UN Human Rights Council 20th Session opened yesterday. Action on Syria, Belarus Among top US Priorities

Thank you, Madame President.

Thank you, Madame High Commissioner.  The United States would once again like to thank the High Commissioner and your office for all the work that you do throughout the world in order to promote and protect human rights. Your statement highlights the vital role your office plays as an independent monitor and first responder to human rights situations worldwide.  Civil society actors, citizens, and governments look to you for leadership, and the significance and impact of your office depends upon your ability to speak out for victims in real time and hold governments accountable.

During this session, the United States will work with partners to consolidate and build upon the progress the Council has made in the protection of women, children, and victims of trafficking.  The United States will work with Botswana, Colombia, Iraq, Mexico, Slovakia, and Turkey to pursue a resolution on the right to a nationality, particularly for women and children, in order to underline the importance of the right to nationality for all – without discrimination.  We hope that all states will join in our initiative, keeping in mind that the protection and promotion of the human rights of women reverberates positively throughout societies and brings about positive change and progress for all.

Recent events continue to underscore the fundamental importance of free speech and the power of peaceful demonstrations.  The world has watched as governments tightened restrictions on communications as a means to suppress national dialogue and dissent.  During this session, we are pleased to join with Brazil, Nigeria, Tunisia, Turkey and  Sweden to present a resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet.  As an open platform for ideas and innovation, the Internet is a catalyst for economic growth and development.  We will continue to call upon governments to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms both online and off.

Some believe that the Human Rights Council should not address country-specific situations.  We disagree.  The credibility of the UN’s human rights machinery depends on its capacity to address urgent and persistent human rights situations where and when they emerge; to make a difference in the lives of the people who suffer under oppressive governments; and to protect those around the world who work to advance the cause of human rights.

The United States is gravely concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus since the last presidential election, particularly the continued suppression of the rights to freedoms of association, assembly, and expression; the right to a fair trial; and continued politically-motivated detentions.

The Council recently held a fourth Special Session on the human rights situation in Syria, with a particular focus on the tragic massacre in Al Houleh.  We welcome the recent report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry for Syria, and look forward to its focused report on the events in Al Houleh.  Once again we call on the government of Syria to allow full and unfettered access to the COI.  The United States demands an end to the Asad regime’s outrageous crimes against the people of Syria.  Those who committed these atrocities must be identified and held accountable.  The United States will work with all who are willing to demand justice for the people of Syria and we especially urge countries that have influence with Syria to join us in this and in other efforts that will help halt the violence.

Thank you, Madame President.

Universal Periodic Review – 13th Session

The 13th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Session is occurring from May 21 – 31 and is the beginning of the second cycle of reviews.  

The United States believes the UPR has the potential to effect real change in countries throughout the world.  The UPR is not just something that occurs in Geneva every four and half years.  It is an ongoing, daily tool to advance human rights.  Our interventions to other countries are crafted with the goal of providing useful, targeted recommendations that, when implemented, will create positive change for society.

Please click here for the United States’ interventions to the 14 countries participating in Session 13. 

Assistant Secretary Brimmer to Lead U.S. Delegation at World Press Freedom Day Conference in Tunis, Tunisia

Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer will travel to Tunis, Tunisia from May 2 to May 6 to represent the United States at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day conference.

While in Tunis, Assistant Secretary Brimmer will deliver remarks at the opening ceremony of the World Press Freedom Day conference. Assistant Secretary Brimmer will also meet with senior Tunisian government officials, regional journalists, and civil society representatives as part of the Secretary’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society, which aims to elevate U.S. government engagement with civil society worldwide and provide a framework for civil society involvement in policymaking.

For updates, follow Assistant Secretary Brimmer on twitter @State_IO.

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»

U.S. Department of State: Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Participates in London Conference on Somalia


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, third right, makes an address as Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, bottom left, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, second right, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, right, listen during the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London, United Kingdom, on February 23, 2012. [AP Photo]

More: Interactive Travel Map | Trip Page | Special Briefing To Preview Conference on Somalia

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined heads of state and foreign ministers from over 50 countries, as well as representatives of the United Nations and the African Union, at the London Conference on Somalia. Hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the conference is dedicated to building stability and peace in Somalia. Secretary Clinton discussed the importance of cutting al-Shabaab’s remaining financial lifelines, strengthening development and fighting piracy.… more »

"We can start by asking what’s missing from most peace talks and the agreements they produce. One answer to that question is women. In the past 20 years, hundreds of peace treaties have been signed. But a sampling of those treaties shows that less than 8 percent of negotiators were women. Now, there is a clear moral argument – after all, women do represent half of humanity and they have, we have, a fundamental right to participate in the decisions that shape our lives. But the moral argument has so far failed to change behavior on the front lines, where it matters most. So we need to move the discussion off the margins and into the center of the global debate, and we frankly have to appeal to the self-interest of all people, men as well as women. Because including more women in peacemaking is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. This is about our own national security and the security of people everywhere. Tonight I want briefly to examine the growing body of evidence that shows how women contribute to making and keeping peace – and that those contributions lead to better outcomes for entire societies."
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Keynote Address at the International Crisis Group’s “In Pursuit of Peace” Award Dinner
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