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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

EU Commission: North Korea: EU adopts new sanctions

North Korea: EU adopts new sanctions

On 16 October, the Foreign Affairs Council discussed the situation in the Korean peninsula and in particular the continuing development of the DPRK's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in violation and flagrant disregard of UN Security Council resolutions.

Given the persistent threat to international peace and stability posed by the DPRK, the Council adopted new EU autonomous measures to further increase the pressure on the DPRK to comply with its obligations. The measures complement and reinforce the UN Security Council sanctions. They take effect immediately.

The new measures include:

  • a total ban on EU investment in the DPRK, in all sectors. The ban was previously limited to investment in the nuclear and conventional arms-related industry, in the sectors of mining, refining and chemical industries, metallurgy and metalworking and aerospace;
  • a total ban on the sale of refined petroleum products and crude oil to the DPRK. These exports were subject to certain limitations under the UN Security Council resolution of 11 September;
  • lowering the amount of personal remittances transferred to the DPRK from € 15 000 to € 5 000; as they are suspected of being used to support the country's illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

In addition, with a view to eliminating remittances to the DPRK, member states agreed not to renew work authorisations for DPRK nationals present on their territory, except for refugees and other persons benefiting from international protection.

The Council also added three persons and six entities supporting the illicit programmes to the lists of those subject to an asset freeze and travel restrictions. This brings the total number under restrictive measures against the DPRK  as designated by the EU autonomously to 41 individuals and 10 entities. In addition, 63 individuals and 53 entities are listed by the UN.  

Ministers also agreed to actively lobby for a robust implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions by all UN member states. 

Background

The EU is implementing all UN Security Council resolutions adopted in response to the DPRK's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. In addition, the EU has imposed autonomous restrictive measures against the DPRK, complementing and reinforcing the UN sanctions regime. 

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Council reaffirms the EU's commitment to promote and protect human rights

The Foreign Affairs Council discussed the EU policy on human rights and on how to best promote them in bilateral and multilateral contexts.

The Council reaffirmed the EU's commitment to promoting and protecting human rights everywhere in the world.

The Council adopted conclusions on the mid-term review of the action plan on human rights and democracy. It also adopted its annual report on human rights and democracy in the world (2016).

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Myanmar/Burma: Council adopts conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions on Myanmar/Burma:

"1.  The humanitarian and human rights situation in Rakhine State is extremely serious. There are deeply worrying reports of continuing arson and violence against people and serious human rights violations, including indiscriminate firing of weapons, the presence of landmines and sexual and gender based violence. This is not acceptable and must end immediately. More than 500 000 people, mostly Rohingya, have fled their homes and sought refuge in Bangladesh, as a result of violence and fear. When so many people are displaced so quickly this strongly indicates a deliberate action to expel a minority. Therefore it is of utmost importance that refugees can return in safety and dignity. Access for humanitarian assistance and the media is severely restricted in Rakhine State. Needs can therefore not be fully assessed nor addressed.

2.  The EU has called on all sides to bring an immediate end to all violence. It urges the Myanmar/Burma military to end its operations and to ensure the protection of all civilians without discrimination and to fully observe international human rights law. The EU also reiterates its call on the Myanmar/Burma government to take all measures to defuse tensions between communities; grant full, safe and unconditional humanitarian access without delay, including for UN, ICRC, and international NGOs; and establish a credible and practical process to enable the safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return of all those who fled their homes to their places of origin. The EU has stepped up its humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and stands ready to extend its activities in Rakhine State in favour of all people in need once access is granted.

3.  The EU and its Member States reconfirm their strong engagement underlined in its Strategy on Myanmar (June 2016) to support the country's democratic transition, peace, national reconciliation and socio-economic development. In this context, the EU stands ready to support the government of Myanmar/Burma in order to ensure the swift and full implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, including the crucial issue of citizenship for the stateless Rohingya population. The EU welcomes that the government has set-up an Inter-Ministerial Committee for the implementation of these recommendations.

4.  The EU welcomes the State Counsellor's commitment to bringing all the perpetrators of human rights violations and other criminal acts to justice, in accordance with the rule of law to avoid all impunity, and her statement on 19 September that Myanmar/Burma does not fear international scrutiny. Credible allegations of serious human rights violations and abuses, including brutal attacks on children, must be thoroughly investigated. In this context the EU urges Myanmar/Burma to cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council's independent international Fact-Finding Mission and to allow it full, safe and unhindered access to the country without delay. The EU welcomes that the UN Human Rights Council recently extended the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission.

5.  Furthermore, the EU encourages Myanmar/Burma to enter into a dialogue with its neighbouring countries, in particular Bangladesh, on finding solutions to common concerns, notably the repatriation of refugees to their place of origin, in the spirit of good neighbourly relations. The EU appreciates the constructive role played by Bangladesh under difficult circumstances.

6.  In the light of the disproportionate use of force carried out by the security forces, the EU and its Member States will suspend invitations to the Commander-in-chief of the Myanmar/Burma armed forces and other senior military officers and review all practical defence cooperation. The EU confirms the relevance of the current EU restrictive measures which consist of an embargo on arms and on equipment that can be used for internal repression. The Council may consider additional measures if the situation does not improve but also stands ready to respond accordingly to positive developments.

7.  The humanitarian situation of populations affected by conflict in Kachin and Shan States, including 100.000 internally displaced people, is also of great concern. Humanitarian assistance has also been severely curtailed there and the EU calls on the government of Myanmar/Burma to restore humanitarian access to all communities affected in these areas.

8.  The EU will continue to address these vital issues and all challenges linked to the process of democratic transition in the framework of its continuing engagement with the government of Myanmar/Burma and in all relevant international fora, notably the UN. The EU also intends to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming ASEM Foreign Ministerial Meeting (Nay Pyi Taw, 20/21 November 2017) to engage, in the margins thereof, in a constructive dialogue with the government and will also continue to liaise with all Asian partners in this regard. The EU also encourages its partners in ASEAN and the region to engage in this process."

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Afghanistan: Council adopts EU strategy

The Council adopted conclusions on an EU strategy on Afghanistan. The Council reconfirmed the EU's and member states' long-term commitment to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and to support its sustainable development.

The strategy on Afghanistan focuses on four priority areas: promoting peace, stability and regional security, reinforcing democracy, the rule of law and human rights and promoting good governance and women's empowerment, supporting economic and human development, addressing challenges related to migration.

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Sabine Lautenschläger: Dealing with a globalised banking sector
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