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Statement by Ambassador Donahoe on Completion of the 15th Session of the HRC
October 1, 2010

Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

On the Completion of the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council

October 1, 2010

The Human Rights Council made historic progress this session in advancing the rights of human rights defenders throughout the world.  First and foremost, this council established the first-ever Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association that will provide a strong, independent and credible voice to highlight the growing threats to assembly, association and civil society, while developing best practices for the protections of those rights.   Its creation addresses one of the United States’ top priorities at the council – to make it more effective in defending human rights on the ground throughout the world.

The renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the Sudan is another important and welcome step by the council this session.  By renewing this mandate, the Human Rights Council demonstrated its resolve to remain constructively engaged in one of the burning political and human rights issues of the day. The United States remains committed to supporting the Human Rights Council’s efforts to ensure the protection of human rights in Sudan.

This session the Human Rights Council also made important progress in addressing discrimination of women, another priority for the United States.  I am very pleased the United States was a cosponsor of the resolution which created a working group of experts to address discrimination against women.  The consensus adoption of this resolution moves the international community a step closer to realizing the goal that women everywhere enjoy all human rights without prejudice or discrimination.

I also recognize the forward movement made on other important human rights issues this session. While the situation remains acute, I welcome the council’s engagement on the issue of the mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  This showed the council’s ability to react to real events in real time and to contribute its voice to this important issue.  The council also held sessions on the human rights situation in Somalia, including a side-event and a report by the Independent Expert on the situation there.  Finally, our delegation was pleased to co-sponsor a panel the panel “Ending Violence and Criminal Sanctions based on Sexual Orientation,” and welcomed the important discussion held on this issue.

Despite this clear and substantive progress, I am fully aware that the Human Rights Council remains an imperfect institution.  Both the flawed Goldstone Report and the unbalanced conclusions in the report of the Fact-finding Mission on the Flotilla are examples of this, and the United States voted against both of these issues.  The United States must and will remain engaged in the Council while working to strengthen the Council’s role as a constructive player in addressing human rights issues.

Our priorities remain the same.  Working closely with like-minded states, we are committed to enabling the Human Rights Council to make a difference on the ground for human rights defenders and victims, to enhancing the council’s efficacy in addressing crisis and chronic human rights situations, and to helping the council fulfill its potential as the lead entity within the U.N. system for promoting and protecting human rights.