The outcomes of the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) underscored the importance of robust U.S. engagement at the Council, where the United States continues to work with a diverse range of countries from all regions to address urgent human rights concerns. Among the positive results of this session was the U.S.-led renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association. As a member of the Council, our mission remains to emphasize key human rights issues and vigorously oppose efforts to shield human rights violators.
MULTILATERAL RESPONSES TO COUNTRY SITUATIONS
Syria: The HRC adopted its twelfth resolution on Syria this session with 40 members voting in favor – two more than the last HRC resolution on Syria. Only one state, Venezuela, opposed the resolution, which focused on the use of chemical weapons, accountability, and humanitarian access.
Sudan: The Council renewed the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan for another year, a top priority for the United States. The mandate provides a means to maintain international pressure on Sudan to address ongoing human rights violations and abuses, particularly in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile states.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.): The HRC resolution, co-sponsored by the United States, highlights steps taken by the Government of the D.R.C. to address its human rights challenges, while calling for the Council to convene a high-level panel at the March 2014 session on lessons learned and ongoing challenges in the fight against sexual violence in the Congo and in other post-conflict states.
Central African Republic: The United States co-sponsored a resolution that creates a new independent expert to examine the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic. The resolution notes the need for humanitarian agencies to have full access to the country, while also expressing the importance of respecting freedom of expression in the preparation of a participatory electoral process in advance of elections to be held by February 2015.
Somalia: The United States co-sponsored a resolution renewing the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia. The resolution also calls for the creation of an independent national human rights commission, and includes important new language calling upon the Government of Somalia to ensure the protection and well-being of internally displaced persons and to ensure unfettered access for humanitarian organizations.
Sri Lanka: The United States welcomed the report by High Commissioner Pillay and echoed the High Commissioner’s concerns, in particular regarding restrictions on freedom of expression, attacks on human rights defenders and journalists, and interference with the judiciary. The United States also noted the High Commissioner’s assessment that, absent meaningful progress on post-conflict accountability, calls for an international inquiry will persist.
CROSS-CUTTING HUMAN RIGHTS PRIORITIES
Freedom of Assembly and Association and Civil Society Space: The United States, in close cooperation with the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Mexico, and Nigeria, led the effort to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association for a second three-year term. Through country visits and frequent reports, the Special Rapporteur highlights trends, threats, and opportunities for civil society organizations across the globe. The United States also supported a new resolution urging states to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
Reprisals: The United States cosponsored a resolution on preventing reprisals against persons cooperating with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights. This year’s resolution requests the UN Secretary General designate a UN-wide senior focal point to promote the prevention of, protection against, and accountability for reprisals and intimidation, and to encourage a unified response to such acts throughout the UN system.
Resolutions on Female Genital Mutilation and Early and Forced Marriage: With strong U.S. support, the Council adopted its first resolutions condemning female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage.
Rights of Indigenous Peoples: The Council renewed the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples with strong U.S. support.
Sports and the Olympic Ideal: The Council adopted a resolution on human rights, sports, and the Olympic ideal. After its adoption, the U.S. delivered remarks on the importance of welcoming all minorities and vulnerable persons in sports and the Olympics, noting that this includes all persons regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.