An official website of the United States government

Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein
March 8, 2018

As delivered by Jason Mack.
37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Geneva, March 8, 2018

Thank you Mister President.

High Commissioner, the United States thanks you for your remarks and for your unwavering advocacy to promote the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world during your tenure.

Today, we want to reiterate U.S. concerns over reprisals targeting the special procedures of this Council, the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner, and civil society actors who cooperate with the Human Rights Council and its mandates, and with the UN more generally.  Within the last few months, several mandate holders have informed us of reprisals or threats made against them in Geneva, including at Palais Wilson, and on country trips.  This is a disturbing development, and we call upon you and the members of the Human Rights Council Bureau to take urgent action to address States who engage in reprisals against members of civil society and UN mandate holders and staff.

We are also concerned by steps taken by some states to restrict civil society members, including their ability to interact with OHCHR and the Council.  States have used travel bans, threats against family members, and various other tactics to stifle the voices of civil society.  Civil society should be able to organize side events and participate in the work of this Council and OHCHR without fear of harassment, intimidation, or reprisals, whether at home or abroad.

The United States urges all states to encourage the engagement of NGO and civil society actors in the work of the HRC and OHCHR, including by removing or refraining from imposing arbitrary measures designed to prevent their participation.

High Commissioner:  Can you provide an update on OHCHR’s recent efforts to combat the rise in reprisals targeting HRC special procedures and members of civil society who cooperate with the Council, its mechanisms, and OHCHR?  How can the Bureau provide additional support to these efforts?

Additionally, could the High Commissioner please clarify his views on the relationship between the undefined concept of ‘win-win’ cooperation and the human rights framework that underpins the work of this Council, including the UDHR and VDPA?

Thank you.