Thank you, Assistant Secretary-General Gilmour. And thank you also to the organizers of this meeting, as well as those candidates participating today. This is a pivotal moment for the Human Rights Council. It has the potential to be a tool for change, to amplify the voices of those most vulnerable to human rights violations around the world. But it can only play that role if its membership consists of nations committed to promoting and upholding universal human rights. It is up to the Member States to hold each other accountable. All of us have a vote – we determine what the Human Rights Council will look like going forward, and we must ensure it does not fail those who need it the most.
This type of candidate forum is an integral part of the HRC election process and the United States would like participation to be mandatory for every country running for the Human Rights Council. In particular, I hope that member states who are present today take note of the fact that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not participating in this forum. The DRC has chosen to be absent from this discussion about their human rights record yet they hope that countries will support them in the election.
I would be interested in hearing the views of candidates running for election on this issue of mandatory participation in these forums. In the view of the United States, if a country is not willing to come and answer questions about their human rights record in a transparent manner, then they have no place on the world’s premier human rights body.