Press Statement on the Opening of the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Today the United States joins the UN Human Rights Council at the Council’s 49th regular session. The U.S. return to that body fulfills a pledge made by President Biden and reflects the centrality of human rights to our nation’s foreign policy. The timing of this session could not be more appropriate.
Since the opening moments of Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine, reports of human rights abuses have been widespread. Let there be no confusion: Russia attacked Ukraine because Ukraine dared to pursue a democratic path. Russia’s invasion has damaged and destroyed schools, hospitals, radio stations, and homes, killing and injuring civilians, including children.
On March 1, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will deliver remarks to the assembled Council and will use that opportunity to spell out clearly the threat posed by Russia, while noting that Ukraine is far from the only part of the world where the Council’s attention is needed.
Events in Ukraine only underscore the crucial importance of a credible human rights body dedicated to promoting the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and documenting human rights violations and abuses.
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva Ambassador Sheba Crocker will head the U.S. delegation at this session, supported by recently confirmed Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council Michèle Taylor. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya will join the delegation in Geneva February 28-March 1 for meetings with high-level counterparts and international humanitarian partners.