Key Outcomes at the UN Human Rights Council 22nd Session
About the Author: Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe serves as the U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council.
The Human Rights Council 22nd Session, which ended on March 22, was one of the most significant in the Council’s short history. The packed agenda and vast portfolio of country situations and human rights issues addressed over the past four weeks are clear evidence of the Council’s ability to serve as the lead entity in the UN for promoting and protecting human rights.
In addition to the Council’s official agenda, nearly 150 different parallel events sponsored by civil society and governments took place, a clear signal that human rights defenders consider the Council a crucial venue for their work. When Shin Dong Hyuk, a young man who escaped from the brutal North Korean labor camp in which he had been born and grew up, gave compelling testimony at an event organized by a leading NGO, it was clear that the Council can and does bring the reality of human rights issues… more »
Accomplishments at the Human Rights Council 21st Session
About the Author: Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe serves as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council.
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva just concluded its 21st session, which was the last regular session of the United States’ first term on the Council. Since we joined in 2009, working together with a broad range of cross regional partners, we made significant progress across a wide array of important human rights issues.
Early in the session, the United States along with the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico, and Nigeria, presented a resolution on the rights of freedom of association and assembly. The resolution reaffirms the importance of respect for the rights of peaceful association and assembly as essential components of democracy. The resolution calls upon States to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom… more »
Fact Sheet: Key U.S. Outcomes at the UN Human Rights Council 19th Session
The 19th Session of the Human Rights Council underscored the importance of robust engagement at the Council, where the United States continues to work with a diverse range of countries from all regions of the world to address urgent human rights concerns.
U.S. leadership kept the Council at the forefront of the international effort to promote and protect human rights in the Middle East as the Arab Spring continues to transform the region. U.S. engagement has resulted in significant improvements to the Human Rights Council (HRC) over the past two and a half years, making it a more effective and credible multilateral forum for promoting and protecting human rights.
At the same time, the Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel continues to be a major challenge, as exemplified by the annual Item 7 resolutions. Through engagement at the Council, the U.S. continues to vigorously oppose this biased treatment. MORE
Statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the UN Human Rights Council Vote on Sri Lanka Reconciliation
Today’s action by the UN Human Rights Council encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to continue on the path toward reconciliation following 27 years of civil war. The United States, together with the international community, sent a strong signal that Sri Lanka will only achieve lasting peace through real reconciliation and accountability, and the international community stands ready to help. The next steps are clear. We look to the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and take the necessary measures to address accountability.
We are committed to working with the Sri Lankan Government to help realize this goal, and I look forward to discussing future actions with Foreign Minister Peiris soon. We will continue the productive working relationship we have with the Sri Lankan Government based on shared values, respect and constructive dialogue. Most important, we seek to strengthen our partnership with all the people of Sri Lanka.
Support for the People of Syria
Dr. Esther Brimmer serves as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs.
Earlier today, I spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where I joined many other nations gathered to demand an end to the Assad government’s outrageous and ongoing crimes against the people of Syria. Syrian civilians and international journalists risk their lives daily to inform the world of the horrendous scale of slaughter and suffering, and the Commission of Inquiry launched by the UN Human Rights Council last August concluded that the Syrian government forces have perpetrated crimes against humanity. No one can deny that Bashar al-Assad and his regime are waging a brutal campaign of slaughter, bombardment, torture, and arrest that already has murdered thousands of women, men, and children, with more killed each day.
As I said earlier today, the Syrian government must immediately halt its attacks on civilians, withdraw its military and security forces to their barracks, and release the many civilians, including journalists, whom it has detained arbitrarily. The government must grant humanitarian access to the country without delay, allowing much-needed food, water, and medical assistance to be delivered to the Syrian people. All states should heed the call of conscience, and halt any financial or other support to the Syrian government, including arms or materiel transfers, and must back UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan.
The way forward is clear. In the coming weeks, the UN Human Rights Council must extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, so that it can continue to investigate and document the gross human rights violations being committed in Syria, providing evidence to support accountability for the senior Syrian officials who have planned and perpetrated these atrocities. Finally, Assad must go. There must be a Syrian-led democratic political transition that meets the long-suppressed aspirations of the Syrian people.
The international community supports these essential steps as the solution to the violence in Syria. They are at the core of the plan the Arab League has put forward. They were further endorsed in Tunis last week by the Group of Friends of Syria. They were backed by an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly resolution adopted on February 16, 2012. And although thirteen members of the Security Council supported these steps earlier this month, indefensible vetoes by two permanent members gave Assad cover to accelerate his war on the Syrian people.
Syrian women, men, and children face murder and starvation at the hands of their own government, simply because they demand respect for the universal human rights the Human Rights Council exists to protect and advance. Let us demonstrate today that the world stands united with the people of Syria, for it is they who represent their country’s future, just as Assad and his regime represent its past.
Ambassador Rice Welcomes UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Syria
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed UN Human Rights Council Resolution S-16/1 on April 29, 2011. Ambassador Rice said:
“I welcome the decision today by the UN Human Rights Council to condemn the Government of Syria for its violent crackdown against peaceful demonstrators. With today’s vote, the Council has stood against attempts to silence dissent with the use of gratuitous violence, which is not the act of a responsible government.
“Human Rights Council Resolution S-16/1 sets an important precedent, marking a strong step forward for this world body at a critical time. Significantly, today’s resolution mandates an urgent mission by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law, with the goal of ensuring full accountability for the perpetrators of the violence.… more