Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America, as delivered by Jason Mack
UN Human Rights Council – 35th Session
Geneva, June 19, 2017
Thank you, Mr. President.
Since its establishment, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process has provided a unique mechanism to promote accountability for human rights commitments. The UPR process has offered an invaluable opportunity for states to reflect upon their own records of respect for human rights, through direct and open dialogue with other States and with civil society.
While many States have benefited from these exchanges and subsequently implemented reforms inspired or reinforced by their participation in the UPR process, the United States remains concerned about ongoing efforts by some States to stifle the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Although NGOs do not officially participate during formal UPR working group presentations, their voices are invaluable. Civil society provides an alternative perspective to the narrative of States through their independent data collection, and firsthand accounts by victims of human rights abuses. Civil society should be able to organize side events on the margins of UPR working group presentations and participate in UPR briefings without fear of harassment, intimidation, or reprisals, whether at home or abroad.
Given this, we remain concerned about the Bahraini government’s use of travel restrictions and, in some cases, intimidation against members of civil society. These efforts prevented robust civil society attendance at Bahrain’s May UPR session.
The United States urges all UN member states to take all possible measures to encourage the engagement of NGO and civil society actors in the UPR process, including removing or refraining from imposing arbitrary measures designed to prevent their participation.
The United States remains vigilant in ensuring that those who seek to expose human rights violations and abuses have the opportunity to participate in all of the HRC’s processes, including the UPR process.