About the Author: Judith Fergin serves as U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
When the people of Timor-Leste woke up this morning, their young nation had opened a new chapter in its history. Today is the first day since 1999 that there is no UN Security Council-mandated mission on the ground.
From the passage of UNSC Resolution 384 on December 22, 1975 to 1999, Timor-Leste remained on the Council’s agenda as unfinished post-colonial business. In 1999, the Security Council supported the UN-administered popular consultation in which Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence instead of continued incorporation in Indonesia; it then sadly directed the dispatch of peacekeepers as a result of post-referendum violence. A series of peacekeeping and special political missions ensued. In 2011, the final peacekeeping mission — the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) — and the government established a joint transition plan to… more »
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, November 21, 2012. [State Department photo by Matty Stern/ Public Domain]
Real Progress in the Global Fight Against Non-Communicable Diseases
About the Author: Ambassador Betty E. King serves as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.
It happened quietly, and it didn’t make any headlines, but an agreement reached in Geneva last week represents a key step forward in the battle against some of the world’s biggest killers: non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
On November 9, health officials representing member states of the World Health Organization agreed to a global monitoring framework and a set of voluntary global targets on NCDs, which are the leading cause of death worldwide, representing 63 percent of deaths annually, and 70 percent in the United States. For three intensive days, health officials held meetings to negotiate the final details of a strategy in the making since September 2011, when world leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly and agreed to the Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases. That Declaration… more »
On Monday, November 12, the United States was reelected to the UN Human Rights Council during a session of the 67th UN General Assembly. As the United States prepares for another term on the Council, we note the numerous accomplishments during the first term and pledge to continue the hard work necessary to advance human rights worldwide.
Since joining the Council in 2009, our efforts to strengthen and redirect the Council have resulted in concrete actions to address human rights abuses around the world. While the Council remains imperfect — particularly in its disproportionate focus on Israel — it is becoming a more balanced and credible institution. … more »
Expulsion of U.N. Human Rights Investigator in South Sudan
Press Statement Mark C. Toner Acting Spokesperson Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC November 6, 2012
We are deeply concerned about the Republic of South Sudan’s decision to order a Human Rights Officer working for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to depart the country within 48 hours.
The United States fully supports UNMISS and its efforts to strengthen government institutions, to provide humanitarian relief, and to monitor, mitigate, and prevent conflict throughout South Sudan. Human rights monitoring, investigation and reporting are core elements of the UNMISS mandate. It is important that the Mission’s Human Rights Officers be allowed to carry out this work without fear of reprisal or expulsion. Fostering deeper respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights will strengthen South Sudan’s democratic, civic, and national identity, and we encourage further progress in that regard.
As New York-based UN diplomats and humanitarians well know, natural disasters wreak havoc every day without regard to national borders or the global clock. In the same way, challenges that confront populations in conflict zones and weak states do not wait, even when UN-based efforts to address them are headquartered in the path of a deadly hurricane.
On October 31, two days after Hurricane Sandy socked the New York metropolitan area with gale-force winds, flooding, and unprecedented damage to the city’s power and transportation infrastructure, many in the U.S. Mission family lacked power, heating, and hot water. Some lost property to the storm’s surging waters. Yet the U.S. Mission to the United Nations was already back online, UN Security Council diplomats were meeting in a temporary room to renew the African Union mission in Somalia, and the world’s diplomats were… more »
Following the end of World War II, the Allied powers came together with the desire to have a forum where they could work together in the hopes of preventing future conflicts and wars. In the summer of 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization where they crafted and signed the UN Charter. In the months to follow, the U.S. Senate approved the UN Charter and the United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, after 29 nations had ratified the Charter.
As President Obama said in his 2012 United Nations Day proclamation, “Throughout its history, the United Nations Charter has reflected the belief that the world is more secure when the global community acts collectively.” Dedicated to assuring “the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small,” the institution… 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 »
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks at the Forum on Small States Opening Session at the United Nations in New York, New York on October 1, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]
Remarks at the Forum on Small States Opening Session
Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State United Nations New York City October 1, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister, and thanks also to the Secretary General and the UN General Assembly President for their remarks and for their leadership. I’m delighted to have been invited by Singapore to join you at the Forum of Small States to mark the 20th anniversary of its founding. I think organizing this event and the program that follows this opening provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on the issues that we face as a global community, and in particular, the roles and responsibilities that small states have.
In my time as Secretary, I’ve been honored to travel to over 100 countries and to meet with leaders in government, business, and civil society in every corner of the world. Now of course, this means frequent visits to larger nations and traditional centers of power, but for me, it has been equally important to visit many of your countries, to understand what you’re going through, to share ideas about how we can make progress together, to meet the Millennium Development Goals and then the initiative of the Secretary General, the Sustainable Development Goals.
Just last month, I attended the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands to talk with leaders of the region about how the United States can build stronger partnerships with their countries, and I’ve had similar conversations with small states from around the world. Now I believe this is absolutely essential because we have a lot of challenges that we are confronting, and I don’t think it’s unfair or inaccurate to say that smaller states often bear the burden of a lot of these challenges. These challenges don’t respect international orders, whether it’s a global financial crisis or climate change or transnational crime. And none of these problems can be solved by three or four big countries sitting around a table. We need partnerships from large and small nations alike. MORE