Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) | Brussels, 28 January 2016
Highlights of the EU report on sustainable development and good governance in GSP+ countries
All 14 GSP+ countries have demonstrated progress in strengthening their national institutions for tackling human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and good governance, paving the way for further action to effectively implement the international conventions covered by the GSP+ arrangement. Six countries analysed in the report have now exited the GSP+ (Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and Peru), but will continue to be covered by FTAs where Trade and Sustainable Development chapters provide the tools for engaging with them further on these issues.
The GSP+ arrangement has also pushed countries to improve their reporting to international monitoring bodies, including various UN agencies, such as the ILO. Given the capacity and wide-ranging technical expertise such reporting requires, this is a particularly significant achievement.
During this first GSP+ monitoring cycle, all countries also engaged in an intensive dialogue with the European Commission, allowing the report to provide a detailed analysis of the functioning of the GSP+ arrangement.
Selected highlights from the GSP+ report's findings on each beneficiary are noted below. For a full reflection of a country's compliance with its GSP+ commitments, see the relevant country chapter.
GSP+ Report – Country Highlights
- In 2014-2015, Armenia made a considerable effort and caught up with the majority of its reporting obligations to the monitoring bodies of the international conventions on human rights.
- These reports contained several legislative proposals. It is essential that this legislation is adopted as foreseen and, together with the recently adopted new constitution and the future electoral code, appropriately implemented, in order to address Armenia's persisting human rights problems, which include a lack of judicial independence and integrity and a lack of legislation to tackle discrimination.
- Armenia is preparing a stand-alone law on anti-discrimination, to be adopted by the end of 2016. A Men and Women Equality Affairs Council has been established to deal with issues related to gender discrimination.
- While the fight against corruption remains one of the country's major challenges, Armenia has adopted a draft strategy and action plan in September 2015. It focuses on healthcare, education, state revenue collection, and the police. Anti-corruption legislation will need to be substantially improved and adequately enforced.
- Bolivia still lacks compliance with reporting obligations for a number of human rights and environment conventions.
- Bolivia has adopted several new legislative acts to improve the human rights situation and to implement its international human rights commitments, but the challenge remains to ensure that the legislation is implemented systematically and effectively.
- Bolivia is encouraged to focus on tackling child labour, which requires a holistic approach: legislation and enforcement, education and training, social protection and promotion of decent work opportunities. A particular concern is the minimum age to work, as stipulated in the Law of Children and Adolescents, which conflicts with the ILO Convention 138. The ILO has requested Bolivia to bring its law in compliance with the convention.
- Bolivia is making efforts to tackle corruption, and has seen progress on transparency and access to information in its public institutions, as well as a strengthened capacity to deal with incidences of corruption. Further action is needed to criminalise cases of corruption, and to tackle a wider range of forms of corruption in the private and public sectors.
- While Bolivia is making efforts to reduce coca production and tackle drug trafficking, in close cooperation with the international community, continued efforts are needed including cooperation with neighbouring countries.
- Cabo Verde stands out within its region as an example of tolerance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It ensures the enforcement of all the main human rights conventions in a generally effective manner. In particular, the government is addressing the shortcomings on the rights of the child, and on gender-based violence and discrimination.
- Since entry to the GSP+, Cabo Verde has made efforts to submit its reports on time, notably on ICCPR and CEDAW. However, Cabo Verde should focus on submitting its overdue reports on most of the seven human rights conventions. Reports are largely outstanding due to a substantial lack of resources.
- In 2015, Cabo Verde prepared a national plan on security and stability, with assistance from the EU-Cabo Verde Special Partnership. This should help Cabo Verde fight more effectively against organised crime and trafficking.
- Costa Rica has a longstanding positive record on human rights. Implementation of all the conventions is undoubtedly satisfactory through both national legislation and practice, regardless of the ruling party.
- Reporting requirements for the 27 conventions are generally met.
- Specific concerns on the discrimination of indigenous peoples and LGTBI groups are being seriously addressed by the government, with progress recently made.
- Costa Rica is working to improve its shortcomings on the labour conventions, which include restrictions to the right to strike, and excessively slow judicial labour procedures. It adopted an Anti-Trafficking Law in 2012, and is renegotiating the collective bargaining conditions in the public sector.
- Ecuador complies with the majority of its reporting obligations for the 27 conventions. Some reports on environment are still outstanding.
- The current government has made gender equality one of the core points of the new Constitution's bill of rights, and it has promoted women's participation in human rights. However, the implementation of other rights guaranteed in the constitution remains challenging, particularly on freedom of expression.
- Ecuador has made significant progress in eliminating the worst forms of child labour. It seeks to eradicate it by 2017, while recognising that relatively higher rates of child labour exist among the rural population.
- However, Ecuador does not share the ILO Committee of Experts' observations on restrictions to freedom of association in the public and private sector. Ecuador's position that the Committee's observations are not binding on States undermines the effectiveness of supervision by and cooperation with the ILO.
- Ecuador addresses climate change through its National Plan of Good Living 2013-2017 and its National Climate Change Strategy 2012-2025. Ecuador is also working on a National Climate Change Plan 2015-2018, seeking to operationalise the National Climate Change Strategy.
- El Salvador has made progress in implementing the UN HR conventions. This includes a constitutional amendment recognising the indigenous population, and efforts to provide protection to vulnerable groups.
- El Salvador is broadly compliant with its reporting obligations although some reports are still outstanding on human rights and environment.
- The country's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October 2014 concluded broadly positively, but recommended that the high levels of violence against women should be addressed.
- To reach national agreements on how to address widespread insecurity, El Salvador established a National Council on Citizen Security and Coexistence in 2014. In 2015, it adopted the "El Salvador Seguro" strategy ("A Safe Salvador").
- Concerns remain about the practical implementation of the core labour standards, especially on freedom of association and collective bargaining. The Civil Service Act, currently being drafted, could address shortcomings on freedom of association, equal remuneration, and discrimination.
- To tackle corruption, El Salvador has presented a 2014-2016 action plan on the 'Alliance for an Open Government'.
- Recent successes on tackling drug trafficking can only be sustained if further resources are devoted to the national law enforcement agencies.
- Georgia continues to make steady progress on democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. As an associated partner country of the EU, Georgia is committed to the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and can rely on continuing EU support to address any outstanding issues.
- For example, and despite tangible efforts to comply with the Convention against Torture, further progress is needed, including the establishment of an independent mechanism to investigate torture allegations.
- A revised Labour Code was adopted in 2013, addressing many issues previously raised regarding Georgia's implementation of the ILO labour conventions, including those on freedom of association and the right to organise and bargain collectively. However, labour inspections remain a politically sensitive matter, and are not yet aligned with ILO standards.
- Georgia also made significant progress on its anti-corruption efforts, including on reforming the civil service and progressing the implementation of the 2015-2016 Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan. Georgia underwent three progress assessments as part of the OECD Anti-Corruption Network, with 12 of 15 recommendations judged implemented as of March 2015.
- Reporting requirements for the 27 conventions are generally met.
- A series of unprecedented and landmark cases of corruption against high-level public officials and members of the Executive have been conducted in 2015 by the Prosecutor General's Office in coordination with the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala. Further concrete actions to tackle corruption are needed.
- Guatemala has made progress on addressing gender violence – the country gained 24 ranks in the Gender Equality index in 2014. A strong legal framework exists, and specialist institutions have been set up, although 705 cases of femicide were recorded in 2014.
- To help tackle the challenge of the independence of the judiciary in Guatemala, reforms to the judicial selection process and the judicial career have been proposed. Further action is required to improve the situation of human rights defenders.
- Respect for core labour rights remains an issue, in particular freedom of association. Some progress has been achieved (protective measures of trade union officials, awareness-raising campaign on freedom of association, etc.) but more concrete results are expected.
- Guatemala now fully inspects all timber which is traded internationally, supporting the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Forensic wood inspection systems have been strengthened. In addition, two projects have been launched to develop the sustainable management and conservation of endangered timber species.
- Guatemala complies with the majority of its reporting obligations for the 27 conventions. A report on human rights and some reports on environment are, however, still outstanding.
- Mongolia made overall progress on its human rights framework. There is a general commitment by the parliament, government, and civil society to protecting and promoting universal human rights standards. The first EU-Mongolia Human Rights Dialogue should help to tackle the most serious and persistent shortcomings, which include the need to establish a fully independent mechanism to investigate allegations of torture and ill treatment.
- Mongolia has introduced a range of legally-binding domestic legislation to address climate change, including the Green Development Policy (2014-20130), and the State Policy on Energy (2015-2030).
- Mongolia should particularly focus on improving its reporting record on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, as it has not submitted any reports on trade in CITES products in the last three years. There are also shortcomings in submitting reports on ILO conventions.
- Corruption remains a major problem in Mongolia, but discussions on the National Anti-Corruption Programme are ongoing, after it was submitted to the parliament by the Office of the President.
- Human rights violations remain widespread in the country despite some of the initiatives underway. In addition, Pakistan has made during the reporting period and notably in recent months commendable efforts to submit all due reports to the Monitoring Bodies of UN Human Rights Conventions.
- Some progress has been made in strengthening the institutional framework. Pakistan has announced that a National Action plan on human rights has been drafted and is awaiting approval by the Prime Minister. The National Commission for Human Rights was established in May 2015.
- A Commission on the Status of Women was established in 2000, but it is still seriously underfunded. A proposal for the establishment of a Commission on the Rights of the Child is still under discussion. The EU remains willing to offer technical assistance to support such institutions.
- Pakistani provinces are working to adopt provincial legislation to abolish child labour, which remains considerable across the country. For example, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has adopted a law on elimination of child labour and allocated funds to improve labour inspections. In Punjab a bill is pending in cabinet, after which it will be submitted to the provincial assembly for approval. Legislative action is still pending in Sindh and Balochistan.
- Similarly, the provinces have made progress on tackling bonded labour, which remains widespread. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has passed an act prohibitingslavery and debt bondage, and the Chief Minister of Punjab has pledged to eradicate both bonded and child labour.
- The government, employers, and trade unions have welcomed GSP+ as a useful instrument. It has improved cooperation and dialogue among all parties on the labour market, and it should support Pakistan to address its continuing shortcomings on labour rights.
- Priority of future work under the GSP+ monitoring and dialogue with Pakistan will be on delivering concrete improvements on the issues identified in the report, especially in relation to all human rights conventions, but also addressing the outstanding issues with regard to the protection of labour rights.
- Panama has a good overall record of respect for human rights, also in a regional context. Efforts should continue to further the recent progress on discrimination against indigenous communities and citizens of African descent. Panama should also ensure to submit its overdue reports to the UN monitoring bodies.
- The most recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Panama took place in May 2015. It noted several main positive aspects, including the ratification of several primary international Human Rights instruments (i.e. OPCAT or ICCPED), significant efforts to fight violence against women or the progress on the Millennium Development Goals through a comprehensive policy on poverty reduction and unemployment.
- The Minister for Social Development presented the 2015-2019 Action Plan to Achieve Equal Opportunities for Women. Both government and civil society participated in the drafting.
- Following technical assistance in recent years, the new Ministry of Labour is strengthening its capacity. Panama has significantly improved its compliance with its reporting requirements under the labour conventions, but still meets some problems with its reporting obligations.
- Panama remains a leader in tackling drugs in the Central America region, and continued its support for counter-narcotics operations and investigations in 2014, while continuing to invest in its own capacity.
- Paraguay made progress in implementing human rights commitments in 2014-2015. Sustained action to ensure effective and systematic implementation remains necessary – including with regard to violence and discrimination against women, child labour, and investigations of killings of human rights defenders.
- Paraguay took measures in 2015 to strengthen consultation and inclusion of indigenous communities. Paraguay also adopted legislation on the return of traditional land to an indigenous community, with other restitutions ongoing. A coherent mechanism for dealing with indigenous land claims is lacking.
- A large number of children remain in labour in Paraguay. The authorities have implemented the Abrazo programme, aiming to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. Similarly, the Painac programme aims to reduce the number of street children.
- While Paraguay is taking action to tackle drug-related concerns, additional resources and institutional strengthening are needed. Corruption remains a concern, but the government has taken a series of measures to increase transparency and to fight corruption.
- Paraguay complies with the majority of its reporting obligations for the 27 conventions. A report on human rights and some reports on environment are, however, still outstanding.
- Peru is committed to fully implementing the principles and rights in the UN human rights conventions. Human rights are guaranteed by the constitution, and a National Strategy on Human Rights was approved in 2014. It will be crucial for such progress to be continued beyond 2016, which is the end of the current government's term, particularly on issues such as violence against women and LGBTI rights.
- The promotion of the rights of indigenous people is notable, and is a clear priority of the government. In 2013, the National Commission for the Fight against Discrimination was established, and in 2014, Peru sponsored the first UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
- While Peru continues to be a major drug producing and drug trafficking country, the government has demonstrated an increasingly strong political will for the successful implementation of the National Anti-Drug Strategy 2012-2016.
- As part of its interest in joining the OECD, the Peruvian government is undergoing a Public Governance Review, focusing on transparency and the fight against corruption. The report and its recommendations are expected to be published in 2016.
Peru is broadly compliant with its reporting obligations for the 27 conventions although a few reports on environment are still outstanding.
- Human rights organisations recognise the intent of the current political leadership to protect human rights and bring abusers to justice, yet seek actual improvement on the ground. Most progress during this short reporting period has been on economic and social rights.
- In December 2014, the National Commission on Human Rights launched a national monitoring mechanism for extra-judicial killings (EJKs), standardising the criteria for defining EJKs. There has been a notable decrease in the number of EJKs and forced disappearances. The situations of journalists and indigenous people as well as the climate of impunity remain of concern. The National Commission faces difficulties in pursuing its activities due to insufficient resources and a lack of staff.
- The Philippines was ranked highly in the global gender equality index, particularly in the areas of education and health. Following Congress approval, President Aquino signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, providing wide access to family planning services. A legal challenge delayed the law's implementation, but the passage of the bill is a great accomplishment of the current administration.
- While challenges to the fundamental labour rights continue to arise in certain regions and certain industries, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has taken the GSP+ as an additional tool to help support some of its policies to strengthen labour rights. Notably, following labour rights issues in the tuna industry in General Santos, DOLE has been working on a joint department order to ‘harmonize laws and regulations in giving decent work to fishermen and ease doing business with the fishing industry.’
- The Philippines comply with the majority of their reporting obligations for the 27 conventions. A report on human rights and some reports on environment are, however, still outstanding.