Item 6 General Debate – Human Rights Council 11th Session

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Mark Cassayre
Geneva, June 12, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

The spirit of the Universal Periodic Review – indeed the Human Rights Council as a whole – is to alleviate suffering by examining and resolving human rights abuses as they occur worldwide. We are hopeful about the prospects of the UPR process, and encouraged by the example set by many governments that have undertaken the review process with the utmost respect, seriousness of purpose, and sincerity. If implemented objectively and with maximum transparency and active NGO participation, the UPR could become a useful mechanism in the Council for monitoring adherence to human rights obligations. The process encourages us all to work more closely with NGOs, to promote human rights on the ground, and to fulfill commitments to improve our ability to implement human rights obligations. We commend those governments that have participated in this review with open minds and who have used this as an opportunity for serious introspection.

However, we must be vigilant against the abuse of the UPR process to deny the existence of human rights violations. The United States is deeply troubled by the practices of some countries that seek to avoid criticism and silence those who wish to offer recommendations for legitimate areas of improvement. Practices such as lining up friendly speakers, facilitating the early sign-up of government-operated NGOs, and encouraging government-operated NGOs to submit reports in order to block dissenting opinions, have a particularly chilling effect on the purpose and spirit of the UPR. In doing so, states undermine the international community’s aspirations for the UPR process. This type of obfuscation does nothing to improve the welfare of men and women around the world.

The United States believes that the procedures of the UPR leave themselves open to manipulation. We would like to explore ways to facilitate the true universality of this review by ensuring adequate and fair participation by those who wish to speak in UPR sessions.

We strongly encourage the Council and countries under review to view the UPR process as a means to self-reflection and dialogue. The United States commits to participating fully in the Universal Periodic Review process and looks forward to the review in 2010 of its own record of implementing its human rights obligations and commitments.

Thank you, Mr. President.