Thank you, Madame President.
The United States welcomes the High Commissioner’s opening statement. At this moment, when the world is witnessing many societies in political upheaval and transition, we appreciate and applaud her central point that accountable, transparent institutions that respect human rights are essential for successful political transitions to strong stable governance. As she notes, the Human Rights Council has led global calls for accountability for gross violations of human rights through its creation and dispatch of international commissions of inquiry to Libya, Syria, and Cote d’Ivoire.
Yet, the Secretary General’s report on “Cooperation with United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights” illustrates that some governments persist in refusing to grant access to international mandate holders, hamper independent assessments, and continue to subject human rights defenders who collaborate with mandate holders to intimidation and reprisals. We concur with the High Commissioner’s assessment that the Human Rights Council must make it a priority to solve the problem of lack of cooperation with UN mechanisms in the field of human rights. As she underscored, the “protection of civilians in situations of violence must be the focus of our collective efforts,” and we agree that gaps between initiatives by the HRC and needs on the ground must be kept in sharp focus so that we live up to our shared responsibility to protect the most vulnerable.
In this session, we look forward to interactive dialogues on Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Belarus, Somalia, and Cambodia.
In the case of Syria, we look forward to hearing the preliminary facts that have emerged about atrocities committed by Syrian authorities. Unfortunately, Syrian authorities prohibited the OHCHR fact finding mission from entering Syria to conduct their investigation, but the FFM will report on credible evidence they have uncovered through other means. The HRC held an urgent session in August to institute an international commission of inquiry to investigate the extremely alarming allegations emerging from Syria and will report later this year as well. The United States commends this body for its sustained efforts in this case.
Close attention by the international community provides hope to the people subject to government brutality, and helps highlight the Syrian regime’s gross human rights abuses. We call on the Syrian government to expeditiously allow the commission of inquiry into the country and allow an unfettered, objective and independent investigation. We also reiterate the Council’s demand for the Syrian government to immediately stop killing, imprisoning, and torturing its people.
The commission of inquiry for Libya has overseen an extremely volatile human rights crisis, and received alarming reports of brutality, mass summary execution, and disappearances. We look forward to learning how we can further support accountability for human rights in Libya.
The High Commissioner has highlighted the serious human rights situation in Sudan and has published a report which describes a wide range of alleged human rights violations in South Kordofan since June of this year. The flare up of violence in the state of South Kordofan is of grave concern to all, and is now spreading to the neighboring border state of Blue Nile. The United States believes that the International Expert mandate for Sudan must be renewed so that monitoring and reporting on this urgent situation can continue.
We join the High Commissioner in welcoming South Sudan as the newest member of the United Nations. We agree that with the assistance of the international community, South Sudan has the opportunity to build a democratic and prosperous country based on the rule of law, good governance and human rights.
We share in the High Commissioner’s concern about inter-communal violence that has killed scores of civilians and put the lives of human rights defenders and UN staff at risk, and will look for ways to support the South Sudanese government as it works to stop the violence.
The High Commissioner also focused on the dire food emergency in the Horn of Africa, where the United States and our partners are racing to save as many lives as possible. The United States is the largest single-country contributor of food and humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa. U.S. humanitarian assistance to the region exceeded $600 million this year, reaching more than 4.6 million people. However, a hunger crisis is not solely an act of God. It is a complex problem of conflict, infrastructure, governance, markets, and education.
In the long term, good governance, human rights, and the rule of law are key to creating the sustainability that can mitigate or even prevent future food crises.
The United States thanks the High Commissioner for her remembrance of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington ten years ago. We condemn all acts of terrorism, and extend our sincere condolences to the victims and their families of the vicious attack on the UN facility in Abuja last month.
Thank you, Madame President.