Joint Statement under Item 8

The United States was proud to lead the following statement on behalf of a group of 53 countries.

Joint Statement under Item 8
at the 46th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

As Delivered by Mark Cassayre
Chargé d’affaires, U.S. Mission Geneva

on behalf of a group of countries

March 18, 2021

Madame President, I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of nearly 50 countries.

We have heard a great deal during the current HRC session about the importance of non-interference in domestic affairs.

In response to these points, we have a very simple position. States that commit human rights violations must be held to account.

The UN Charter acknowledges the domestic jurisdiction of member states. But it also affirms that human rights are universal – appeals to “State sovereignty” cannot be used to shield a country from scrutiny for its behavior toward those within its borders. Indeed, this notion lies at the very foundations of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this very Council. The Human Rights Council has the responsibility to act when states are not meeting their obligations – a responsibility articulated in UNGA resolution 60/251.

The fact is, it is the responsibility of every state to uphold their international human rights obligations and to ensure that human rights violations and abuses are addressed, including holding those responsible to account. As is clear in the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, it is the obligation of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Despite our different histories and domestic legal systems, we have a shared responsibility to address global challenges with a global response.

No country – including our own – can claim to have a perfect record on human rights. But we can and must strive to do better and there is a great deal more that all of us can do to promote and protect human rights domestically. Attempts by states to deflect criticism by blaming others do not diminish their responsibility to protect their own populations.

We invite all present at this session to devote their energies to protecting the human rights of individuals everywhere, rather than shielding governments from criticism.

Signatories as of Tuesday, March 23 (53)

Albania

Andorra

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Brazil

Bulgaria

Canada

Chile

Colombia

Costa Rica

Croatia

Cyprus

Czechia

Denmark

Estonia

Eswatini

Finland

France

Georgia

Germany

Greece

Iceland

Ireland

Italy

Japan

Latvia

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malta

Marshall Islands

Moldova

Monaco

Montenegro

Netherlands

New Zealand

North Macedonia

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Republic of Korea

Romania

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Ukraine

United Kingdom

United States

Vanuatu