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Speakers Conclude Debates on Diplomatic Protection, Geneva Convention Additional Protocols, Protection of Missions

During its forty-ninth session, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) had made great strides in its programme of work, including the finalization and adoption of three texts on secured transactions, arbitration and online dispute resolution, the Chair of the forty-ninth session told the Sixth Committee (Legal), as they took up that body’s report.

Gaston Kenfack Douajni (Cameroon), presenting the Commission report (document A/71/17), underscored the Commission’s adoption of the second edition of the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings, which were prepared with a focus on international arbitration.  He stressed that the Notes did not seek to promote any practice as best practice, but rather provided as a useful reference.

Highlighting the achievements of the Working Groups, he spoke of Working Group III (Online Dispute Resolution) developing its first instrument in the settlement of online disputes, which the Committee had adopted.  As well, Working Group I on Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises had prepared a legislative guide to assist States in crafting legal frameworks for legally recognized simplified businesses.

Working Group II on Dispute Settlements, meanwhile, had begun to prepare an instrument to enforce international commercial settlement agreements resulting from conciliation, he told the Committee.  Working Group IV, which addressed Electronic Commerce, had continued to address several topics related to cross-border insolvency, while Working Group V, on Insolvency Law, was creating a draft legislative text to provide solutions to facilitate the conduct of those insolvencies.

The Chair also emphasized the important role of UNCITRAL texts for States looking to modernize their international trade law regimes.  Many States, he noted, took actions on UNCITRAL texts, including ratification of treaties.  The Commission had developed effective working methods that were both efficient and inclusive.

The representative of the Dominican Republic, speaking for the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC), echoed the Chair, noting that the success of the Commission was linked to its inclusive nature.  The challenges facing the United Nations as it codified international trade law were increasing as the volume of global trade rose.  The Commission’s work should work alongside the dynamics of trade activities as closely as was possible.

The role of the Working Groups was praised by the representative of Honduras, who emphasized the importance of the work being done in the area of online dispute resolution.  Honduras was a signatory of the relevant Model Laws, and had launched an economic programme to double the number of jobs in strategic areas over the next five years.

During the Committee’s conclusion of its debate on the Secretary-General’s report on diplomatic protection (document A/71/93) and (document A/71/93/Corr.1), the representative of Togo noted that there were still questions related to the definition of diplomatic protection, as well as “discretion” regarding its exercise.  The representative of the Philippines, expressing similar views, noted that the exercise of such protection was a “delicate” matter and could be used as a pretext for interference in the affairs of other States.

The Committee also took up the report on the Status of Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflict (document A/71/183 and document A/71/183/Add.1).

The representative of Tunisia, speaking for the Arab Group, voiced his discontent with the current state of affairs in occupied Palestine and East Jerusalem.  The Geneva Convention was being directly violated by the transference of populations by Israel into occupied territories.  As the depository of the Geneva Convention, Switzerland should organize a Conference of the State Parties to assess the implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians during wartime.

“Civilians must not be used as cannon fodder,” the observer for the State of Palestine said, noting that Israel continued to cause suffering to the Palestinian people with impunity and, despite countless United Nations resolutions, the international community had failed to uphold international humanitarian law.  Echoing the words of the Arab Group, she emphasized the need for Switzerland to convene a meeting to consider measures to enforce the Convention.

However, the representative of Israel said that terrorist groups and non-State actors were violating international humanitarian laws by targeting civilians, among other things.  In the context of armed conflict with such groups, he vindicated the reservations of numerous countries, including Israel, to blur the distinctions within the Additional Protocols, including articles 1(4) and 44(3).  Furthermore, Israeli forces were trained to ensure that the balance between combating terrorism and protecting citizens was maintained to the greatest extent possible, he said.

Other delegations noted that norms of the Convention were not being followed, highlighting the alarming increase in the targeting of humanitarian aid and aid workers, and the impediment of delivery of humanitarian assistance, including medical and food supplies.  The representative of Australia pointed out that attacks on hospitals and humanitarian convoys were reminders to do more to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.

The Sixth Committee also considered the Secretary-General’s report on the Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/71/130).

Representatives participating in the debates were Mexico, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), Cuba, Switzerland, El Salvador, Peru, Lebanon, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Venezuela, United States, Liechtenstein, Iran, Algeria, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Finland, Brazil, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, China, Morocco, Ukraine and Singapore, as well as representatives from the Europe Union, International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross

The representatives of Syria and Ukraine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Sixth Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 October, to continue to discuss the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and take requests for Observer Status, as well as the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Statements on Diplomatic Protection

PABLO ADRÍAN ARROCHA OLABUENAGA (Mexico) said that an international convention on diplomatic protection should ensure that actions to exercise such protection did not intervene in the internal affairs of the State that had committed the international wrongful act.  That principle was contained in the comments on the draft article on diplomatic relations adopted at the International Law Commission (ILC) at its tenth session in 1958.  The principles that derived from State practice should be codified in the convention.  In addition, draft article 7 on the principle of predominant nationality was not sufficiently justified in the practice of States and could give rise to disputes.

FINTAKPA LAMEGA DEKALEGA (Togo), in regards to the draft articles on diplomatic protection, noted that his country was one of the few States that had responded to the General Assembly’s request and had submitted substantive observations on the articles.  There were still many questions relating to the definition of diplomatic protection and discretion regarding their exercise.  The draft articles offered a promising foundation for developing international law, he said, adding that despite reservations, those texts were moving correctly toward the future.  Still, further work was necessary before the international community could adopt the relevant convention.

IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines) stated that the exercise of diplomatic protection was a discretionary sovereign prerogative, but also a delicate matter, noting some regrettable instances where diplomatic protection had been misused as a pretext to intervene in another country’s affairs.  Under customary international law, the two main requirements for the exercise of diplomatic protection included the exhaustion of local remedies, and effective and continuous nationality.  In 2003, his country had enacted a dual nationality law, which could affect up to 10 million Filipinos living overseas and who had a second or third nationality.  In that regard, he voiced interest in the operationalization of the definition of “predominant nationality” under draft article 7.  Furthermore, draft article 18 was very important for the Philippines because of the number of seafarers the country had worldwide.  While recognizing the nationality of the flag State might also exercise diplomatic protection over them, the prerogative was complementary and not mutually exclusive.

Statements on 1949 Geneva Convention Additional Protocols

JUAN ÁVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) said that international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention and Protocols, was supposed to protect people.  He underscored efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which was working with States on draft laws that addressed missing and disappeared persons.  Armed forces should be helpful in identifying missing persons. 

In addition, given the new challenges of modern hostilities, consideration should be given on whether new laws should be made, he said.  A main challenge was ensuring that fighters respected the laws governing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians, including medical and food supplies.  As well, that respect must also be extended to include the safety of the humanitarian personnel delivering those supplies.  Armed attacks must be limited to military targets, he stated.

RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia), speaking for the Arab Group, voiced his “discontent” with the current state of affairs in occupied Palestine and East Jerusalem.  International humanitarian law emphasized the importance of protecting those who did not participate in armed conflict.  Yet civilians, including those who were sick or injured, as well as prisoners were being targeted by the illegal practices of the Israeli occupying Power.  In addition, the expansion of settlements, arbitrary detentions, and extrajudicial killings continued unabated while the international community did nothing.  The impunity enjoyed by Israel encouraged the continuation of the occupation.

Transferring populations into occupied territories was also a violation under the Geneva Convention and indeed all relevant international conventions, he went on to say.  It was time to translate those violations into action that would change the situation on the ground and guarantee the sovereignty of the State of Palestine over the territory occupied in 1967.  Also expressing concern at the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza, he called for an end to that inhuman siege.  The international community must abide by its legal and moral responsibility to put an end to Israel’s illegal policies and colonialist occupation.  In addition, the Swiss Government, in its capacity as depository of the Geneva Convention, should organize a conference of high-contracting parties to the Convention, to assess the implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1974.

ERIC CHABOUREAU, representative of the European Union, said that unfortunately, international humanitarian law was too often disregarded.  “Enhancing the protection of civilians must be our common goal”, he said, adding that at its thirty-second Conference, the European Union and its member States noted the adoption of resolution 1 on strengthening international humanitarian law protecting persons deprived of their liberty.

He went on to say that the European Union continued to support the International Criminal Court and the important role played by international criminal tribunals in promoting respect for international humanitarian law.  He urged Member States of the United Nations to accede to the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions.

PER THÖRESSON (Sweden), speaking for the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland), stressed there was a dire need to uphold the norms of international humanitarian law.  He noted that while the legal framework existed, the lack of respect for agreed rules was all too clear.  The ongoing attacks against medical facilities and personnel in conflict situations were appalling. 

He underscored the need for the protection of the delivery of health care, and commended the efforts of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in their work under dangerous conditions.  Condemning sexual and gender-based violence, he also noted the necessity of implementing a gender-sensitive approach.  He said that work must continue against impunity for serious human rights violations, and persons who had committed war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity must be held to account. 

CARRIE MCDOUGALL (Australia), also speaking for Canada and New Zealand, said States should strive to replicate the universal membership of the Geneva Conventions so that the protections of international human rights law were applied by all parties to all armed conflicts at all times.  States that had not yet become parties to the three Additional Protocols were encouraged to do so as soon as possible. 

Recent events – such as attacks on hospitals and humanitarian convoys, siege warfare and indiscriminate attacks on civilians – were reminders that the international community must do more to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law, she said.  Recalling Security Council resolution 2286 (2016), she also noted that ensuring strengthened compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to armed conflict must be a priority.  All States should work closely to address pressing challenges to international human rights law.

TANIERIS DIÉGUEZ LA O (Cuba) pointed out that international humanitarian law was being violated in many ways, including through the killing of innocents and the systematic destruction of infrastructure.  Confirming her country’s strong commitment to international humanitarian laws, particularly the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols, she voiced her opposition to attempts by certain countries to reinterpret those rules in order to avoid having to comply with them.  The moral foundation that brought the international community together in combating international terrorism and transnational crime was the same moral foundation that underlay international humanitarian law.  The use of highly sophisticated weapons, such as drones, did not comply with obligations under international laws and humanitarian ideals could not be used as pretexts for not abiding by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

DAMARIS CARNAL (Switzerland), expressing concern at the growing number of attacks on infrastructure and medical personnel, as well on the wounded and sick, said that the systematic nature of those attacks indicated a deliberate strategy by many parties involved in armed conflicts.  Recalling that her country was the depository of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols, she underscored the importance to achieving universal ratification of those instruments.  “The time had come for universal ratification,” she stressed, encouraging State parties to Additional Protocol I, if they had not already done so, to recognize the competence of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, established under article 90 of that Additional Protocol.

She also recalled that important resolutions to improve implementation of and compliance with international humanitarian law had been adopted by consensus at the thirty-second International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.  There, States had pledged to take part in intergovernmental processes with the aim of reaching an agreement on the features and functions of a forum of States on international humanitarian law.  In addition, there had been a focus on finding ways to enhance implementation by using the potential offered by the Conference and regional forums.  Switzerland, she said, would continue to play an active role in the process of strengthening the protection offered by international humanitarian law to persons deprived of their liberty.

HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador), associating his delegation with CELAC, said that it was important to implement the Additional Protocols concerning the victims of armed conflict.  The item was topical because of the need to protect victims and all those not participating in hostilities.  He noted that, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the peace agreement in El Salvador, his country continued to live up to its obligations.  On a national platform, the El Salvador International Humanitarian Committee functioned as an advisory body to disseminate humanitarian information, identify cultural property and support institutional strengthening.

ANGEL HORNA (Peru), associating his delegation with CELAC, said that Peru had continued its policy to ensure the application of international humanitarian law and the provisions in those treaties to which it was a party on a national platform.  Peru had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, which provided that States would not authorize transfer of weapons if it knew those weapons could be used to commit genocide or crimes against humanity.  His Government had also established a national plan to combat gender-based violence, as well as measures that dealt with persons who had been subjected to enforced disappearance.  He highlighted that Peru’s Ministry of Education had created a multi-year plan for victims of violence in Peru, with the intent of providing compensation through education for victims.  In addition, its Ministry of Health had adopted a technical document that concerned mental health care for persons affected by violence from 1980-2000. 

YOUSSEF HITTI (Lebanon), recalling that his country had ratified the four Geneva Conventions in 1951 and two Additional Protocols in 1997, emphasized the significance of upholding the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.  In 2010, his country had established the International Humanitarian Law Committee to follow up on the incorporation of international humanitarian law into its national legislation.  Ten years ago, Lebanon had suffered a 33-day aggression by Israel, which had shown “total disregard for international humanitarian law”, he said, adding that most of the victims had been civilians.  In Palestine, the situation was increasingly deteriorating, with the occupying Power continuing to blatantly violate its obligations under international law.  The Security Council must ensure the full compliance by Israel of the Fourth Geneva Convention and other relevant international law provisions.  He also echoed the call by the Arab Group to convene a conference to follow up on the declaration adopted at the conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2014.

AHILA SORNARAJAH (United Kingdom), aligning herself with the European Union, emphasized that international human law protected innocent victims from the impact of armed conflict.  Thus, it was tragic that those laws were being ignored both by State and non-State actors.  Calling for better compliance with the existing framework, she welcomed the outcome of the thirty-second International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.  Underscoring that ICRC played a key role, she paid tribute to the courageous work they did in dangerous environments.  It was a matter of grave concern that their emblems were not being honored and humanitarian workers were being killed while trying to administer relief.  Reaffirming her country’s commitment to ending sexual violence in conflict, she added that the United Kingdom continued to support the International Criminal Court; ending impunity was essential to building a safer world.

ABEL AYOKO (Nigeria) said that his country had been making “genuine efforts” to comply with international humanitarian laws, despite the state of its current security challenges.  All detainees from confrontations between Nigerian security forces and Boko Haram terrorists had been treated in accordance with national and international law, he said, adding that those accused faced court trials, and anyone acquitted was released.  The Government had also been organizing trainings to inform security forces on the need to abide by the rules of engagement in armed conflicts.  Nigeria would continue to comply with international humanitarian laws in its fight against terrorists, as it was the only way the “pathetic situation of victims of armed conflict can be ameliorated”, he stated.  Still, his country needed more international cooperation to completely defeat Boko Haram, he said, underscoring that the war against terrorism could only be achieved through the determined resolve of all Member States.

ISAÍAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJÍAS (Venezuela), aligning himself with CELAC, stated that his country was party to the main international legal instruments and had incorporated them into domestic law.  Recognizing the objective and responsible work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent as independent organizations providing protection to the victims of armed conflict, he urged that due priority should be given to disseminating information regarding State parties’ obligations contracted under international legal instruments.  Condemning the growing number of attacks on humanitarian personnel, he urged Member States to guarantee protection of such personnel.  At the same time, humanitarian agencies must abide by international humanitarian law, the laws of the countries where they worked, and cultural values.

FINTAKPA LAMEGA DEKALEGA (Togo), noting that that his country had ratified the Additional Protocols, stated that Togo’s legal corpus reflected great respect for the cardinal principles of international humanitarian law, such as distinguishing between different groups as well was the principles of proportionality and humanity.  In addition, his country had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty and the conventions prohibiting chemical weapons and anti-personnel mines.  As well, Togo was party to 21 legal instruments relating to international humanitarian laws.  Urging more States to ratify the Additional Protocols, he drew attention to the problem of sexual violence during conflict.  He stressed that his country was committed to applying international humanitarian law, not merely ratifying instruments, and that unconditional commitment was evident on the ground where Togo was active in peacekeeping missions.

EMILY PIERCE (United States) emphasized that the United States continued to ensure that all of its military operations conducted in connection with armed conflict complied with international humanitarian law.  Referring to the discussion on the previous agenda item, where the United States Government announced its intent to seek its Senate’s advice and consent to ratifying Additional Protocol II, she said that the treaty was currently pending before that legislative chamber.  She also noted that her country was committed to complying with its obligations under the law of armed conflict, including obligations to protect civilians.  Heightened policy standards that were more protective of civilians than otherwise required by law were being imposed.  She also stated her support for the ongoing work of the Montreux Document Forum, adding that her country would continue to engage with the Forum to support regular dialogue and outreach.

JÖRN EIERMANN (Liechtenstein) expressed his concern regarding the “blatant disrespect” for international humanitarian law in various parts of the world.  Just recently, there had been an appalling incident of gross violations of the rule of war in Yemen, with massive loss of life.  A downward trend that undermined well-established rules was evident, he said, stressing that “we should not have to speak about attacks against aid convoys, medical facilities or schools.” Ratifications of the Geneva Conventions entailed an obligation to act, in particular with regard to the obligation to hold those who commit serious violations to account.  Governments must abide by the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.  He emphasized that it was “hard to imagine” how the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas could comply with international humanitarian law, acknowledging an ongoing debate as to whether new standards were necessary.  While his country had agreed on some important resolutions at the thirty-second International Conference, he said it was disappointing that States could not agree on a voluntary compliance mechanism.

SEYED ALI MOUSANI (Iran) stated that international humanitarian law was one of the key achievements of the human civilizations, and by providing a comprehensive body of rules for the protection of non-combatants and civilians, the Geneva Convention was indispensable in minimizing the negative effects of armed conflict.  Implementation, however, remained a challenge.  As a signatory to the 1979 Additional Protocols, his country had made constant efforts to promote and publicize knowledge of humanitarian norms, including among armed forces.  In 2006, Iran had organized a conference identifying the synergies between contemporary international humanitarian law and Islamic thought, and had established a centre to study the topic.  The second international conference would be organized in 2016, and would focus on common humanitarian values in world religions, and the role of religion in humanitarianism.

MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), aligning himself with the Arab Group, stated that his country had a “special history with the Geneva Conventions” and recalled that during his country’s war of independence, the National Liberation Front had argued as early as 1956 that article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions applied to the conflict.  In addition, Algeria had appeared on the list of States parties to the Geneva Conventions as having ratified instruments in June 1960, more than two years before its independence.  He also echoed the request of the State of Palestine to convene the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Convention, to examine measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  It was regrettable that, despite the existence of a cross-regional critical mass of support for such a conference, it had not been convened due to a small number of States parties which had expressed their opposition.

AMIT HEUMANN (Israel), while expressing concern regarding certain key provisions of the Additional Protocols, underscored that compliance with the laws of armed conflict was of high importance.  With violent extremism on the rise, the challenges of armed conflict were becoming more urgent and non-State adversaries did not consider themselves bound by those laws.  The world had witnessed terrorists who violated international humanitarian laws by targeting civilians and embedding themselves and their weapons among their own civilian populations.  In the context of armed conflict with terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, those practices had been part of Israel’s reality for decades.  Because of that, he vindicated the reservations of numerous countries, including Israel, to blur the distinctions within the Additional Protocols, including articles 1(4) and 44(3).

Israeli forces were trained to ensure that the balance between combating terrorism and protecting citizens was maintained to the greatest extent possible, he said.  While acknowledging ICRC’s efforts to publish updated interpretations of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols, he noted that the recently published commentary to the First Geneva Convention raised some serious concerns and he stressed the importance of consulting with States and receiving their input.  In response to comments made by other delegations previously about his country, as well as comments that might be made, he stressed that those delegations’ focus on Israel distracted from addressing the real atrocities being committed throughout the Middle East, and that those speakers did not mention Hamas, the Saudi bombardments, atrocities in Syria or actions by Hezbollah.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), expressing concern about the recurring reports of violations of international humanitarian law by State and non-State actors in occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, and elsewhere, stressed the need for holding perpetrators accountable.  There were a number of built-in mechanisms within the existing international humanitarian law regime that needed to be invoked and implemented.  In lieu of working on further innovations, it was necessary to understand how to use the existing mechanism and recalibrate efforts towards international humanitarian law compliance.  His delegation also demanded unqualified international humanitarian law compliance in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and called on the Government of Switzerland to convene a Conference of High-Contracting Parties to consider that issue.  It was also crucial to strengthen the role of women and girls and ensure that sexual violence was not used as a tactic of war.

SONG MIYOUNG (Republic of Korea) highlighted the need to improve compliance to international humanitarian law and to protect the victims of conflict and emergency situations.  She underscored the need to uphold commitments, remain vigilant and ensure that parties to armed conflict respected international humanitarian law.  Investigations into breaches of that law should be carried out and perpetrators held accountable in order to put an end to impunity.  She further noted that responsibility should not be avoided in order to prevent humanitarian suffering in the first place.  In addition, more efforts should be made to prevent, contain and settle conflicts, and ease the plight of innocent civilians, including women and children.

REEM JULIA MANSOUR, observer for the State of Palestine, underscored that, because of Israel’s belligerent occupation of nearly half a century, the Palestinian people knew only too well the pain and turmoil of armed conflict and refugee crisis.  Despite countless United Nations resolutions, the international community had failed to uphold international humanitarian law, breaching the intent of the Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols.  Israel continued to cause suffering to the Palestinian people with absolute impunity.  More efforts were needed to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and to ensure compliance with the restrictions on military conduct and protections for civilians, as provided by the Convention.

The State of Palestine, she went on to say, had repeatedly appealed for protection for its people, and various United Nations reports had documented their suffering.  “Civilians must not be used as cannon fodder,” she said, adding that and as a State Party to the Convention and its Additional Protocols, the State of Palestine requested Switzerland to convene a meeting of the High-Contracting Parties to consider measures to enforce the Convention.  She also called on the international community to consider providing the Palestinian people with protection until the end of the occupation.

JUSTINAS ŽILINSKAS, of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, said that the General Assembly, through resolution A/55/148, had called upon all States to make the declaration on acceptance of the Commission’s competence under article 90.  Although the total number of States that had made such a declaration currently amounted to 76, more States must join in order to guarantee an equitable geographic representation.  He voiced hope that the General Assembly and the Security Council would make use of the Commission’s services, reiterating that it would be helpful to receive comments from Member States and United Nations organs as to why they have not yet done so.  The Commission remained the only permanent international mechanism specializing in international humanitarian law, he stated.

STEPHANE OJEDA, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the ongoing suffering and destruction in armed conflicts called for decisive steps to strengthen international humanitarian law. He called upon States who had not yet done so to ratify the two Additional Protocols.  The principal cause of suffering was not the lack of rules, but “insufficient respect for the law”, he said.  There were areas, however, in which existing rules of international humanitarian law were, in fact, insufficient, especially in the case of the protection of persons deprived of their liberty in non-international armed conflicts.

In consultations with States, he went on to say, ICRC had identified four areas that needed strengthening, including conditions of detention; protection of vulnerable groups; grounds and procedure for internment; and detainee transfers.  The Red Cross had also supported States with tools to better implement international humanitarian law domestically.  For example, in March, it had published a revised commentary on the First Geneva Convention, providing States with updated interpretations of fundamental humanitarian norms.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that his country was one of the founding members of the United Nations.  Referring to remarks made by the representative of Israel about Syria, he said that to characterize his country with cheap propaganda was a violation of the diplomatic code of conduct.  He also stressed that Israel was occupying the territories of others, refusing to comply with United Nations resolutions, and expelling citizens from their territories.  The list of Israel’s violations was very long.

Statements on Protection of Diplomatic Missions and Representatives

JUAN ÁVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of CELAC on the consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, emphasized that the sanctity of diplomatic facilities were essential to the maintenance of international peace.  He condemned all violations against diplomatic and consular missions and their representatives, as well as violations to intergovernmental and international organizations.

Each transgression was a grave incident that could jeopardize the lives and safety of officials, he went on to say.  In no circumstances could those transgressions be met with impunity.  He also noted the inviolability of diplomatic archives, and the negative impact of State surveillance on communications.  Referring to the Vienna Conventions of 1961 and 1963, he stressed that States must ensure that national legislation is in conformity with international law in that area.  Lastly, he urged States that had not yet done so to become a part of the Vienna Convention.

ERIC CHABOUREAU, representative of the European Union, urged all States to strictly enforce the provisions of international law governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.  He strongly condemned attacks against the official residence of the ambassador of Iran in Tripoli, Libya, and against the embassies of the United Arab Emirates and Iran in Sana’a, Yemen.  Receiving States had a special responsibility to protect embassies and consulates under the two Vienna Conventions.  Special attention had to be given to threats posed by terrorists forcing States to shut down their diplomatic facilities, as had happened in Libya and Yemen.  He called upon all States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the two Conventions.

NIINA NYRHINEN (Finland), speaking for the Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), voiced concern that diplomatic agents kept falling victim to attacks in receiving States.  Noting that the Secretary-General’s report had indicated increasing numbers of State parties to relevant conventions, she appealed to all States who had not yet done so to become party to those instruments.  An obligation to protect foreign emissaries was one of the cornerstones of the international legal system.  It was universally recognized that the receiving States had an obligation to protect diplomatic and consular representatives.  That also extended to representatives of intergovernmental organizations.  In addition, there was a need for close cooperation on security matters at the national and international level.

ROLANDO VERGARA ZITO (Cuba), aligning himself with CELAC, said he was concerned about reports of violations of archives and communications of diplomatic and consular missions.  Condemning such acts, he called on all Member States to adopt and implement all relevant conventions.  “In the Internet era, we cannot turn a blind eye to the use and abuse of communication technologies,” he said, expressing concern about recent revelations about some diplomatic facilities being used as a base for surveillance and collection of data.  Such practices resulted in the subversion and internal destabilization of other countries.  Cuba had a multi-layered system for providing security and protection to diplomatic corps, and guaranteed full protection to all diplomatic officers and personnel.

PATRICK LUNA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC, said that he was concerned that the increased number of serious situations involving violations of diplomatic and consular immunities, which had been reported by the press worldwide, had not found their way into the compilation prepared by the Secretary-General’s report.  That under-reporting pointed to a need to update the current reporting mandate.  He also noted that diplomatic archives should be inviolable, as should official correspondence, according to the Vienna Conventions.  Emphasizing that although communication methods were no longer dependent on physical support and could circulate through technologically sophisticated channels, it remained beyond doubt that diplomatic and consular communications, archives and documents should be protected both online and offline.  He said that Brazil was pleased that the matter was addressed in General Assembly resolution 69/121.

MAXIM V. MUSIKHIN (Russian Federation) said he was disturbed that, despite the fact that international law gave special responsibility to the host country to take all appropriate measures to protect diplomatic staff and offices, there were constant attacks against them.  Two years ago, his country reported attacks on their Embassy in Kyiv.  He noted that the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine did not provide an appropriate response to those illegal actions, and that attacks on Russian diplomats and consular officers in Ukraine continued, sometimes with the direct participation of Ukrainian officials.  He underscored that information about those incidents had been conveyed to the Secretariat to include in the Secretary-General’s report. He noted that the situation was unacceptable, and asked that the Secretary-General keep the item monitored.

SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka) urged Member States to act together to ensure the safety of mission staff.  She pointed out that developing nations in particular faced difficulties bearing the financial costs of protecting their diplomatic missions.  A Sri Lankan diplomat had recently been physically attacked in a receiving State.  A few of the perpetrators had been apprehended, but there was still a need for effective prosecution and imposition of appropriate punishment.  It was important to also ascertain the “real motivation” behind the attack.  International cooperation must intensify to prevent future attacks, she emphasized.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), noting that some of her country’s missions and Government representatives had been the subject of attacks by hooligans and extremists, requested the Governments hosting those missions to take the necessary measures to hold the perpetrators accountable.  Not only was that trend affecting good relations between countries, it was also a demonstration of the degree to which international law governing inter-State relations was being undermined.  The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations clearly stipulated the inviolability of diplomatic missions and the persons of diplomats.  Diplomatic law had its foundation on the principle of reciprocity, and she stressed that her country expected its missions and representative to be accorded the same protections it provided to those it hosted.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) emphasized that, as a State Party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Affairs 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs 1963, his country was committed to ensuring due compliance.  The unprecedented terrorist attacks in July in a restaurant located in the diplomatic area in Dhaka had created some concern among the resident diplomatic and consular missions.  His country’s law enforcement agencies had already identified or apprehended the perpetrators of the attack and had dealt with them under the purview of the law.  Security coverage to diplomatic missions had also been increased.  Such measures had helped bring back the confidence of the Bangladesh people, as well as diplomatic officials and foreigners living and visiting the country.

MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria) strongly condemned any and all act of violence against diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, stressing it was an absolute prerequisite to respect the universally respected principles governing the diplomatic and consular relations.  His country was fully committed to its obligations under international law, particularly the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.   Acts that violate the Convention and other international law in his country were fully investigated and perpetrators brought to justice and properly sentenced.  He called for a prompt transmission of information, by the receiving State to the sending State, on the circumstances of the violations occurrence; eventual legal prosecutions against perpetrators should be shared with the sending State.  It was imperative that the receiving State take effective measures to prevent recurrence of such acts.

EMILY PIERCE (United States) stated that protecting the sanctity of ambassadors, other diplomats and consular official enabled them to carry out their vital functions.  It was also critical to protect diplomats from harmful acts by non-State actors.  Her country put an emphasis on enhanced security training and good personal security practices to help mitigate the risks that its personnel faced every day.  However, prevention was also facilitated by collaboration, and United States embassies overseas often worked with local law enforcement and other authorities to prepare for eventualities.  “All of us in this room have a stake in diplomatic protection,” she said, but the world also had a stake in it because diplomacy was the foundation of international relations.

ISAÍAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJÍAS (Venezuela) associating himself with CELAC and the statement to be made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said that he was aware of the importance of strict compliance with the Conventions that protected diplomatic and consular officials.  In Venezuela, the protection of diplomatic and consular agents was considered a highly relevant issue and the country had intensified its communication and cooperation in the matter.  Citizen security entities were charged with providing protection to diplomatic missions and consulates while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs served as liaisons.

HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador) said it was crucial to highlight that all States party to the Vienna Convention should fulfil the provisions of that instrument, including the provision that stipulated that measures should be taken to protect diplomatic missions from intrusion or damage.  He underlined that the provision assumed an obligation to improve security.  That did not mean just adopting legislation, but also prosecuting illicit acts.  El Salvador had created mechanisms to provide necessary protections, and had the cooperation of its national civil police.  He also said that his country had recognized that challenges remained and was supportive of ongoing discussion.

SEMHAR PATROS (Eritrea) said that diplomats attending multilateral forums should not face targeting or any form of intimidation.  States should adhere to the Vienna Convention.  Expressing concern over Member States that violated the sanctity of consular and diplomatic missions, she stressed that peaceful cooperation should be enhanced.  It was essential to diplomats that their functions were facilitated with all appropriate measures in order to fulfil their mandates, free of obstruction, fear and harm.

MOHAMED N. ALSUBAIE (Saudi Arabia) called for enhancing measures to protect the safety and security of diplomatic agents.  His country had taken many security measures to do that, whether in the capital or other cities.  Furthermore, it had established a permanent commission to ensure the safety of diplomatic premises and all diplomatic and consular officials.  Condemning recent aggressions against diplomatic officials in Teheran and Mashhad, he called them “glaring violations” of the Vienna Conventions, as well as international law.  He also called on all States who had not yet acceded to relevant international instruments to take every step to accede to those.

JI XIAOXUE (China) said that in recent years, Chinese embassies and consulates in several countries had suffered harassment, and even terrorist attacks, resulting in various degrees of damage.  She condemned such acts and called upon all countries to continue to step up the protection of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, as well as bring perpetrators to justice.  Her country had adopted domestic legislations such as regulations on diplomatic privileges and immunities, among others, in order to provide comprehensive and high-level safety and security to diplomatic and consular missions and representatives stationed in China.  At the same time, she reiterated that such protection could not be taken as license to abuse those privileges and immunities.

MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco) condemned any attack on a mission, adding that States must provide protection for their diplomatic and consular premises and staff.  In recent times, attacks had been reported, and there had been threats and intimidation of diplomats, which was unacceptable.  He underscored that the archive, diplomatic bag and communications must be respected.  One of Morocco’s priorities, he noted, was to protect diplomatic and consular missions and their staff, who were to be fully respected.  Relations between States should not forget the provisions of the Vienna Conventions, even if there was tension between them.

SEYED ALI MOUSANI (Iran), outlining the incidents at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Mashhad and Tehran in January, said that, following the news of the execution of Ayatollah Sheikh Bagher Nimr Al-Nimr, the prominent religious leader, there was an emotional outburst, as many found that action inhuman and unjustifiable.  Necessary practical measures and security and law enforcement was increased substantially in front of the premises of the Consulate General in Mashhad and the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran.  Despite such efforts, the spontaneous reaction by a crowd did cause some damages, and necessary arrangements were made for all Saudi diplomats to leave the country.  He underscored that Saudi agents were provided facilities to take care of the archives and documents left at the diplomatic and consular premises.  Furthermore, necessary arrangements were put in place to advance the prosecution of those persons involved in inflicting damage to the Saudi premises in Mashad and Tehran.  As well, a formal request was sent to the Saudi Government to grant access to the Iranian Judiciary to carry out an on-site visit to the premises to complete the investigation process.  Lastly, he underscored that Iran was determined to take all efforts need to hold responsible those involved in the incident.

Right of Reply

The representative of Ukraine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that his Government was committed to follow all its obligations regarding the protection of diplomatic officials and missions.  Condemning the situation that had taken place at the Russian Federation’s embassy, he added that it would be investigated and those responsible for that would be brought to account.  However, he also noted that since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, there had been “a massive number of attacks” against Ukrainian diplomatic missions and, in the past one year, there had been several attacks in Moscow, including on the Ukrainian cultural centre, which also had diplomatic immunity.

Introduction to Report

GASTON KENFACK DOUAJNI (Cameroon), Chair of the forty-ninth session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) said that the Commission had finalized and adopted three texts on secured transactions, arbitration and online dispute resolution.  It had also heard progress reports from its Working Groups, deliberated on the technical assistance and coordination activities carried out by its Secretariat, and discussed the role of the Commission in promoting the rule of law.

He also noted that the Commission adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on Secured Transactions, which dealt with security interests in tangible and intangible movable property.  The Model Law was intended to address the main problem of secured transactions laws around the world. It included a set of Model Registry Provisions, which dealt with the registration of notices of security interests in a publicly accessible registry.  The Law was expected to have a positive impact on the availability and cost of credit, especially for micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises in developing countries, as well as assist market inclusion and alleviate poverty, he said.

The Commission had adopted the second edition of the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings, which were prepared with a focus on international arbitration, he went on to say.  It was intended to be used in a general and universal manner, regardless of whether the arbitration was administered on an ad hoc basis or by an arbitral institution.  He stressed that the Notes did not seek to promote any practice as best practice, but rather serve as a useful reference.

He noted that the Committee had also adopted its first instrument in the settlement of online disputes, as part of Working Group III, whose objective was to develop a document describing the essential elements of a settlement process online arising from international sales contracts or services involving small amounts.  The document of technical notes on the settlement of online disputes offered an answer to the growing need for mechanisms to resolve such disputes, and helped users of such mechanisms, whether practitioners or litigants.

He added that Working Group I on Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized enterprises, which aimed at reducing the legal obstacles encountered by such businesses, had made progress in recognizing their importance in the global economy, and in particular, in the economies of developing countries.  The Group was preparing a legislative guide to assist States in crafting an appropriate legal framework for the fast and inexpensive creation of legally-recognized simplified businesses.  Working Group II, which focused on dispute settlement, had embarked on the preparation of an instrument to deal with the enforcement of international commercial settlement agreements resulting from conciliation.

In the field of electronic commerce, he added, Working Group IV had made progress in preparing a Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records facilitating the dematerialization of key commercial documents such as bills of lading, promissory notes, bills of exchange and warehouse receipts.  Cloud computing, identity management and trust services had been identified as future topics for that Working Group.  Continuing to address several topics relating to cross-border insolvency, Working Group V was developing a draft legislative text that provided innovative solutions to assist and facilitate the conduct of such insolvencies.

The Commission, he added, had reaffirmed the existing mandates for five of the Working Groups and had decided not to undertake any new legislative activity in addition to those in the coming year.  Turning to technical assistance, he added that while support activities to ensure the effective use of UNCITRAL’s texts were an important part of the Commission’s work, the financial resources for such activities were limited.  He appealed to all States, international organizations and other stakeholders to consider making contributions to the Trust Fund for that purpose.

He also spoke on a number of other areas, including the subject of technical assistance and coordination, noting that support activities to ensure the effective implementation and use of UNCITRAL texts constituted an important pillar of the Commission’s work.  However, financial resources were limited and dependent on the contributions of Member States.  He appealed to States, international organizations and other stakeholders to make contributions to the Trust Fund for that purpose.

He then turned his remarks to the promotion of ways and means of ensuring a uniform interpretation and application of UNCITRAL legal texts.  As a means of promoting ways to ensure a uniform interpretation and application of UNCITRAL legal texts, the Commission had noted with appreciation the increasing volume of materials available in the CLOUT (Case Law on UNCITRAL texts) database.  CLOUT was an important tool that would need further resources to sustain it, he said, appealing to all States to assist in its funding.

He noted that States around the world were increasingly looking to UNCITRAL texts when reforming or modernizing their international trade law regimes.  The Commission also took note of actions taken by States on UNCITRAL texts, which included signature or ratification of treaties and adoption of model laws.  While many were based on States’ initiatives, many others were facilitated through assistance from the UNCITRAL Secretariat.

Pointing out that UNCITRAL would be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary next year, he said that the Commission and its Working Groups had developed highly effective working methods and a negotiation culture that was most efficient and inclusive.  In that way, he emphasized, UNCITRAL had been faithfully pursuing its mandate of progressively harmonizing and modernizing international trade law.

NAPOLEON BERAS (Dominican Republic), speaking for CELAC, said the success of UNCITRAL as the core legal body of the United Nations system in that sector, was linked to its inclusive nature, especially developing countries, and improved conditions conducive to the extensive development of international trade.  Those inclusive working methods since this harmonization, unification and progressive development guaranteed international trade law, respect for the principal of the sovereign equality of States, and given the texts emanating from it, a worldwide acceptance.

He also said he supported including the reform of the investor-State dispute settlement system in the Commission’s future work agenda.  It would be timely to consider the issue at a multilateral level to avoid the development of a fragmented system.  The challenges facing the United Nations as it codified international trade law were increasing over time as the volume of global trade increased, technology evolved and business activities became more diversified.  The Commission’s work should go along with the dynamics of trade activities as closely as possible.  “We know and are aware that the challenge is not simple; trade activities exceed in speed our efforts of codification,” he said.  Progress made would help establish clear rules to ease the exchange of goods and services.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with CELAC, commended the Working Groups for carrying out their important work and noted her country was participating actively in the work of the Commission.  Highlighting the intensive work being done by the Commission in areas such as online dispute resolution, which had taken on great importance in the era of globalization, she added that the General Assembly had recognized the many benefits of the use of conciliation.  Honduras was a signatory of the relevant Model Laws as well as the relevant conventions, and had launched a national economic development programme which was seeking to double the number of jobs in strategic areas of production over the next five years.

NATALIE Y. MORRIS-SHARMA (Singapore) said that her country, while actively promoting the harmonization of trade laws on the basis of UNCITRAL instruments, supported the decision to give priority to the current work of Working Group II on Dispute Resolution for the preparation of an instrument addressing enforcement of international commercial settlement of agreements resulting from conciliation.  She was encouraged by progress made by Working Group V on the draft model law on recognition and enforcement of insolvency-related judgements and on steps taken to ensure coordination with the work of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.  She said she looked forward to Working Group VI’s completion of a guide to enactment for the Model Law on Secured Transactions.

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Capital Markets Union: New Rules To Support Investment In Venture Capital And Social Enterprises

The European Commission has today proposed amendments to the European Venture Capital Funds (EuVECA) and the European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF) regulations, marking another step towards the creation of the Capital Markets Union. Today’s proposal aims to make it easier and more attractive for investors to invest in small and medium-sized innovative companies and social projects. In particular, the Commission is proposing to open up EuVECA and EuSEF funds to fund managers of all sizes, and to expand the range of companies that can benefit from venture capital funds. The Commission also aims to make the cross border marketing of EuVECA and EuSEF funds cheaper and easier by explicitly prohibiting fees levied by Member States and simplifying registration processes, in order to increase the number of managers, funds, and investments in venture capital and social enterprises. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Today we are removing another barrier to investment at EU level which is a key objective of the Investment Plan for Europe. The three main changes we are proposing to the EuVECA and EuSEF regulations today – broadening the scope of eligible managers; expanding the list of EuVECA eligible assets; and prohibiting fees imposed by competent authorities – will result in a greater number of SMEs getting access to the vital finance they need to grow their businesses.” Commissioner Jonathan Hill said: “This proposal is part of the package of measures in the CMU Action Plan to strengthen venture capital markets. This proposal will build up scale, diversity and choice for investors, venture capital and social enterprises. Other actions foreseen include the launch of a large-scale fund-of-funds, blending EU and private capital, to support investment in innovative companies across the whole EU.” Today’s proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for adoption under the co-decision procedure. Today at 12:30 CET, a press release and memo will be published, and a statement by Commissioner Hill can be watched on EbS. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)  

 

European Commission announces €145 million in humanitarian aid for 7 countries in Africa’s Sahel region

During a visit in Niger today, Commissioner Stylianides will announce €145 million in EU humanitarian assistance for the Sahel region in 2016 to address the basic needs of the populations, tackle malnutrition and provide food to the most vulnerable people. “Saving lives continues to be the EU’s first priority in Niger and the Sahel region. Our new humanitarian funding will provide essential nutrition and health treatment to young children and their mothers, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as training and support to health centres. The EU is working hand in hand with humanitarian organisations to help the most vulnerable”, said Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who will visit EU funded aid projects in Niger. A significant amount, totalling €29 million will be allocated to the most vulnerable in Niger. The country is facing persistent acute food insecurity, child malnutrition and the displacement of people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring Mali and Nigeria. Overall, funding will be provided to those in need in 7 countries: Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad and Cameroon. Read the full press release here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

President Juncker addresses Asia-Europe Business Forum

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Investment Plan for Europe: new EFSI deals signed in Greece and Spain

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Commission publishes further TTIP documents in ongoing transparency commitment

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Annual Agri-food trade report 2015: EU first exporter worldwide

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EUROSTAT: Sommet Asie-Europe – les partenaires ASEM ont représenté en 2015 plus d’un tiers du commerce de biens de l’UE, déficit de l’UE de 277 milliards d’euros

En 2015, les 21 pays non-AELE participant au Sommet Asie-Europe (ci-après dénommés partenaires ASEM) comptaient ensemble pour 37% des échanges internationaux de biens de l’Union européenne (UE), avec une part des partenaires ASEM s’établissant à 29% pour les exportations de l’UE et à 46% pour ses importations. Sur la décennie 2005-2015, l’UE a constamment accusé un déficit commercial, toujours nettement supérieur à 200 milliards d’euros, avec les partenaires ASEM. En 2015, il se situait à 277 milliards d’euros, en baisse par rapport au pic de 320 milliards d’euros enregistré en 2008. Un communiqué de presse EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

Quarterly Report on the Euro Area published today

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs today publishes its Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA), featuring in-depth technical analyses of economic issues affecting the euro area. In this edition, staff economists look at the role of cross-border risk sharing, both through financial and labour market incomes generated across borders and through cross-border fiscal transfers, in mitigating asymmetric shocks, and compare the situation in the euro area to that of the United States. Other sections examine the mechanisms through which financial systems affect the real economy and confidence spill overs in the euro area. QREA Vol.15 No.2 will be published today at 15.00. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

Raw materials: Commission highlights need for security of supply and investment*

Today the Commission is publishing the first Raw Materials Scoreboard prepared by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), under the responsibility of Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. The Scoreboard provides a comprehensive set of indicators on both primary and secondary raw materials. It highlights the need to address the EU’s growing skills shortage, innovation needs and its import-dependency, providing valuable information for policy decisions. Speaking at a meeting of the High-Level Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials this morning, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: The supply and affordability of raw materials are of strategic importance for the future of the European economy and society. With the European Innovation Partnership, the raw materials community has taken important steps towards increased security of supply and a more circular economy. Today, we made the case for the need to support investment in the field of raw materials, in particular for start-ups and SMEs trying to optimise their resource use. The meeting was organised by the European Commission as part of its efforts to secure a sustainable supply of raw materials for Europe and to boost investment into the raw materials and recycling sectors. The group, which is composed of representatives of the industry, NGOs, researchers, ministers and the Commission, adopted a’Strategic Evaluation Report’ on future priorities in the area of raw materials. The group also presented a voluntary ‘Declaration of Support’ for the setting up of a European Investment Platform on Raw Materials and Recycling for start-ups, brought forward by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials, under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). More information regarding the ‘Strategic Evaluation Report’ and the ‘Declaration of Support’ on the websites of DG Grow and JRC. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Innovation performance compared: How innovative is your country?

Today, the Commission released the 2016 results of the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer. The main findings of the three reports are that Sweden is once again the innovation leader, Latvia has become the fastest growing innovator, and EU innovation is catching up with Japan and the US.By boosting private investment and improving the framework conditions for innovation, the EU has the potential to lead in innovation at the global stage.Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “I want Europe to be a place where innovative SMEs and start-ups flourish and scale up within the Single Market. This requires a concerted effort. At EU level, we need to simplify VAT regulation, adapt insolvency rules, make information on regulatory requirements more easily accessible and work on a clear and SME-friendly intellectual property framework. We also need to keep adapting the Single Market to ensure that innovative services such as the collaborative economy find their place.” Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, added: “Leading countries and regions are supporting innovation across a wide range of policies from investment to education, from flexible labour conditions to ensuring public administrations that value entrepreneurship and innovation. The Commission is doing its part by promoting innovation across policy areas too. Not only that, we’re also improving access to private finance through the €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe and the Capital Markets Union, as well as creating a new European Innovation Council.“Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “Smart specialisation strategies help Member States and regions capitalise on their competitive assets in Research & Innovation and find opportunities for cooperation between business and academia. As such, they are compasses for innovative, long-term investments supported by ESI Funds and, when possible, other EU sources of finance. This contributes greatly to Europe’s shift towards a knowledge-based economy.” For further details on the results and the Commission’s actions to support innovation, a press release, frequently asked questions, the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer are available online. (Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

European Commission appoints new Head of Representation in Lisbon

The European Commission has appointed Ms Sofia Colares Alves as the new Head of its Representation in Portugal. She will take up office on 16 July, bringing over twenty years of European and International affairs experience to the post. Ms Alves is an experienced lawyer and works for the European Commission since 2003, specialising in competition policy. She was a member of the Cabinet of former Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia (from 2010 to 2013), a Head of Unit in DG Competition (from 2013 until 2015) and since May 2015 was seconded to the Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) in Lisbon as Head of Cabinet advising the Board on all areas of competence of the PCA. Ms Sofia Colares Alves obtained a Law Degree from the University of Lisbon and a Master of European Legal Studies (LLM.) from the College of Europe in Bruges. A complete press release for Ms Sofia Colares Alves is available online, also in DE, FR and PT. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Dombrovskis visits Japan

Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, will visit Tokyo, Japan on 14 and 15 July. During this visit, he will participate in the 16th EU-Japan Symposium, delivering the opening address on the theme of contemporary social and employment issues. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Mr Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan; Mr Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister; and Mr Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Economic Revitalisation. Finally, he will meet representatives from the European Business Council. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Siobhan Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57367)

 

Commissioner Thyssen attends the Informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Labour Ministers will hold an informal meeting on 14 and 15 July 2016 in Bratislava, under the Council Presidency of Slovakia. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen. Ministers will focus their discussions around three main topics: ageing, digitalisation, and migration. They will discuss how these three key challenges impact Member States’ labour markets and social security systems and exchange experiences and policies to turn these challenges into opportunities for Europe. In this context, Commissioner Thyssen will highlight some of the emerging issues in its consultation on the European pillar of social rights, a key initiative to make social rights in Europe fit for purpose in the 21st century. The meeting will also include a field visit to a Slovak company, which has expanded its production and innovation in times of global competition and digitalisation. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 6225)

 

Commissioner Hogan on official visit to Slovenia

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, is today on official visit in Slovenia. Together with Mr Dejan Židan, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food for Slovenia, he visited this morning an educational farm in Poljane. In the afternoon, Commissioner Hogan and the Minister will meet with representatives of the consultative Council for Agriculture. This meeting will be followed by a joint press conference, after which they will visit a cheese dairy farm in Gorenja vas. From 2014-2020, the CAP will invest around €1.8 billion in Slovenia’s farming sector and rural areas. More information about the CAP in Slovenia can be found here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Commissioner Andriukaitis visits Montenegro

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis is visiting Montenegro today and tomorrow (14-15 July). Commissioner Andriukaitis will meet national authorities, including the Deputy-Prime minister and the ministers in charge of Health and Agriculture, with whom he’ll mainly discuss the recent (30 June) opening of the Chapter 12 (Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy) of the negotiations of accession. The Commissioner will underline the importance of this Chapter since it deals with the safety of food products, a topic of the highest concern for EU citizens and consumers. He will detail to his interlocutors how they can learn from previous negotiations in this area. On the occasion of the visit he said: “It is of the utmost importance that Montenegro follows as closely as possible its strategy for transposition and implementation of the EU acquis for this Chapter. Montenegro has a major task ahead since this is a very demanding area, but I’ll make sure that all the expertise needed will be pooled to help this country. A step-by-step harmonisation with EU standards will allow Montenegrin products to access the EU markets“. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

* Updated on 14/07/2016 at 14:44, adding “and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials”

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