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U.S. Statement in the General Debate on the Opening Day of the 30th Session of the HRC
September 14, 2015

Agenda Item 2, General Debate

Statement of the United States of America

Erin M. Barclay
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of International Organization Affairs

30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

September 14, 2015, Geneva

(As prepared for delivery)


Erin M. Barclay, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Erin M. Barclay, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs

Thank you Mister President,

The United States appreciates the High Commissioner’s report and supports the work of the Office to promote and protect human rights world-wide. We support continuing and expanding the High Commissioner’s work on the human rights aspects of preventing and countering violent extremism, among the many important areas that OHCHR is engaged.

The United States welcomes the High Commissioner’s attention to the escalating refugee crisis impacting Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. We remain deeply concerned by the worsening situation in Syria that is driving much of this flow of refugees. The regime and ISIL have shown no respect for international humanitarian law. Medical facilities, markets, and schools are bombed incessantly and without hesitation as the international community struggles to respond to the scale of the needs. Today, nearly half the pre-war population of Syria is displaced, either internally or as refugees. We maintain our strong support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, in his ongoing work towards a political solution for Syria.

We eagerly anticipate the release of the report on Sri Lanka. The United States will engage with the government of Sri Lanka with the objective to develop a resolution that will gain the consensus support of this Council and will assist Sri Lanka in achieving meaningful and credible accountability as well as address the important findings of the OHCHR investigation report.

The human rights situation in Sudan remains of grave concern. The continuing conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile has led to violations of international humanitarian law by all sides, and continuing human rights violations and abuses. The most serious incidents reported included those involving indiscriminate bombings and deliberate attacks on civilians, widespread forced displacement of civilians, restrictions on humanitarian assistance and movement, and sexual and gender-based violence. Serious restrictions on fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion are deeply troubling.

The United States welcomes the High Commissioner’s attention to the worsening spiral of retaliatory violence and the failure to disarm armed groups in Burundi. We continue to encourage the Government of Burundi, opposition‎ parties, and civil society to engage in a regionally mediated dialogue in the spirit of the Arusha Agreement.

We support the joint statement on Bahrain and call on the government to expeditiously sign an MOU with OHCHR for technical cooperation. We are deeply concerned about the continuing criminal cases on grounds of political expression and assembly and by the practice of withdrawing Bahraini nationality from some citizens as a means to stifle dissent.

The United States welcomes the robust attention paid by the High Commissioner, his office, and relevant special procedures to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The “Free and Equal” campaign is a model for empowering diverse voices in the promotion of human rights. We must continue to work together to address alarmingly high rates of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons, a challenge in the United States itself, and bring an end to discriminatory practices that target these persons.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the High Commissioner on these issues, among many others.

Thank you Mister President.