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U.S. Statement on High Commissioner’s Report to the Human Rights Council
March 7, 2008

High Commissioner’s Report to Human Rights Council
U.S. Statement in Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner Louise Arbour

Delivered by Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva

Mr. President,

Before beginning my prepared remarks, I’d like to reiterate President Bush’s statement of yesterday on the violence in Jerusalem, when he condemned in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack in Jerusalem that targeted innocent students. This barbaric, vicious attack on innocent civilians deserves the condemnation of every nation.

At the same time, we renew our call for an end to the violence and express concern about the loss of innocent life in Gaza—and in Israel—while urging a return to the peace negotiation which is the path to peace in the Holy Land.

I would like to thank you, Madame High Commissioner, for the dedication and energy with which you have carried out your responsibilities as High Commissioner for Human Rights these last four years.

Although probably no country, including the United States, has agreed with all of your views on each and every issue during your tenure as High Commissioner, we have always respected you for your integrity and your independence. Such characteristics are crucial to the ability of anyone in such a demanding position to promote and protect human rights — in the face of fierce scrutiny and sometimes of staunch opposition from UN Member States — and we hope the Secretary General will select someone who possesses the same essential qualities to fill the role after your departure. We wish you the very best in your future endeavors.

We view with concern attempts to weaken the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner. It is vital that this important body remain a strong and independent force for the protection and promotion of human rights around the world.

Madame High Commissioner, in your recent report to this Council you noted that you consider the Universal Periodic Review one of the main pillars of the institutional architecture of the Council. We fully agree with your assessment that the credibility of the Council is on the line with the launching of the new mechanism. UPR’s success will indeed depend, to a large degree, on the willingness of States to engage in the process in a meaningful and constructive manner. The United States intends to do so, in a fully transparent manner, and hopes that our colleagues in this room will approach the process with the same degree of commitment to cooperative dialogue and transparency.

On the new Advisory Committee, we also agree with your highlighting that the Committee should be implementation-oriented.

We applaud the efforts of your office over the past year to prioritize engagement at the country level. In our view, the movement over the past several years from priority on the work in Geneva to work in the field is a trend in the right direction, and the United States will continue to support your office’s efforts to deepen its country engagement in those places where victims of violations most need assistance.

Thank you very much.