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EU's new human-rights envoy Lambrinidis starts

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The EU’s new human rights chief has told MEP’s in Brussels his hopes and plans as the bloc’s special representative. Speaking before the European Parliament in his first day in the job, Stavros Lambrinidis said he would concentrate on human rights abuses both in and outside Europe.

“I shall focus on crisis situations, it goes without saying, but I shall also focus on how to make all the instruments at our disposal more effective in preventing human rights violations before they reach a crisis status.”

But aspects of the new envoy’s role and what influence he could bring to bear in places like Syria, for example, still remain unclear. Some believe Europe’s foreign policy needs to be more unified to work effectively.

Lotte Leicht from Human Rights Watch said: “China and Russia will only move in Security-Council if there is a truly global coalition behind the call. I would suggest, and I would strongly recommend, that once the EU has got its own act together, and the 27 come together, that the Special Representative will focus on other ICC (International Criminal Court) state parties: all of southern Africa, almost all of Latin America, and also some countries in the (Europe) region.’‘

Speaking from the European Parliament, our correspondent says: ‘‘the new EU representative’s two year mandate has started without knowing the budget for his team of two people.