"Advancing equality for LGBT persons isn’t just the right thing to do. Its also fundamental to advancing democracy and human rights."
- Secretary of State John Kerry at LGBT Ministerial Event (http://go.usa.gov/DfFw)

President Obama released a message calling on all Kenyans to commit to support the goal of free, fair and peaceful elections on March 4, and underscoring his commitment to the U.S.-Kenya partnership:

This election can be another milestone toward a truly democratic Kenya defined by the rule of law and strong institutions. If you take that step, and reject a path of violence and division, then Kenya can move forward towards prosperity and opportunity that unleashes the extraordinary talents of your people – especially young people. If you continue to move forward, you can build a just Kenya that rejects corruption, and respects the rights and dignity of all Kenyans. More

Human Rights Report – Global Action

DATEFriday, June 29, 2012TIME08:30 (EDT) | 12:30 (UTC)
Time Zone Converter DURATION1h 0mLANGUAGEEnglishREGIONGlobalTHEMESDemocracyDemocracy / Civil SocietyHuman RightsJOINInteractive WebcastDESCRIPTION

URL: http://conx.state.gov/eca  (Short URL: http://goo.gl/JM07f )

Audio-only phone line: +1-202-659-2781, Conference ID: 5004#

Description: On June 29 at 08:30 EDT (12:30 UTC), Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael H. Posner will discuss the Human Rights Reports with Alumni of U.S. Government exchange programs.  Tune in for a live webcast of this unique discussion, and share your views about human rights with the world!

On May 24, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released the 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices at the U.S. Department of State.  The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, commonly known as the Human Rights Reports, provide the facts underlying U.S. efforts to promote respect for human rights worldwide.  They inform U.S. government policymaking and serve as a reference for other governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, scholars, interested citizens, and journalists.   The Human Rights Reports assess each country’s situation against universal human rights standards during each calendar year, and each report stands on its own.  Countries are not compared to each other or placed in any order other than alphabetically by region.  This year, the Department modernized both the format of the reports and the online user interface.

Format: This will be an interactive video webcast in English.  Please click on the URL above to participate.

SPEAKERMichael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

The UN and the Commitment to Democracy in the Middle East

Secretary Clinton (Mar. 12):  ”We, as a community of nations, must help the people of the Middle East and North Africa make the most of the rights and freedoms for which they have risked so much.” Full Text»

Maria Otero: Human Rights Council makes a Significant Impact on the World

Statement by:

Maria Otero
U.S. Under Secretary of State
for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights

19th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, Switzerland
March 2, 2012

When the United States joined the UN Human Rights Council two years ago, we set forth four values that would guide our work in this body: universality, dialogue, principle, and truth.  We knew then, as we know now, that the honest dialogue and dedicated effort of this Council will help all of our nations on the path to international peace and security.

In the two years since, we have stayed true to those values.  But our global challenges remain—among them, threats to freedoms of assembly, association, expression and religion and to vulnerable populations.  As we seek a second term on the Council, the United States stands ready to build on the Council’s successes to pursue solutions to these pressing challenges.  This session provides several opportunities to do so.

Last week in Tunisia, we partnered with the Friends of Syria in a unified commitment to help end the suffering of the Syrian people.  We joined Council members this week to condemn the Asad regime’s ongoing brutal crackdown.

We must extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry launched by the Council, which has effectively performed its intensely difficult mandate with great commitment, so that it can continue to document the atrocities being committed and lay the groundwork for accountability.

Recent efforts on Syria are not the first time the Council has provided an important platform for action.  Last year, this Council created a special rapporteur to monitor the human rights situation in Iran.  Special Rapporteur Shaheed has conducted his work in a spirit of openness and dialogue.  His important work must continue, and I encourage the Council to continue his mandate.

Tomorrow, Iranians will go to the polls for the first time since the 2009 disputed election—a moment when tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to demand their civil rights.  Since then, the regime’s repression and persecution of all who stand up for their universal human rights has only intensified.   The United States stands with religious and political leaders around the world in condemning the conviction of Youcef Nadarkhani’s  and calling for his immediate release.

In Burma, the government has taken substantial and serious steps to improve the human rights situation for its citizens.  We must continue to support this progress by extending the mandate of the special rapporteur. We commend the government for its recent efforts and encourage it to continue discussions with ethnic minority groups—armed or otherwise—on the path to national reconciliation.

The United States will also support renewal of the mandate of the special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  We share the Republic of Korea’s deep concerns regarding the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers from the DPRK in third countries.

We know from experience that there can be no lasting peace without reconciliation and accountability, but the United States is concerned that, in Sri Lanka, time is slipping away.  The international community has waited nearly three years for action, and while we welcome the release of the LLRC report, the recommendations of the report should be implemented. We have engaged Sri Lanka bilaterally on these issues since the conflict ended in 2009, and stand ready to continue to work with them.  Action now in this Council will sow the seeds of lasting peace on the ground.

The United States has worked through this Council to assist countries in transition with their human rights challenges.  We have supported human rights protection and promotion in Kyrgyzstan, Guinea, Haiti and Cote d’ Ívoire, among others.  In our UPR presentation, we addressed our own incomplete journey toward universal human rights, and we admire those countries that speak about their shortcomings as well as their strengths.  We stand ready to help countries ready to address their human rights challenges, and during this session we hope to reach agreement to provide additional assistance to Yemen and Libya.  With the support of this Council, these countries can consolidate democracy and become new beacons of leadership on human rights.

The United States has also worked through this Council to address significant cross-cutting issues that affect all of us, including combating discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.  We were pleased to host the first meeting that seeks to implement Human Rights Council resolution 16/18, and we look forward to adopting a resolution this session that recognizes the important progress we have made.

Resolution 16/18 has proven that this Council can discuss and act upon difficult issues where consensus seems impossible. We also look forward to the upcoming discussion on the human rights of LGBT persons, underscoring that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender does not make you less human.

As States increase pressure on rights and freedoms online, the United States must reiterate that the universal freedoms of expression, assembly and association are as applicable on the Internet and mobile technologies as they are to traditional modes of expression. We are concerned that some States are using new technologies to block content and suppress political dissent, and we encourage States to fulfill their human rights commitments  and obligations in the context of new technologies.

The Council has done a great deal to focus on pressing human rights situations but there are still challenges to address. The United States was disappointed that the Human Rights Council review process did not address the unfair singling out of one country for a permanent agenda item.  The Council will improve its credibility when it eliminates Item 7 and addresses all states under a common rubric.

Lastly, the United States remains gravely concerned about recent violence and continuing tensions in Tibetan areas of China. We call on all governments including China to respect the fundamental freedoms of religion and expression of all of its citizens including members of ethnic minorities.

Human rights have universal application.  All governments, including mine, must respect the human rights of individuals, protect the ability of individuals to exercise their rights, and create mechanisms for transparent and accountable governance.  As we participate in this session and seek a second term on the Human Rights Council, the United States will continue to bridge differences and build consensus with all members.  We believe the Council continues to make a significant impact on the world, and we look forward to being a part of its ongoing progress.

In case you missed it, watch President Obama’s State of the Union Address from last night.  Read the text HERE.

Haiti: Two Year Commemoration of the January 12, 2010, Earthquake

AP Photo

The U.N. and other aid agencies have characterized the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti as the largest urban disaster in modern history.  The earthquake affected an estimated 3 million people, including approximately 1.5 million people displaced to 1,300 settlements sites throughout Port-au-Prince.  One of the biggest challenges following the earthquake has been to provide shelter to those who lost their houses.  The more than 10 million cubic meters of debris created by the earthquake have hindered reconstruction efforts.  Furthermore, unclear property rights and lack of land titles complicated shelter recovery efforts.  The loss of critical records in the earthquake has made identifying the rightful owners of land extremely difficult, and this has exacerbated the problem of identifying land for housing.  

Two years since the earthquake struck Haiti, USAID—working closely with other U.S. Government agencies and the international community, and in support of the Government of Haiti’s objectives—has provided significant support for the emergency response and recovery process, and has provided a base for long-term sustainable development in the areas of infrastructure, energy, economic security, food security, health, education, and democracy and governance.  Together with the Haitian people, the Government of Haiti, and the international community, USAID and the U.S. Government are continuing to help to build a stable and economically viable Haiti.  Click HERE to learn more about what USAID has done since the earthquake.

"For the third time this year, we join a special session to make clear the international community’s grave concerns over the situation in Syria, where the authorities are committing mass atrocities and gross human rights violations against the Syrian people… We once again call on the Syrian regime to immediately admit the Commission of Inquiry and grant it unfettered access throughout Syria. Similarly, Syria must immediately admit Arab League monitors, independent human rights monitors, and humanitarian organizations, with no restrictions on their activities."
- Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, Human Rights Council Special Session on Syria, December 2, 2012 (Full Text)
Secretary Clinton Meets With Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for dinner in Rangoon, Burma, on December 1, 2011. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Secretary Clinton Meets With Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for dinner in Rangoon, Burma, on December 1, 2011. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]


"Building a New Nation: Rwanda’s Progress and Potential":  Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, At the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology

"The United States welcomes the reinstatement today of Libya’s membership rights in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The resolution adopted this morning by the United Nations General Assembly was based on commitments made by the new Libyan government to uphold its obligations under international human rights law, to promote and protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and to cooperate with relevant international human rights mechanisms, as well as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council."

Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

"We must now move together to support the creation of an inclusive, democratic state in which all Libyans, of all backgrounds, have a future and an opportunity to participate in the rebuilding of their country."

Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Meeting on Libya and the International Criminal Court. 11/2/2011.

Libya in Transition: The Significance of U.N. Resolution 1973 and Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa

The efforts to establish justice, security, and the rule of law in Libya offers lessons for other Middle Eastern and North African countries seeking democratic rule. Dean Pittman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, will engage a panel of distinguished experts in a discussion on the establishment of democratic rule in Libya and the importance of the transition to democracy in the region.

The event will be webcast live at www.usip.org/webcast beginning10:00am EDT on October 19, 2011. Online viewers can engage with panelists and each other through a Twitter discussion (Hashtag: # Resolution1973).

U.S. Hosts Rentree Reception Featuring China Moses

On September 21st , the U.S. Mission to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) kicked off the start of the 187th Executive Board by hosting a “Rentrée Reception” for UNESCO’s national delegations at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. 

At the reception, Ambassador David Killion US Permanent Representative to UNESCO,  underscored the fruits of U.S.-UNESCO cooperation over the past year, including in the areas of girls’ education and public-private partnerships.  The Ambassador also looked to future UNESCO projects supported by the United States, including the establishment of two new Category II Centers: the World Center for Women’s Art in Jordan and the Institute of Peace at Rutgers University in the United States, which was co-founded by American Goodwill Ambassador Forest Whitaker.


The United States is also co-sponsoring an Executive Board item commemorating an International Day of Jazz.  In his remarks, Ambassador Killion called jazz “an international treasure that has fused musical traditions, healed wounds and shone as a soundtrack for social justice and democracy.”  “Jazz has bridged races, genders, borders and generations,” he noted. “What better reflection of UNESCO’s timeless message of peace than jazz?” 

In looking to garner support for an International Day of Jazz, the US could certainly have found no better than the China Moses Quartet, which wooed the crowd with its soulful renditions of jazz standards.  The daughter of Dee Dee Bridgewater and the late director Gilbert Moses, Ms. Moses has a voice that moves mountains and a personality that spans oceans.  Her talent and charisma make her a perfect Ambassador for International Jazz Day.  Read More

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