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UN human rights expert visits Brussels to assess EU response to the financial crisis

GENEVA / BRUSSELS (25 May 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky will undertake an official visit to Brussels from 30 May to 3 June 2016 to assess the impact of austerity policies and economic adjustment programmes on the enjoyment economic and social rights in the European Union. He will meet representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, National Human Rights Institutions and civil society.

“Europe continues to struggle with high levels of unemployment and increased poverty as a consequence of the financial and economic crisis,” said the Independent Expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the effects of foreign debt and other international financial obligations of States on human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.

“Economic reform is often unavoidable, but individuals and groups in situation of vulnerability, such as persons with disabilities, the unemployed, refugees, women, children and the elderly need to be protected,” Mr. Bohoslavsky stressed. “Adjustment policies should not undermine economic and social and rights within Europe.”

The expert will gather information on recent EU policies to fight unemployment, poverty and social exclusion and EU initiatives to promote social rights. “I want to discuss what can be done to overcome adverse human rights impacts stemming from the financial crisis. We need to reflect collectively how we can protect individuals and groups better in the future,” he added.

Mr. Bohoslavsky’s visit to Brussels complements an earlier fact finding visit to Greece in December 2015*.

The Independent Expert will hold a press conference for media representatives to share the preliminary findings of his visit on 3 June at 14:00 at the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC), Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2, 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium, tel. +32 2 788 8484. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

His final findings and key recommendations will be presented in a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.

(*) Check the latest report on Greece (A/HRC/31/60/Add.2): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Development/IEDebt/Pages/CountryVisits.aspx

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (Argentina) was appointed as Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 8 May 2014.  Before, he worked as a Sovereign Debt Expert for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where he coordinated an Expert Group on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing. His mandate covers all countries and has most recently been renewed by Human Rights Council resolution 25/16. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Development/IEDebt/Pages/IEDebtIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

For more information and media requests please contact:
Before and after the visit (in Geneva): Mr. Gunnar Theissen (+41 22 917 9321 / gtheissen@ohchr.org) or write to ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org
During the visit (in Brussels): Mr. Christophe Verhellen (+32 2 788 8454 / verhellen@unric.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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