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UN Human Rights Council 11th Session – Item3 General Debate
June 8, 2009

Statement by the Delegation of the United States
Delivered by Mark Cassayre

June 8, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States looks forward to its tenure as a Member of the Human Rights Council. The U.S. is committed to being a strong advocate for those around the world who suffer from abuse and oppression, and to being a stalwart defender of courageous individuals across the globe who work, often at great personal risk, on behalf of the rights of others.

Core to this process is securing the independence of those in the United Nations system that support human rights, particularly the Office of the High Commissioner and the special rapporteurs and independent experts that underpin the UN’s human rights efforts. We seek to support and expand the work of these actors.

Articulating clear and balanced parameters for special procedure mandate holders, as well as supporting their work through cooperation at the national level, are key to ensuring a credible and constructive human rights process. In the same vein, pressuring mandate holders to remove negative opinions from their reports or otherwise influencing their objectivity and independence stifles the genuine, healthy debate that should comprise the core of the Council’s deliberations.

Indeed, Rapporteurs and working groups, whose job it is to bring human rights situations to the attention of this Council, are almost by definition going to be unpopular. My own government has had its fair share of disagreements with several Rapporteurs over the years, but we have always supported the independence of the office and recognize that our own record and beliefs should be subject to debate and, in turn, should be able to stand the test of criticism. The world will be best served by a High Commissioner and expert mechanisms that can and are encouraged to speak the truth, even when such truth may be inconvenient.

We strongly encourage all states to support the independence of the OHCHR and all human rights mechanisms and to view them as resources in the fight to ensure the full realization of human rights around the world.