22 June 2022, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Mr. Olof Skoog, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on the Report of the Group of Governmental Experts entitled ‘Towards torture-free trade: examining the feasibility, scope and parameters for possible common international standards’
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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Albania* and Serbia*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
We also align with the statement delivered by Mongolia on behalf of the Global Alliance for torture-free trade, which the EU has the honour to co-chair.
The EU welcomes the Report of the Group of Governmental Experts ‘Towards torture-free trade: examining the feasibility, scope and parameters for possible common international standards’, and we thank the Chair for his presentation. This Report is an important step towards combatting torture globally.
Torture and other ill-treatment are among the most abhorrent violations of human rights, human integrity and human dignity and are prohibited by international law. Yet, despite an absolute prohibition, torture and other ill-treatment persist all over the world. Instruments of torture that serve no other purpose than to inflict pain on human beings are still being traded freely across borders.
Trade can play an important role in promoting human rights. Within the EU, the so-called ‘Anti-Torture’ Regulation has since its adoption in 2005 served to help align our trade to our values. The Regulation has been instrumental in promoting respect for human life and fundamental human rights. It has made a positive contribution in meeting its main objective of taking effective measures against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. As the world’s first legally binding regulatory instrument in this area, it has also served as an example for the development of similar trade measures by third countries and international organisations.
The EU believes that regulating the trade in goods used for torture and the death penalty is an important contribution towards eradicating torture and ill treatment.
We welcome the recommendations included in the report to bring the process forward to the UN General Assembly with a view to prohibiting and/or regulating trade in goods that have no practical use other than for the purpose of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and goods that could be used for the purpose of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The EU reaffirms its strong and unequivocal opposition to the use of the death penalty at all times and under all circumstances. We note that the report acknowledges that there was a diversity of opinions on the feasibility of trade controls on death penalty goods. Three years ago, the General Assembly was clear in its request to address the trade in goods used both for torture and for capital punishment. The majority of UN Member States has spoken on the issue, and we will keep advocating for the inclusion of goods used for capital punishment in any future instrument.
The EU favours a strong international legally binding instrument and we will continue to engage closely with the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and the UN Member States as the process moves forward, including through an intergovernmental process.
*Albania continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
*Serbia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
 Regulation (EU) 2019/125 of 16 January 2019