The United States commends the important achievements of the Human Rights Council in promoting and protecting human rights during its recently concluded 21st session. Early in the session, the United States, together with a cross-regional core group comprising the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico, and Nigeria, presented a resolution on the rights of freedom of association and assembly. The resolution, which passed by consensus with more than 60 co-sponsors, reaffirms the importance of respect for the rights of peaceful association and assembly as essential components of democracy. It underscores the key role civil society plays in promoting and protecting civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the crucial role of the Human Rights Council in addressing increasing threats to civil society. The resolution calls upon States to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, a mandate that was established two years ago through a U.S.-led resolution.
The Council also maintained its strong pressure on the Assad regime in Syria, adopting its fifth resolution on that country this year with leadership from Morocco, Qatar, and other members of the Arab Group. The United States was proud to co-sponsor the resolution, which renewed the mandate of the Syria Commission of Inquiry (COI) and enables the COI to continue its important work documenting widespread and systematic crimes against the people of Syria.
We also applaud the African Group for its leadership on a resolution on the human rights situation in the Republic of Mali, the Council’s second resolution on Mali this year. Adopted by consensus, the resolution condemns human rights abuses and violations throughout the country and renews the Council’s call for an immediate end of all human rights violations and acts of violence and destruction of cultural and religious sites.
We are also pleased that the Council, with the African Group’s leadership, adopted a resolution that renewed and strengthened the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sudan. The resolution makes clear that the Independent Expert must have unimpeded access to all parts of society and all areas of the country, including Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and must be able to report findings without hindrance. Sudan’s human rights record is one of persistent abuse, including recent attacks on civilians in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces, and includes severe restrictions on peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. We appreciate the attention this resolution will bring to these abuses as well as the threats facing demonstrators, civil society, and journalists.