Office of the Spokesperson
June 26, 2017
At the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva from June 6-23, U.S. leadership proved critical to shaping the international response to urgent human rights situations. U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley attended the opening of the session and confirmed the U.S. commitment to human rights while reinvigorating discussions on reform of the HRC. In her address in the HRC chamber and a speech at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Ambassador Haley laid out the United States’ position on future involvement with the Human Rights Council. She highlighted the need for reform of the HRC to make it more effective and accountable, including by eliminating the biased agenda item focused solely on Israel. She underscored the need for the HRC to focus international attention and action on the worst human rights violators, including through reforms to the Council’s membership, and the need for members to show leadership in cooperating with UN human rights mechanisms. The United States joined 47 other states in signing a Dutch-led joint statement proposing measures to improve the Council’s membership and strengthen its credibility.
Democratic Republic of Congo: The United States joined consensus on a resolution establishing an international team that will investigate reports of atrocities occurring in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and we issued a strong statement calling for the Government of the DRC to cooperate with the investigation, provide it unhindered access to all areas of the country, ensure the safety of all who cooperate with it, including victims and witnesses, and ensure accountability for all perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses, regardless of their political affiliation.
Venezuela: On June 6, the United States sponsored (with co-sponsors UK, Georgia, and Israel) a landmark side event on Venezuela to draw attention to the deteriorating human rights situation there. Ambassador Haley provided opening remarks, which were followed by a panel discussion among four human rights defenders from Venezuela and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Following the event, the United States condemned reprisals by the Venezuelan delegation against two of the panelists.
Gender Equality: The United States joined consensus on resolutions on eliminating violence against women and discrimination against women and girls. We also co-sponsored resolutions to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteurs on trafficking in persons and on child, early, and forced marriage in humanitarian settings.
Other Country-specific Resolutions: The United States co-sponsored a resolution on the egregious violations and abuses of human rights in Syria, particularly violations by the government. We also co-sponsored a resolution welcoming the Ukrainian government’s cooperation with UN human rights monitors. The United States continued our strong support for the mandates of the special rapporteurs on Belarus and on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, and we supported a Presidential Statement on Cote d’Ivoire to encourage continued cooperation between the government and the UN on human rights.
Other Thematic Resolutions: The United States cosponsored resolutions on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism and to extend the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the rights of persons with disabilities and on the independence of judges and lawyers, as well as of the Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations.