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The 4th European Union (EU)-South Africa Structured Dialogue Forum on Human Rights has agreed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Human Rights Council.

The meeting took place on Wednesday in Brussels.

The two sides also explored ways they could do more together in the future to promote priority issues of common interest and expand cooperation, including follow up to the torture event and on migrant children, a joint media release issued after the meeting noted.

The dialogue forum is recognised as a useful platform to bring forward the human rights agenda and to narrow the gaps, particularly in multilateral fora with the aim of defining a common position and defending the mutual interests of the two parties on global issues.

In terms of multilateral issues, according to the statement, both sides discussed country and thematic resolutions, in particular, issues related to discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The forum also looked at the empowerment of women, business and human rights, Human Rights Defenders, the right to development and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights globally, the promotion and protection of children’s rights, as well as private military and security companies and defending access to justice and protecting victims.

At the domestic level, the discussions focused on the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as policing and human rights.

« Both sides welcomed, as one of the political deliverables of last year’s Human Rights Dialogue, the high-level panel event in Geneva that the EU and South Africa organised together with Denmark on ‘Why we should invest in rehabilitating victims of torture’. »

South Africa’s withdrawal from the Roman Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was also raised.

Last month, Cabinet approved a decision for the South African government to send an ‘instrument of withdrawal’ letter to the United Nations Secretary-General explaining its intention to withdraw from the ICC, citing that its obligations, with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, at times were incompatible with the interpretation given by the ICC.

« Both parties decided to consult with relevant stakeholders domestically, with a view to convene a dedicated meeting between SA and the EU as soon as possible and before the EU-SA Summit in 2017. »