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Item 10 General Debate – Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
June 17, 2009

UN Human Rights Council 11th Session
Statement by the Delegation of the United States
June 17, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

The primary objective of the Human Rights Council – and the main criterion by which it is to be judged -is to increase the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Do people have greater freedom to express their opinions, to assemble peacefully, to criticize their governments, to practice their religion without fear of persecution because of this body’s actions? Are people able to obtain public services and employment opportunities without fear of discrimination? Can people pursue educational opportunities, without being discriminated against due to factors such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, or national or social origin?

This mandate is indeed a tall order. Many UN member countries contribute greatly to the advancement of human rights in different ways, such as through bilateral assistance programs. But no one country working bilaterally can accomplish what many countries working collectively can achieve.

Our collective support for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is one way the international community effectively takes action to “promote and protect all human rights for all.” Since its founding, the OHCHR has done a noteworthy job in targeted areas around the world in providing technical assistance, preventing human rights abuses and violations, engaging in dialogues with governments to promote greater respect for human rights, and playing an active role in removing obstacles to the realization of human rights.

Through its many presences, the OHCHR has been able to carry out a wide range of activities. Notable accomplishments include: helping draft human rights-related laws in countries such as Burundi, Ethiopia, and Mexico; introducing measures to prevent torture in Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uganda; helping prevent violence in parts of Nepal where OHCHR officers were present; improving prison conditions in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda; and training police officers, prison guards, and judges in more than 30 countries.

The United States is proud to be the OHCHR’s top donor, having given the OHCHR $6.94 million in 2008 and $8 million in 2009. We greatly support this Office’s important work and firmly believe the OHCHR must maintain its complete independence in order to carry out its job to the fullest.

Thank you, Mr. President.