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GS: Resolution On Civil Society Space
September 27, 2013


General Statement

Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 24th Session
September 27, 2013

As Delivered


The United States is proud to co-sponsor the Human Rights Council’s first resolution on creating and maintaining, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for civil society.  We thank Ireland for this leadership.  This timely resolution underscores the important role civil society plays both in the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, and in providing expertise and advocacy within the UN system.  We recognize the importance of states’ commitment to creating an enabling environment for civil society and encourage all states to work together and with relevant regional, UN, and civil society mechanisms in this effort.  Just this past week, heads of state, civil society, multilateral organizations, and private foundations gathered in New York at an event President Obama hosted on the margins of UNGA to consider ways to improve the policy environment for civil society.  Participants discussed strengthening adherence to international norms and promoting best practices for government and civil society engagement and ways to resist the increasing restrictions being placed on civil society.

The text we are adopting today includes a reference to “realizing the right to development” in a long list of challenges with respect to which civil society plays a role.  While development is a goal we all aim to achieve, important work is needed to build consensus on the relationship between development and human rights.

The United States thanks Ireland and the other core group members – Tunisia, Sierra Leone, Japan, and Chile – for the open and transparent negotiations they facilitated, and notes the spirit of flexibility and compromise that characterized those negotiations.  In that context, we regret the decision of certain states – at the last hour – to table numerous amendments introducing new elements that are not central to the subject of creating and maintaining civil society space.  In light of the extensive consultations that took place after these states proposed the amendments, we are particularly disappointed that these states chose to call votes today on these amendments.

This is not how the Council should operate.  We join the core group in calling on member states to vote “no” on these hostile amendments, and to support the text as proposed.