President Šuc, the United States appreciates your efforts in two key areas. First, to improve the Council’s work and efficiency. Second, to protect human rights advocates from reprisals. Thank you for your leadership.
Looking ahead to the 2021 review process, when do you think it is appropriate for the General Assembly to initiate discussions in advance of the review? Would you support efforts to initiate the process in 2019?
At the outset, we acknowledge the Council’s recent positive step in putting forward a resolution to address the systematic human rights abuses in Venezuela, which the United States first called for last year in Geneva during a U.S.-led side-event.
The deteriorating human rights situation in Venezuela deserves increased international attention – not only for the regional refugee crisis it has created, but also for the human rights violations that continue to plague the its citizens.
In this limited progress, we see the promise of a body that should be the leading human rights body in the international system. It reinforces our willingness to, one day, reengage with a reformed, improved, and strengthened Human Rights Council worthy of its name whose membership, agenda, and work fully reflect the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all human beings.
Nevertheless, the overall credibility of the Council remains severely tarnished. Three weeks ago, several countries with some of the worst human rights records were once again elected to the Council.
The HRC has not addressed China’s detention of hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of Muslims in so-called “re-education” camps and the widespread violation of the rights of other religious minorities; nor the arbitrary detention and torture of human rights defenders and lawyers in China, and ongoing reprisals against Chinese who attempt to engage the UN human rights system.
In addition, the Council’s institutional bias against Israel, which undermines efforts for lasting peace in the region, continues unchecked. For example, the Council has repeatedly failed to address the Palestinian leadership’s campaign of abusive detention and alleged torture of journalists and activists, but this May it passed a resolution calling for an investigation of Israeli abuses in Gaza.