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The European Union and Armenia held their 13th Human Rights Dialogue in Yerevan

On 18 January, the European Union and Armenia held their 13th Human Rights Dialogue in Yerevan

Armenia and the EU are committed to strengthening their partnership, advancing the human rights agenda, delivering tangible benefits to their citizens and building more inclusive societies. This year’s dialogue focused on a wide range of topics, including gender equality and non-discrimination, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and information, electoral and constitutional reform, the rights of refugees, as well as strengthening labour rights.

The EU congratulated Armenia on positive developments related to human rights since the last Human Rights Dialogue in November 2022, despite the complex humanitarian challenges and the difficult security context. An important milestone was the adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan (HRAP) 2023-2025. The participants exchanged views on the ongoing work on a new draft Armenian Gender Strategy and the draft equality law. The EU welcomed the efforts made to strengthen the rights of the child and the labour inspection system. Armenia also updated the EU on its constitutional review process and the next steps, and on further plans to improve the electoral system.

Commending Armenia for positive developments, the EU noted that the human rights situation in the country should further be improved, for instance regarding detention conditions, discrimination against persons with disabilities, violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, domestic violence and hate speech. Participants also discussed human rights in the law enforcement bodies and armed forces.

The EU and Armenia discussed cooperation on issues related to human rights and fundamental freedoms in multilateral fora, such as the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, and committed to strengthening this collaboration. The EU welcomed i.a. the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ratification of Protocol N. 13 to the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances. The EU pledged to support capacity building on ICC rules and procedures within relevant government agencies of Armenia.

Armenia informed the EU about the humanitarian and human rights impact of Azerbaijan’s large scale military offensive in Nagorno Karabakh in September 2023 and the subsequent forced displacement. In this regard the Parties reiterated their previously stated positions. Armenia stressed the importance of prompt implementation of the legally binding decisions of the International Court of Justice to this end. Participants discussed the efforts to address the immediate needs of over 100.000 refugees and facilitate their socio-economic inclusion, which in mid-term perspective requires significant assistance. The EU recalled the EUR 12.2 million humanitarian assistance and EUR 15 million budget support it provided, and committed to continue supporting Armenia’s long-term socio-economic resilience, including through financial and technical assistance on key areas of human rights.

The Armenian delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan. The EU delegation was headed by Dorota Dlouchy-Suliga, Head of Division in the European External Action Service. The Human Rights Defender of Armenia Anahit Manasyan also participated in the dialogue.