India joined the European Union and held the 10th edition of the India-EU Human Rights Dialogue in New Delhi. Both the societies emphasised the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights as well as a mutual commitment to the universal human rights and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) that will come up at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva later this year.
The last dialogue was in April 2021 and the participants discussed their respective efforts and achievements corresponding to the various human rights issues over the last year. Exchanging views and concerns on civil and political rights India and the EU focused on the rights of persons belonging to minorities and vulnerable groups, women empowerment, children’s rights, LGBTQI+ rights, the rights of migrants and the use of technology in the area of democracy and human rights in an increasingly technological world as well as the importance of freedom of expression and opinion online and offline.
India and the EU communicated the need for greater engagement on human rights issues, based on internationally recognised human rights laws and standards. Both sides recognised the importance of strengthening national and international human rights mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights and the important role of national human rights institutions, civil society actors and journalists.
The dialogue highlighted India’s commitment and will to uphold human rights despite the recent controversies that have brought international focus on New Delhi. It signified that the rights issue will remain an important part of India’s diplomatic policy with the western countries, especially as India’s Universal Periodic Review is expected to take place in November at the HRC. The UPR is a unique process under which the human rights record of a country is subjected to review and comments from other member-countries and significant diplomatic activity is generated usually around the time of UPR. The UPR of India becomes more significant as India is one of the original supporters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was “proclaimed” by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.
Apart from that, both the sides updated each other on their implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The EU informed the Indian side of its recent initiatives on corporate sustainability due diligence. India updated the EU on the status of its first National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. A mutual agreement was made to deepen cooperation in the field of business and human rights for both India and EU.
Most importantly both sides “reiterated their commitment to multilateralism, including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, and the importance of enhancing cooperation on international fora in the field of human rights.”
Finally, India and the EU restrengthened their commitment to the shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights. The next round of the India-EU dialogues will happen next year.