Item 10: General Debate
October 1, 2015
As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
Thank you, Madam Vice-president.
The UN’s mission to promote full respect for all human rights is not solely one of advocacy and reporting – though these functions are plainly critical. To truly achieve our shared goal, the United Nations must also work to assist governments to identify areas of concern and assist in the design and implementation of human rights protections. The United States commends OHCHR and countries that are cooperating with it to promote the protection of human rights. We also call on countries with ongoing challenges to consider the role the UN can play in improving their domestic situation.
In Thailand, the government continues to restrict fundamental freedoms, prosecute civilians in military courts, and place civilians in military detention without due process of law. We are concerned by the persistent intimidation of opposition leaders and journalists, which contributes to self-censorship. We urge the government to fully restore civil liberties and return Thailand to a civilian democratic government through free and fair elections as soon as possible. It should commit to an inclusive process that results in a constitution that protects human rights and strengthens the rule of law and democratic institutions.
Finally, we are very concerned about the ongoing conflict in Yemen. We are particularly troubled by the dire humanitarian situation, violence, and shelling by Houthi militias and other armed groups, often in heavily populated civilian areas. We are deeply concerned by reports of civilian deaths and damage to civilian infrastructure caused by coalition airstrikes. As the conflict in Yemen escalates, the devastation and effect on the civilian population has increased. We continue to strongly support the UN-led process and efforts of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen to bring the Yemeni parties back to the table without preconditions and toward a political dialogue that will end the fighting and help create a sustainable path forward.