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Human Rights Council, Item 10, General Debate
March 25, 2009

Human Rights Council in Session in Geneva

UN Human Rights Council Tenth Regular Session

Item 10 General Debate

Statement by the
Delegation of the United States of America

Delivered by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission
Lawrence G. Richter

March 25, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States appreciates the High Commissioner’s report.  We offer our support for the efforts undertaken by her office and her dedicated staff, particularly those working under difficult conditions in the field.

The United Nations’ mission to promote full respect for all human rights is not solely one of advocacy and reporting – though these are critical.  To truly achieve our shared goal, the United Nations must also work to assist governments to identify areas of concern and assist in the design and implementation of human rights protections.  The High Commissioner’s technical assistance and capacity-building programs are crucial to this effort.

The Office of the High Commissioner has assisted governments with legislative and judicial reforms, training for military and security sectors, and provides key technical support to justice and other ministries in governments around the world.  The High Commissioner’s reports presented this session – including on activities in Colombia and Nepal, among others – show the importance of this work.

The United States strongly supports the Office of the High Commissioner’s field work and is encouraged that the High Commissioner intends to continue to expand its regional offices.  We are concerned by the closing of a few offices over the past two years, and by the unwillingness of some countries which could clearly benefit from OHCHR’s assistance to consider the possibility of accepting it.  We encourage governments to view these arrangements with the High Commissioner’s Office as a demonstration of the government’s proactive commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.   In this regard, we regret that Sri Lanka continues to decline in OHCHR presence, and that a number of other countries have been unwilling to host regional OHCHR presences.

In 2005, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the beginning of an “era of implementation” of human rights.  Four years later, we still believe this era is just getting started, and that the High Commissioner’s good works in the field and around the world are central to our common efforts to achieve this vision.

Thank you.