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Interactive Dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein – Item 2
March 5, 2015

Agenda Item 2

As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper,
U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council

UNHRC – 28th Session

March 5, 2015

The United States thanks High Commissioner Zeid for his report.

We welcome the High Commissioner’s leadership in engaging with the Government of Sri Lanka, which led to the extension of the release of the OHCHR investigation’s report.  We look forward to receiving the report before this Council’s September session and hope to see evidence in it of the Sri Lankan government’s actions to promote human rights, reconciliation, and accountability in Sri Lanka, consistent with its promises of cooperation noted in the High Commissioner’s report.

We welcome the High Commissioner’s pragmatic approaches to addressing critical human rights situations globally, including his comments on the precarious situation in Libya.  Parties on all sides of the conflict have committed human rights violations with impunity.  UNSMIL’s efforts, including its work on promoting and protecting human rights, have become increasingly important as the security situation has deteriorated.  We look forward to supporting further efforts.

We are deeply concerned with steps taken by Egypt that have resulted in violations of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, deprived thousands of fair trial guarantees, and undermined civil society’s role.  We join the High Commissioner to call on the Egyptian government to release those detained solely for their expression or membership in a political group.  Egypt should ensure that all detainees individually receive full and fair trials.

We thank High Commissioner Zeid for his report detailing the OHCHR’s six thematic priorities.  We remain interested in learning about the OHCHR’s continuing efforts to improve cost savings and create efficiencies.

We also salute the office’s country-specific work.  We are pleased about the OHCHR office that will soon open in Seoul – which will document the serious human rights violations committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

We note as well the importance of opening the OHCHR office in Honduras – which will help build the country’s capacity to address violence and impunity.

We further support calls to fulfill the promise for OHCHR to open a fully-mandated office in Burma in the near future.

We encourage OHCHR in its efforts to work with the Governments of Morocco and Algeria, respectively, to organize visits to Western Sahara and the camps near Tindouf as early as possible.

We commend OHCHR’s groundbreaking work regarding violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  We look forward to the upcoming report and support OHCHR’s continued work, including its innovative Free & Equal campaign.

Finally, we appreciate the High Commissioner’s comments on the many places and ways in which his office plays a crucial role in combatting impunity.  What, in your view, are OHCHR’s unique advantages in the fight against impunity?