Washington, DC - Although the United States is not a voting member of the UN Human Rights Council this year – taking a mandatory year off, while standing for election on October 28 for the 2017-2019 term – it is sustaining robust engagement in the Council and working with countries from all regions to address urgent human rights situations and issues. At the Council’s 33rd Session in Geneva from September 13-30, U.S. leadership proved critical to shaping the international community’s response to these challenges.
Burundi: The United States was a key sponsor of the EU-led resolution on Burundi, which passed 19Yes-7No with 21 Abstentions. The resolution establishes a Commission of Inquiry and highlights the findings of the final report of the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi released on September 20.
Sudan, Somalia, and Central African Republic: The United States supported renewing the mandates of the Independent Experts on Sudan, Somalia, and Central African Republic. The Independent Experts will provide continued reporting on the human rights situations there as well as recommendations for technical assistance and capacity building.
Syria: The United States was a main sponsor of the resolution that drew continued attention to the serious human rights situation in Syria.
Yemen: The United States is pleased that the Council adopted a consensus resolution on Yemen, reaffirming the critically important role of OHCHR in helping establish the facts and circumstances of human rights violations and abuses and in advising on appropriate accountability measures.
Political Participation and Safety of Journalists: The Council adopted two resolutions that address the curtailing of the enjoyment of freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly around the world. The resolution on political participation, led by the Czech Republic, will provide draft guidelines on the implementation of the right to participate in public affairs as set out in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The resolution on safety of journalists impresses upon states the urgency of developing strategies to promote and protect a safe and enabling environment for journalists, free from harassment, intimidation, and violence.
Indigenous issues: The United States co-sponsored resolutions on the rights of indigenous peoples; renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and revising the mandate of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). The EMRIP resolution changed the composition and functions of that body, enabling it to be more responsive to indigenous peoples’ concerns.
Cambodia and Venezuela: The United States joined efforts to heighten attention to the human rights situations in Cambodia and Venezuela. The United States read a joint statement, supported by 38 other countries, expressing concerns about impediments to the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association, as well as condemning the escalation of political tension in Cambodia. Paraguay, on behalf of 29 states including the United States, read a joint statement urging political dialogue and expressing concern for human rights and threats to democracy in Venezuela.
Appointment of Special Procedures Mandate Holders: The United States welcomes the appointment of Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand as the first UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. In addition, we welcome the appointment of Asma Jahangir of Pakistan as the new Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, replacing Dr. Ahmed Shaheed of the Maldives, who will now take on the mandate of Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief.