly from a very advanced human rights protection system to an emerging one. In the Council of Europe area, the European Court of Human Rights, the main human rights protection mechanism, has become a victim of its own success and due to its workload is struggling to remain efficient. The Inter-American system is well developed but the diverting political systems together with the non-permanent and not obligatory character of the Court threaten to undermine the political weight of the system. Even though all essential elements of an effective regional human rights mechanism are put in place in Africa, financial as well as professional support will be crucial to overcome some important structural constraints that affect its effectiveness. Even though the Arab Charter of Human Rights in 2004 and the establishment of the Arab Committee of Human Rights in 2009 are important steps in the Arab World, the Charter is in some parts inconsistent with international human rights standards, and it is doubtful whether the members of the Committee are sufficiently independent to address human rights issues effectively. Sub-regional mechanisms such as the ASEAN mechanism appear to be the most practicable solution in the Asia-Pacific region. However, no underlying human rights instrument such as a Declaration or Convention has been developed for the system so far, and the still predominant ASEAN thinking of limiting human rights discussion by reference to non-interference in internal affairs puts the effectiveness of this system in question.

Human Rights Mainstreaming in EU’s External Relations
Reference: EP/EXPO/B/DROI/2008/66

The research was undertaken by a team of independent academics and experts in the fields of human rights and the European Union, all of whom are associated with EIUC. It was supervised and conducted by:

Prof. Florence Benoît-Rohmer, EIUC Secretary General; Project Team Leader.
Prof. Horst Fischer, EIUC President; Director of Brussels Office, GIZ; Professor of International Humanitarian Law, Ruhr-University Bochum.
Dr. George Ulrich, EIUC Senior Research Fellow.
The study investigates the current status of human rights mainstreaming in EU external relations. The study takes its point of departure in a general survey of the concept of mainstreaming, building in part on experience generated within a UN context and taking into account similarities and differences between the UN and the EU. This is followed in Chapter II by a review of the relevant policy commitments and potential tools for human rights mainstreaming that have been put in place by the EU since 2001. The current status and impact of human rights mainstreaming is then examined in Chapter III with reference to three specific external relations policy areas, i.e. the CFSP/ESDP, development cooperation and trade, and migration and asylum policy. Two cases – one thematic related to human rights defenders and one regional concerning human rights policy vis-à-vis the Western Balkans – are investigated in Chapter IV in order to test the way in which human rights are mainstreamed at the intersection of different sectors and policy areas. In Chapter V considerations are presented on how the European Parliament can further contribute to enhancing the cause of human rights mainstreaming in EU external relations, and in conclusion a series of specific recommendations are presented in Chapter VI for the overall enhancement of EU human rights mainstreaming.

The Role of the European Union in the Human Rights Council

Reference: EXPO/B/DROI/2007/41

Prof Dr Jan Wouters- Director, Leuven Centre For Global Governance Studies and Institute for International Law, University of Leuven
Ms Sudeshna Basu- Doctoral Researcher, Leuven Centre For Global Governance Studies And Institute for International Law, University of Leuven
Prof Dr Nadia Bernaz – Director of Phd Programme, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland

Prof Dr Jan Klabbers- Director, Centre of Excellence in Global Governance Research, University of Helsinki
Prof Dr Iulia Motoc – Professor, University of Bucharest
Prof Dr Ludo Hennebel – Visiting Fellow, New York University, Global Law School Program
The European Union has and continues to place human rights and democracy at the heart of its external relations, namely through its activities in the UN human rights system. With the ongoing criticism about the inadequacies of the UN Commission on Human Rights Kofi Annan called to replace the ailing body with a new and more effective Human Rights Council. In light of the European Union’s desire to further human rights and democracy across the globe it promptly dedicated itself to play an active and visible role in the overarching UN human rights reform process.
The negotiations in establishing the Human Rights Council in addition to the deliberations in the mandated working groups to outline the details and modalities of the Council involved facing onerous and demanding conditions. The variance of opinions and positions not only led to a delayed inception but also generated concerns that the new Council would not be any more efficient or credible than its predecessor. Following its first operational year many have claimed that the first year has proven to demonstrate disappointing results by not taking more concrete action regarding countries facing dire human rights crises such as Zimbabwe. In contrast, others argue that in its first year the Council did manage to accomplish a number of achievements including the modalities of the Universal Periodic Review process, the review of UN Special Procedures, the adoption of the codes of conduct for mandate holders in addition to the adoption of a number of resolutions of great importance in the Council’s plenary.
The European Union actively participated in each phase and in all areas of the Human Rights Council from the setting up process to engaging in the sometimes arduous negotiations of both procedural and substantive matters. While it has indeed been successful in the workings of some areas the EU’s shortcomings have recently overshadowed its achievements. The following study explores the role of the EU in the Human Rights Council from the setting-up process to its contributions in the review of the UN Special Procedures, the UPR process and the plenary sessions since the Council’s inception. Following highlighting both the EU’s achievements and shortcomings the study concludes with five core recommendations that have the potential to help rectify the challenges currently faced by the European Union in the Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Records of the Members of the UN Human Rights Council

Reference: EP/EXPO /B/DROI/2007/42


Prof. Horst Fischer, EIUC President; Director of Brussels Office, GIZ; Professor of International Humanitarian Law, Ruhr-University Bochum.
Dr. George Ulrich, EIUC Secretary General.
Elisabetta Noli and Alberta Rocca, EIUC senior staff members.
Contributors for background research: Michelle Fialho Kierulf, Francesca Vietti, Sanja Tošić and Axel Hoffmann.

The study has been prepared with a view to provide a comprehensive and, as far as possible, objective overview of the human rights records of the members of the UN Human Rights Council by considering in a consistent manner the relevant UN and EU human rights sources. In terms of presentation, EIUC has developed a model format for country briefing notes which are easily readable and updatable.
Briefing notes for each country contain the following points of information:

A. Status of ratification/signature of human rights treaties: The table lists the dates of ratification (R), accession (A), or signature (S) by the country in question of the primary UN human rights treaties (CCPR, CESCR, CERD, CEDAW, CAT, CRC, CMW + Optional Protocols);
B. Status of reporting to human rights treaty bodies and bodies established by the relevant Optional protocols to human rights treaties: The two tables identify the status of reporting to human rights treaty bodies mentioning the dates of submission of relevant reports or the dates when reports are still due. The tables take into consideration reporting in relation to all primary UN human rights treaties (CCPR, CESCR, CERD, CEDAW, CAT, CRC, CMW + Optional Protocols);
C. Complaint procedures: The table identifies the position of the country in relation to individual complaints submitted to the relevant UN human rights treaty bodies;
D. Status of implementation of special procedures: The tables identify the reporting procedure with reference to the UN Charter-based special procedures, i.e. thematic procedures (28) or country procedures (if existent). For each thematic procedure the chart identifies the date of communications/urgent appeals or allegations transmitted by the relevant bodies (special rapporteurs, independent experts, working groups) to the country in question and indicates whether the country has issued a reply (R). The last table in this section provides information on whether the country has been selected for reporting on its general human rights situation (country procedure);
E. Pledges and commitments presented in support of candidacy: The table presents a synthetic overview of pledges and commitments made in connection with seeking election to the Human Rights Council;
F. Key issues: The table identifies key human rights issues emerging from the most important and recent (2005-to date) reports transmitted by the UN human rights treaty bodies and charter-based bodies (concluding observations, considerations of reports by state parties, communications). Considering the number and detail of the recommendations and observations included in the reports by treaty bodies and charter-based bodies, key issues have also been summarized at the beginning of each briefing note so to provide an immediate overview for the reader of the main areas of concern pertaining to the country in question;
G. EU assessments: As suggested in the tender specifications, the briefing notes have been further developed with a view to take into consideration EU institutional mechanisms, in particular EP resolutions and EU Council declarations addressing the human rights situation in the country in question. The table presents a summary of information extracted from such sources.
In annex to the study, a separate general chart presents the reservations made by each country member of the UN HR Council to the primary UN Human Rights treaties.

The Impact of the Resolutions and other Activities of the European Parliament in the Field of Human Rights outside the EU

This study was undertaken by a team consisting of Prof. Horst Fischer, Prof. Florence Benoit-Rohmer, Dr. George Ulrich, Mr. Sébastien Lorion and Amb. Klaus Metscher, with the assistance, inter alia, of Prof. Manfred Nowak, Prof. Wolfgang Benedek and Prof. Stelios Perrakis. It was finalised and submitted to the European Parliament in the autumn of 2006 and published by Marsilio Editori in early 2007 under the title Beyond Activism: The Impact of the Resolutions and Other Activities of the European Parliament in the Field of Human Rights Outside the EU (ISBN 978-88-317-9215-8).

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