Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe serves as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council.
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva just concluded its 21st session, which was the last regular session of the United States’ first term on the Council. Since we joined in 2009, working together with a broad range of cross regional partners, we made significant progress across a wide array of important human rights issues.
Early in the session, the United States along with the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico, and Nigeria, presented a resolution on the rights of freedom of association and assembly. The resolution reaffirms the importance of respect for the rights of peaceful association and assembly as essential components of democracy. The resolution calls upon States to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, a mandate that was established two years ago through a U.S.-led resolution.
The Council also maintained its strong pressure on the Assad regime in Syria, adopting its fifth resolution on that country this year. The United States was proud to co-sponsor the resolution, which renewed the mandate of the Syria Commission of Inquiry (COI) and enables the COI to continue its important work documenting widespread and systematic crimes against the people of Syria.
I also want to note the African Group’s leadership on a resolution on the human rights situation in the Republic of Mali, the Council’s second resolution on Mali this year. Adopted by consensus, the resolution condemns human rights abuses and violations throughout the country and renews the Council’s call for an immediate end of all human rights violations and acts of violence and destruction of cultural and religious sites.
The Council, with the African Group’s leadership, also adopted a resolution that renewed and strengthened the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sudan. Sudan’s human rights record is one of persistent abuse, including recent attacks on civilians in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces, and includes severe restrictions on peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. I appreciate the attention this resolution will bring to these abuses as well as the threats facing demonstrators, civil society, and journalists.
So, another positive session but obviously a lot more remains to be done. Just as the HRC is already working on its next session, the United States is also seeking a second term at the Council.
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