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Statement by Ambassador Betty E. King: Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
March 4, 2010

Human Rights Council (Archive Photo)

Interactive Dialogue following the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/13/26)


Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Betty E. King

Human Rights Council 13th Session
Geneva, March 4, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President.

Thank you, Madame High Commissioner, for your report to this 13th Session of the Human Rights Council.  I am pleased to take the floor of the Council for the first time in the context of a dialogue with you.

The United States deeply appreciates your and your staff’s dedication to better implementation of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We commend the treaty bodies’ assistance to states parties in implementing their treaty obligations.  We also applaud the special procedures mandate holders for taking a more proactive approach to preventing human rights violations, in part by drawing the international community’s attention to emerging issues and global crises.

We would like to particularly commend the successes of the OHCHR Rapid Response Unit, which has deployed human rights personnel following crises in Honduras, Madagascar and Gabon.  We welcome OHCHR’s support for the Commission of Inquiry established in Guinea; we support the Commission’s proposal for a new field office that could strengthen the new government’s ability to promote and protect human rights.  We also deeply appreciate your efforts to shine a light on the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular as regards widespread sexual violence.

The United States appreciates OHCHR’s contributions in a number of thematic areas.  We commend your excellent work on women’s rights and gender, especially in the area of sexual violence in conflict and in the development of gender strategies in a number of countries.  Moreover, we laud your commitment to step up efforts to promote and protect women’s rights.

The US strongly supports OHCHR’s work at the country and regional levels.  We are pleased that the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region is now operational in Doha.  We commend Mauritania’s decision to sign an agreement to establish a country office and that of Uganda to extend its agreement with OHCHR.  We are pleased that Nepal is engaging to renew its own agreement with OHCHR, and look forward to the continuation of all aspects of OHCHR’s fruitful work in Nepal.

On a different note, your report mentions several cases of persons being killed after meeting with special procedures mandate holders.   We are deeply disturbed by this development, and we would like to reiterate that all States must ensure that all who are in contact with mandate holders remain free from reprisals.

We have three follow-up questions about your report:

  • First, the United States strongly believes in the integrity of OHCHR.  How do you as High Commissioner envision retaining your Office’s independence from the UN’s political bodies, which serve fundamentally different purposes?
  • Secondly, the United States notes that, unfortunately, this last year has seen an increase in arbitrary arrests for peaceful demonstrations – as you just noted in the example of Iran.  How do you envision the work of your office in protecting fundamental freedoms and addressing violations of these freedoms in the future?
  • Last, your report mentioned your office’s role in the inter-agency group that will establish the team of experts called for in Security Council Resolution 1888, relating to sexual violence as a weapon of war.  We would be interested to hear more about this role, including any progress being made in naming and deploying the team of experts.

Thank you again for your report—and for your work.  Thank you, Mr. President