Cooperation with OHCHR Can Help Goverments Protect and Promote Citizen’s Rights
Item 10: General Debate
Statement of the Delegation of the United States
As Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Human Rights Council 21st Session
Geneva, September 26, 2012
Thank you, Madame Chair.
Technical assistance and capacity-building in the area of human rights is one of the most tangible forms of support that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights can offer. States that proactively seek out this support and cooperate fully with the special procedures can mitigate the impacts of crises, stabilize government institutions to effectively provide public services, and improve the quality of life for their citizens.
The United States congratulates governments that have sought assistance from OHCHR through resolutions adopted under this item, and for their willingness to seek solutions to the challenges they face. Kyrgyzstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and South Sudan have set positive examples of how cooperation with the OHCHR on technical assistance and capacity-building can enhance a government’s ability to protect and promote the human rights of its citizens. As these countries can attest, attention from the Council under Item 10 is designed to provide constructive engagement. Over the course of time, such engagement, and the advances in human rights protection that it fosters, should allow for a country to no longer need assistance from the Council and even to become an example for others.
This body should encourage States to request OHCHR assistance willingly under Item 10, before conditions in the country become dire. Governments have a responsibility to seek out opportunities for assistance to prevent human suffering. At the same time, we should not allow governments that are not serious about improving conditions to use Item 10 as a shield against criticism.
When States do seek assistance, OHCHR and other States should offer timely and tailored input. We would encourage States that have overcome similar challenges to share best practices, provide training, and lend support. OHCHR and its staff should stand ready to provide actionable recommendations, feedback and programs specifically relevant to the recipient country, which its government can implement to effect positive changes on the ground. Monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation throughout a recipient country is an important part of helping a country engage with the international community to determine what types of technical assistance would be most beneficial, and what is available. No country and no challenge exists in isolation. To be able to provide constructive assistance to a government, OHCHR staff must be able to travel, hold dialogues, and report findings freely. Only with comprehensive knowledge of a country, gained with the full cooperation of the government, can successful technical assistance and capacity-building be accomplished, and can the true recipients — individuals on the ground — benefit.