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Ambassador Donahoe: Item 8, General Statement
June 15, 2010

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 14th Session

Geneva, June 15, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President.

The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action reaffirm the universality of human rights and other fundamental principles the United States and others stand for in the Human Rights Council.

Mr. President, today we are joining several important joint statements, in addition to making our own. We applaud the cross-regional nature of all these joint statements, and the message they send about this Council’s ability to address critical human rights situations collectively and constructively. We are very proud of the coalition of over 50 governments [representing every regional group] that has come together under Norway’s leadership to express deep concern about the situation in Iran, and to send our message of support to victims so that they know that the international community has not forgotten them one year after the terrible events around the contested June 2009 election.

We’re also pleased to support a statement by Sweden which calls on the Human Rights Council to seize the opportunity to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of the Internet and other new information and communication technologies, and to oppose actions that unjustifiably seek to restrict its use, thereby threatening the positive impact of these new technologies. Many governments censor and monitor the Internet on vague grounds without respecting the rule of law. We are gravely concerned that around the world people are deprived of their liberty for expressing their views on the Internet. We would like to reiterate that freedom of opinion and expression is fully applicable on the Internet.

Mr. President, one year ago the High Level Panel on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity met to further the important discussions on this topic. We’re pleased to join the cross regional statement delivered by Colombia marking the anniversary of this important panel, but regret to note that in many societies LGBT individuals continue to be vulnerable to discrimination, targeted violence, and criminal sanction. Last month we saw the spectacle of two men convicted of criminal charges on the basis of their sexual identity. While they were subsequently pardoned, we urge nations to stop using sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for arrest or detention, and we deplore and condemn executions and other harsh sentences imposed upon such individuals.

The U.S. is also committed to working with the Human Rights Council to ensure that women’s rights are realized as human rights. In this spirit we’re proud to join the Joint Statement on maternal mortality organized by New Zealand and Colombia. We also strongly support the Elimination of Violence Against Women resolution Canada has put forward and urge member States to support it. In the next session we hope Council members will endorse the mandate creating an Independent Expert to examine laws that discriminate against women. Women’s rights have an important role in the HRC and throughout the UN system, and we look forward to engaging with all members to address the wide range of important issues in this area.

Working with our partners from the high level panel as well as with delegations from all regions, my government will continue its efforts to build understanding and foster dialogue to further the principles of the Vienna Declaration with respect to freedom of expression, gender and sexual identity issues. We know the road is long, but we knew this when we rejoined the Council last year. We look forward to working with all members of this Council in the months and years to come to help make the VDPA’s promise of universal human rights protection for all a reality.

Thank you, Mr. President.