Around 50 experts and civil society community representatives from Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova were brought together this week for a human rights conference hosted by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and its Moldovan National Platform. Experts were joined by major international NGOs, EU institutions and the Council of Europe for the conference, which took place on 19-20 September in the Moldovan capital Chisinau to discuss human rights challenges in Eastern Partnership countries and international mechanisms for the defence of human rights.
Participants took part in practical workshops on best practices in campaigning about human rights, networking and fundraising, and learned about European Court of Human Rights activities with EaP countries. They also discussed the current situation and heard about methods of monitoring human rights and protection in conflict zones. A second workshop highlighted ways of preventing human rights abuses through special educational programmes and ensuring media freedom and access to information.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) is a unique multi-layered regional civil society platform aimed at promoting European integration, facilitating reforms and democratic transformations in the six Eastern Partnership countries – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Launched in 2009 at the Prague Summit of the Eastern Partnership, the EaP CSF serves as a civil society and people-to-people dimension of this initiative aiming to bring European integration closer to citizens of the Eastern Neighbourhood. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum website
“We live in a world of seven billion people, with dramatic demographic imbalances, where inequalities are growing, where climate change is reshaping the land and the borders of human civilisations,” Mogherini said. “So it is up to us to build a new system for human mobility; human mobility has always existed in human history. But today the challenge is at a different scale. We need to build a system for human mobility. A system where people can move safely, legally, voluntarily, in the full respect of their human rights and in a sustainable way.”
Mogherini spoke at a UN Summit on refugees and migrants, stressing that “the European Union is finally turning words into action”. She also presented the European External Investment Plan in a separate event at the EU Delegation in New York, and addressed the link between security and development in a panel discussion hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative.
Her remarks came as the EU seeks solutions to the greatest flow of refugees since the Second World War. Yet Mogherini pointed out that the issue is a global one, with more refugees and migrants moving within Africa and within Asia than those coming towards Europe.
Mogherini underlined the work the EU is already doing to deal with the challenges of migration: since 2015, European vessels working within Operation Sophia have saved more than 400,000 people in the Mediterranean. In Turkey, in Lebanon, and Jordan, the EU is helping over half a million Syrian children go back to school.
She rejected the idea suggested by some observers that migration is a fight between the North and the South, between richer countries and developing ones.
“We do not believe in this. We, in the European Union, believe in partnerships. We believe we are together in this and that only together we can give real answers. There is no clash between the North and the South. In fact there is massive room for win-win solutions.”
“And win-win solutions cannot be imposed by one side on the other. They can only be agreed together. This is why we need a Global Compact. And in this field, our European Union is testing new tools and a whole new approach, finally. This is the core idea behind our new Partnership Frameworks of Migration Compacts as we have called them. From security to infrastructures, our priorities are set together with each of our partners, be them countries of origin or transit.”
She pointed to the newly-announced European External Investment Plan, which aims to bring more private investments into fragile areas of the EU’s neighbourhood and Africa. It aims to mobilise up to €44 billion euros to bring private investments in Africa and in the Mediterranean. And she pledged that the EU experience would be fed into a new Global Compact, which should draw on the knowledge of UN agencies, as well as the private sector, civil society, diaspora communities and migrants’ organisations.
“The new Compact has to respect the centrality of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. It has to champion the new development paradigm enshrined in the Agenda 2030. It must be a Compact for partnership and for shared responsibility globally. You can count on us, on the European Union to continue to work together for the success of this process, and to finally move towards a global governance of human mobility,” Mogherini concluded. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine will benefit from five new EU regional actions to support youth, small and medium-sized enterprises, maritime safety and border management in the Eastern Partnership. The actions will focus on four priority areas, including good governance, market opportunities, mobility and interconnections.
“Boosting economic development is one of the main priorities of the Eastern Partnership,”said Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn, announcing the package. “This new funding will strengthen the resilience of our partners and will support the necessary structural reforms in order to tap into new sources of growth, generating employment. This together with our continued support to social inclusion will bring tangible results to citizens’ lives.”
The five new regional cooperation projects will cover these priority areas:
- TheEU4Youth project will develop youth leadership and entrepreneurship through a variety of actions including capacity building, fellowships, support to policy dialogue as well as delivering grants to organisations active in these areas.
- The programmeIntegrating SMEs from the EaP countries into domestic and global value chains will help small and medium-size enterprises access new markets and boost economic development.
- Maritime safety, security and maritime environmental protection in the Black and Caspian Sea Regionswill support partner countries to implement relevant international legislation and improve their performance to protect maritime environment and maritime transport safety.
- Introduction of an Automated Intelligent Video-Control System at Road Border Crossing Point Novaya Huta – Novi Yarylovychi at the Belarus-Ukraine Frontieraims to reduce the time needed to carry out customs and border guard controls, and enhance countries’ capacity to prevent and fight cross-border crimes.
- TheENI East Global Allocation 2016 will support project cycle management, including the preparation, monitoring and follow-up of programmes, as well as activities in the field of information and communication.
The total EUR 37.3 million investment reflects the priorities agreed upon with the Neighbourhood East partner countries at the 2015 Riga Summit, as well as the provisions of the reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Through the ENP, the EU works with its southern and eastern neighbours to achieve the closest possible political association and the greatest possible degree of economic integration. This goal builds on common interests and on values — democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and social cohesion. The ENP is a key part of the European Union’s foreign policy. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
The European Union has doubled its assistance package for private sector development in Belarus. Increased support will be given for migration and asylum management, and independent higher education facilities, a press release from the European Commission said.
The new funding will cover four areas:
- To strengthen private sector development, assistance will aim to raise the competitiveness of regional enterprise and innovations. The programme will support the strengthening of local business advisory services and as a result increase the know-how of small and medium-sized enterprises. It will also provide additional support to access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and social enterprises.
- Assistance will be given to the Belarusian government to address the increasing numbers of migrants. Support will contribute to the development and implementation of a migration management strategy in line with international migrants’ rights and standards, including the construction or renovation of temporary migrant accommodation.
- Additional assistance will enable Belarus to strengthen institutions by supporting the implementation of structural and institutional reforms in key areas. The capacity of Belarusian public governmental institutions, state and semi-state enterprises for giving policy advice will be increased under the programme.
- The EU will also provide support to the European Humanities University based in Vilnius to support democratic developments in Belarus by providing independent higher education for young Belarusians.
The Belarusian assistance package has doubled from EUR 14.5 million in 2015 to EUR 29 million in 2016. The current funding comes through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), the main financial and cooperation instrument through which the funding is given to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries, including Belarus. (EU Neighbourhood Info)