Letter to Catherine Ashton on the appointment of Sam Kutesa as President UNGA

Marietje

Brussels, 13 June 2014

Honourable Lady Ashton, Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, is now the president of the United Nations General Assembly. He was appointed earlier this week to this position, without a ballot as there were no other candidates. Mr Kutesa played an instrumental role in defending Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, that was passed earlier this year. This law further increases the criminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda, fuelling persecution of homosexuals and impeding the fight against HIV and AIDS. Since the passage of the law, there have already been reports of growing violence against and even murder of homosexuals in Uganda. Although Mr Kutesa’s role as president of the UNGA will be largely ceremonial, his appointment and the lack of resistance against it, is a very poor signal indeed. The European Union, as a community of values, should have taken the lead in speaking out against Mr Kutesa’s appointment. The fact that this has not happened is a blow to our credibility and the strength of our position on the world stage. It also hurts the effectiveness of the UN as a whole. This is not the first time that the EU has failed to speak out against appointments within the framework of the UN which run contrary to our goals in the field of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. The appointment of countries with very poor track records on human rights to the UN Human Rights Council, for example, has too often been met with little or no resistance. The UN is the prime forum to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide, and the EU needs to use it to do so. Only by acting coherently and in unity within the context of the United Nations, as well as in close coordination with other partners, can the European Union make a difference and promote our values within this institution. We hope you agree that in the future, the EU must be more vocal and more critical of appointments within UN institutions which run counter to our values and our interests, if we want to remain a credible force to promote rights and freedoms. We would like to know what possibilities you see to increase both our credibility and effectiveness in this field. We look forward to receiving your reply. Sincerely, Marietje Schaake Sophie In ‘t Veld