U.S. Closing Statement
33rd Session of the United Nations
Human Rights Council
As Delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
September 30, 2016
The United States strongly supports the resolution establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report on deeply troubling human rights violations and abuses in Burundi. We are pleased that the Council adopted a consensus resolution on Yemen, reaffirming the critically important role of OHCHR in helping establish the facts and circumstances of human rights violations and abuses and in advising on appropriate accountability measures. We welcome the resolution strongly condemning continued serious violations and abuses in Syria and calling for the cessation of violence and a political solution to the conflict there. The renewed mandates on Sudan, Somalia, and the Central African Republic represent other valuable tools the council has maintained. We were also pleased to join two joint statements on the human rights situations in Cambodia and Venezuela.
The United States remains steadfast in our support for civil society. We are greatly disappointed by the efforts by several member states to weaken resolutions on critically important themes such as political participation. We welcome the Council’s recognition of the critical role of journalists, as well as of the need for all countries to work toward creating a safe and enabling environment for journalists, free of harassment, intimidation, and violence.
The Council took an important step in promoting respect for the human rights of indigenous peoples and with its resolution empowering the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to help member states better achieve the goals of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We note that Council resolutions neither change the current state of convention-based or customary international law nor create new legal obligations. The United States understands that any reaffirmation of prior documents in these resolutions applies only to those states that affirmed them initially. We reiterate our concerns regarding the “right to development,” which are longstanding and well known. At the same time, we look forward to continuing to work with our many partners to ensure that our development efforts respect and promote human rights and that development and human rights are, in the words of the Vienna Declaration, mutually reinforcing.
The United States congratulates the Council for the groundbreaking appointment of the independent expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.