“We feel like it is our responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless and the victims of human rights abuses."
The United Nations General Assembly recently elected the United States to a second term on the UN Human Rights Council, or UNHRC.
“The United States is very pleased with the outcome of the election,” U.S. Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Donahoe said, noting that U.S. hopes to build on work begun in its first three years on the council:
“We feel we’ve gotten a lot of traction in our first term -- helping reform the institution and making it more effective … making change with respect to human rights on the ground and we’re really happy to have the opportunity to continue in that work.”
The United States is honored to have been elected to the term and appreciates the support of all UN member states that endorsed the bid.
Since joining the Human Rights Council in 2009, the United States has been involved in successfully transforming the Council into a more balanced and credible organization. That focus, said Ambassador Donahoe, will continue into the second term. The U.S. will continue to work with the UNHRC to further a series of specific objectives:
“Our goal was to get the focus of the council onto the most egregious human rights situations and crisis situations. And we feel like that work must continue.”
Ambassador Donahoe cited a greater focus on human rights abuses in Iran, including the appointment of a Special Rapporteur; and special sessions and resolutions on Libya and Syria as examples of this focus. The U.S. has also brought increased attention to civil rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, internet freedom and freedom of religion and belief:
“We feel like it is our responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless and the victims of human rights abuses, who come to speak to us in Geneva, usually off-record, but, we’ve heard some devastating stories and we feel it’s important to speak up for them.”
The Human Rights Council still has much work to do. The United States looks forward to continued engagement with its international partners to ensure that the Council fully realizes its intended purposes.