“When the United States joined the United Nations Human Rights Council two years ago, we set forth four values that would guide our work: universality, dialogue, principle, and truth,” U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero said at the recent opening of the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. “We knew then, as we know now, that the honest dialogue and dedicated effort of this Council will help all of our nations on the path to international peace and security.”
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s 19th Session helped to initiate action on important human rights situations around the world, in part due to vigorous U.S. engagement. The Council took action to address the ongoing carnage in Syria, beginning with a high-level debate during the Council’s opening week, followed by the adoption of two resolutions on Syria – one focused on humanitarian access and the second extending the international Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
Other actions included the adoption of a resolution on post-conflict reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, and mandate renewals for the special rapporteurs on Iran, North Korea, and Burma. Council members also worked cooperatively with Libya and Yemen on resolutions to enshrine their commitments to protect and promote human rights.
The United States reaffirmed its strong opposition to anti-Israel measures that continue unnecessarily to politicize the Council’s human rights agenda. The United States’ persistence in combating the Council’s anti-Israel bias, along with successful efforts to confront human rights violations around the world, underscores the importance of United States leadership and engagement at the Human Rights Council and across the United Nations’ system.
“Our global challenges remain — among them, threats to freedoms of assembly, association, expression and religion, and to vulnerable populations,” Under Secretary Otero said. “We believe the [United Nations Human Rights] Council continues to make a significant impact on the world, and we look forward to being a part of its ongoing progress.”