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Ambassador Harper Opening Day Statement at 27th Session of the Human Rights Council
September 8, 2014

Item 2 General Debate – Report of the High Commissioner

Ambassador Harper
Ambassador Harper addresses the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on its opening day.

Statement by the United States of America
27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

As Delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper

September 8, 2014

Thank you, Mr. President.

I would first like to extend my congratulations and welcome to the new High Commissioner.  The United States looks forward to working with you.  We also extend thanks to outgoing High Commissioner Pillay for her stewardship of OHCHR, especially the leadership she showed in focusing the world’s attention on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and encouraging meaningful accountability and respect for human rights in Sri Lanka.

Just one week ago, we gathered in this chamber to focus on the scourge of terror ISIL is committing in Iraq.  We condemn the heinous acts this organization is perpetrating, not just in Iraq, but also in Syria. American journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff – are just two of ISIL’s countless victims.  ISIL is engaging in unlawful killings, torture, sexual assault, and enslavement.  We look forward to hearing from the OHCHR mission created last week.

The United States also looks forward to OHCHR’s report on Sri Lanka, and we once again call upon the government there to cooperate with the investigation.  We commend the governments of Ukraine and the Central African Republic for their continued support of human rights monitoring missions in their countries.  Both nations have demonstrated the value of positive engagement with the UN to improve human rights at home.

The United States thanks the High Commissioner’s office for its work on the situation in Sudan.  Over the past year, the situation in Sudan has significantly deteriorated.  We are gravely concerned by reports of the targeting of civilians and humanitarian personnel and infrastructure, unlawful killings, and arbitrary arrests and prolonged detentions without due process.  We are equally disturbed by reports of torture and restrictions on the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and religion.  We call upon this Council to ensure that its approach regarding Sudan includes robust monitoring and reporting, and not only the provision of technical assistance.

Around the world, the United States remains concerned about increasing restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and peaceful association.  The shrinking space for civil society in many nations limits discussion and debate.  It threatens the promotion of human rights, and in too many places, the lives of defenders and their families.  The United States wholeheartedly supports the initiative on civil society space that Ireland will introduce during this session.

On these issues, among many others, we look forward to working closely with the new High Commissioner over the course of his tenure.

Thank you Mister President.