Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2011 09:27:01 -0400
Subject: STATEMENT BY MARK TONER: The United Nations Human Rights Council
This morning, the State Department released the following statement and fact sheet, which details key U.S. accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council. Although the fact sheet is broad, it is important to highlight how we have consistently opposed anti-Israeli resolutions in the U.N. Human Rights Council (including the resolutions on the flotilla incident and the follow up to the Goldstone report) and the General Assembly in UNESCO.
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For Immediate Release and Posting
U.S.. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release March 30, 2011
STATEMENT BY MARK TONER, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESMAN
The United Nations Human Rights Council
The United States is pleased to note the landmark achievements of the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council.
This session included bold, assertive action by the Council to highlight the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran by establishing a new Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in that country, the first country-specific mandate created by the Council since it came into being. The Council also charted a new course for global efforts to condemn intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief while protecting and promoting freedom of expression. The Council established a Commission of Inquiry to examine serious abuses and violations of human rights in Cote d’Ivoire, and extended the Council’s scrutiny of the ongoing serious human rights abuses in Burma.. And in conjunction with the session, the United States led a ground-breaking effort to get 85 UN member-states to join a statement supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Taken collectively, the actions taken by the 16th Human Rights Council represent a significant positive change in the Council’s trajectory.
However, much work remains to be done to ensure that the Council realizes fully its intended purpose. In particular, the United States remains determined to take all possible steps to end the Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it. We also will continue to work to thwart the efforts to elect as Council members governments that clearly do not merit membership given their own human rights records. And the United States remains determined to continue to push the Council to address a broad range of urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide. To this end, the United States Government intends to pursue a second term on the Council at the Human Rights Council elections in New York in May 2012.
We believe that U.S. engagement in the Human Rights Council has directly resulted in real progress. In our two years on the Council, we’ve not been happy with every outcome, and have firmly denounced Council actions we disagree with, but the Council has made important strides. Much work remains to be done for the Human Rights Council to sustain the gains of the last two years and to fully realize its potential, and the United States looks forward to continuing our efforts to do so.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release March 30, 2011
Key U.S. Accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council
This September will mark the two-year anniversary of U.S. membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council. U.S. engagement at the Council has led to a number of new mechanisms to spotlight and address serious human rights concerns and focused international attention to some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers. Much work remains before the Council can fully realize its mandate as the international community’s focal point for the protection and promotion of human rights. The United States will continue to work hard to diminish the Council’s biased disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it.
Key accomplishments over the past two years include:
DEEPENING ENGAGEMENT IN COUNTRY SITUATIONS
Iran: The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation by establishing a Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran. The rapporteur will investigate and report on abuses in Iran and call out the failure of the Iranian government to meet its human rights obligations.
Cote d’Ivoire: U.S. leadership led to a Special Session on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, sending Laurent Gbagbo a clear message that the world is watching what he does and that atrocities and human rights violations would not go unnoticed. At its most recent session, the Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these abuses and amplified the international community’s unequivocal message that President Ouattara must be allowed to serve as the elected head of state.
Libya: The United States played a pivotal role in convening the Council’s Special Session in February 2011 during which the Council condemned the recent human rights violations and other acts of violence committed by the Government of Libya, created an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate those violations, and recommended to the UN General Assembly that it suspend Libya’s membership rights on the Council. The UN General Assembly acted on that recommendation several days later.
Kyrgyzstan: The United States worked with Kyrgyzstan to draft and galvanize support for the first-ever resolution to address human rights violations there in the wake of the killings and abuses that took place in June 2010. It called for a credible investigation by the Government and international assistance for victims and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide follow-up reporting. The resolution paved the way for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these events.
Guinea: The United States led the Council to adopt several resolutions on Guinea. The Council condemned the September 2009 violence, welcomed the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ decision to open a country office, and requested technical assistance from the international community for the transition to democracy, which produced concrete results on the ground.
Tunisia: The United States worked with the EU and the interim government of Tunisia to adopt a resolution that welcomed the process of political transition that has started in Tunisia, invited the UN to provide technical assistance to the transitional process in Tunisia, and encouraged the government of Tunisia to implement recommendations of the High Commissioner from its report on its mission earlier this year.
Burma: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma. The Special Rapporteur plays a critical role in reporting on the ongoing human rights abuses in Burma, including calling for a commission of inquiry into the situation.
North Korea: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea. While the government of North Korea strongly opposes this mandate, the number of votes in favor of the resolution increased this year, demonstrating the level of international concern with the situation there.
Sudan: The United States led efforts to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert tasked with monitoring human rights throughout Sudan, including Darfur, over the Sudanese government’s strong opposition.
INITIATING CONCRETE ACTION TO DRIVE HUMAN RIGHTS PRIORITIES
Protecting Freedom of Assembly and Association: The U.S. government co-sponsored a resolution to create the first-ever Special Rapporteur to protect Freedom of Assembly and Association, to monitor crackdowns on civil society groups and advance protection of the right to free assembly and association through its vigilant exposure of state conduct.
Combating Discrimination Against Women: The United States championed the establishment of a Working Group of Independent Experts to prevent Discrimination Against Women; the five independent experts will address discrimination against women in law and practice. One of the experts is the first Israeli citizen to be appointed by the Human Rights Council President to a special mechanism.
A Strong Statement on LGBT Rights: The United States led a group of 85 countries to sign a statement entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” It represents a landmark moment in UN efforts to highlight human rights abuses faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world.
DEFENDING CORE PRINCIPLES
Protecting Freedom of Expression in the Context of Religious Intolerance: The United States was instrumental in galvanizing support for a consensus resolution that marks a sea change in the global dialogue on countering offensive and hateful speech based upon religion or belief. The “Combating Discrimination and Violence” resolution underscores the vital importance of protecting freedom of expression and ends the divisive debate over the highly problematic concept of “defamation of religions.”