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HRC Mandate on Transitional Justice Sends Strong Signal That Victims Have Rights
September 11, 2012

Clustered Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparation, and non-Recurrence

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Arsalan Suleman

Human Rights Council 21st Session
September 11, 2012

The United States welcomes the Working Group’s focus on collecting and analyzing national legislation on private military and security companies.  We view national regulation of private security company activity as the most appropriate and effective way to ensure respect for human rights and accountability for human rights-related abuses and look forward to continuing to learn from the Working Group’s research in this area.  With regard to its reporting on the United States, we hope the Working Group will also take account of the new auditable American National Standards Institute Management System for Quality of Private Security Company Operations, compliance with which is now required in Department of Defense contracts and which we hope, as a matter of good practice, will become an international standard.

The United States also appreciates the Working Group’s support for the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers, thanks the Working Group for its comments on the draft Charter for the Code’s oversight mechanism, and welcomes its continued engagement in this process.  We view this initiative as complementary and supportive of national regulation, and believe it has the potential to help raise industry standards and manage the risk of human rights impacts associated with private security service provision in complex environments.

Finally, for the reasons we have expressed in the context of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on PMSCs, and to use the words of the mandate of that Working Group, the United States is open to “considering the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework” – and, indeed, through the Montreux Document and the Code, the United States is working along this line.  We also remain of the view that national law, regulation and policy can and should be improved, and hope we can work toward that end, too, in the inter-governmental working group.  We were pleased to join in adopting the working group’s conclusions and recommendations a few weeks ago.  But we are not prepared to support “the option of elaborating a legally binding instrument” and believe “other approaches and strategies” are more appropriate.

The United States welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence.  The decision of the Human Rights Council to adopt a special mandate on transitional justice sends a strong signal that impunity for serious human rights violations will not be tolerated and that victims have rights.  This imperative is all the more timely given events in Syria and elsewhere.

We support the SR’s integrated and comprehensive approach to the four elements of his mandate, incorporating the full range of judicial and non-judicial measures including prosecutions; truth-seeking; reparations; lustration (or barring former officials from office), memorialization; and institutional reform.

We support his recognition of the distinctive characteristics of some recent transitions and the need for a comprehensive process of national consultation, particularly with those most affected by human rights abuses and violations in contributing to a holistic transitional justice strategy.  We also agree with his proposed focus on the linkage between these four elements and broader issues such as development, security, and the rule of law, and appreciate his commitment to integrating a gender perspective that takes account of the different needs and opportunities of men, women, and children.

In light of these conclusions, we call upon the members, the international community, and regional organizations to assist countries in implementing a holistic transitional justice program, to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights, and to incorporate best practices into the development and implementation of transitional justice mechanisms.  We look forward to learning more from the work of the Special Rapporteur.