The role of the United Nations and European Union in the protection of minorities in Pakistan

The European Union and the United Nations have a major role in the protection of human rights.

Let me start with the role of the European Union (EU)

The promotion of peace, security and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms are some of the values and objectives of the European Union.

If the EU treaties like the Charter of Human Rights ensures that the peoples of Europe, by establishing an ever closer union among themselves, share a peaceful future based on common values,

And that they declare that the EU is founded on the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity,

That the EU is based on the principle of democracy and the rule of law,

And that the EU places the person at the very heart of its action by instituting the citizenship of the European Union and creating an space of freedom, security and justice,

Then the EU also has a duty to ensure that its values are shared with its international partners.

One of its mechanisms is the GSP+ (Generalized System of Preferences).

It provides a wide range of tariff preferences for imports into the EU from vulnerable developing countries, in order to support poverty eradication, sustainable development and the participation of these countries in the global economy, as well as to strengthen good governance.

This preferential status is conditional on GSP+ countries demonstrating tangible progress in the implementation of the 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection, climate change and good governance.

The European Commission has confirmed that Pakistan’s status under the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) will remain in place until the end of 2023. To maintain its eligibility beyond that date, Pakistan will have to comply with a number of newly adopted GSP+ conditions for the period 2024-2034.

In 2022 we delivered a memorandum signed by over 20 European NGOs to Vice President Josep Borrell through the EEAS urging him to review Pakistan’s GSP+ status.

In September 2022, a conference organized under the auspices of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) at the Press Club in Brussels called on the European institutions to act on Pakistan’s persistent human rights violations, particularly with regard to blasphemy laws and disrespect for the presumption of innocence.

Given that Pakistan’s behavior clearly violates the obligation for GSP+ beneficiaries to ratify the 27 international conventions, we respectfully asked “how can the High Representative justify Pakistan’s continued GSP+ status?

I will now focus on the role of the United Nations (UN) in the protection of minorities in Pakistan.

The UN has implemented mechanisms to obtain resolutions or recommendations to urge member states to improve or change their internal human rights governance systems.

In January 2023 the UPR Working Group at its 42nd session reviewed Pakistan.

During this review, member states and NGOs were able to express their concerns and make recommendations to Pakistan to ensure that the rights of minorities are respected.

The Human Rights Council which we are attending today is an important place to bring Pakistan face to face with its obligations to respect the treaties it has signed like the ICCPR.

The Human Rights Committee is an important committee. UN experts and civil society can pressure Pakistan to comply with its commitments and to respect the articles of the Convention.

The 139th session of the Human Rights Committee, which will take place from October 9, 2023 to November 3, 2023, will review the issues for Pakistan.

The role of the European Union and the United Nations in the field of minority protection is to keep independent mechanisms and bodies free from external influence and to appoint independent experts and rapporteurs.

It is on this basis that the two institutions will be able to play their role in helping States to respect their commitments to human rights and in allowing civil society to make its voice heard so that these same rights are fully respected.

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