Remarks at a Third Committee General Discussion on Human Rights

Jonathan Shrier
U.S. Deputy Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
October 17, 2023


Thank you, Madam Chair.

First, I must point out that terrible details continue to emerge about the brutality of Hamas terrorists’ condemnable slaughter of more than 1,300 civilians in Israel – from babies to aging Holocaust survivors – and the taking of scores of hostages, including American citizens.

Israel, like all countries, has the right to defend its country and its people. Hamas bears responsibility for sparking the current war.

President Biden will arrive in Israel tomorrow to demonstrate steadfast support for Israel in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack. Then in Jordan he will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza.

Madam Chair, Palestinian civilians in Gaza should not have to suffer for Hamas’s atrocities.

As Secretary Blinken said, “We are now very actively engaged with countries in the region, with the United Nations, with Israel, to make sure to the best of our ability that people can get out of harm’s way and that the assistance they need, the food and water and medicine, can get in.”

Mr. Chair, the United States underscores the continuing importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as we celebrate its 75th year.

In South Sudan, we note with concern the lack of progress during the transitional period to move to a democratically elected government.

In Uganda, we are deeply troubled by the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a law that undermines the human rights, prosperity, and welfare of all Ugandans.

We condemn the ongoing violence in Sudan, especially reports of killings based on ethnicity and widespread sexual violence by the Rapid Support Forces and allied militias. We call on all parties to immediately cease attacks and end abuses.

We are concerned about diminishing humanitarian access to Yemen’s most vulnerable, exacerbated by Houthi restrictions on the movement of women. We reaffirm our support for an independent accountability mechanism. We call for the release of nine locally employed U.S. Embassy staff who have been unjustly detained in Sana’a for over a year and a half.

We condemn the DPRK’s abhorrent human rights record and urge states to uphold their responsibility not to refoul individuals, including DPRK nationals in their territory in need of protection.

We are concerned that the PRC government continues to perpetrate genocide in Xinjiang; severely repress Tibetans and their distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural identity; undermine fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong; and impose draconian controls on freedom of expression and other human rights across the country. We will maintain our efforts to promote accountability.

In Belarus, we are appalled that the regime holds nearly 1,500 political prisoners. We call for an end to the systemic crackdown on civil society and independent media and urgently call for the release of all those unjustly detained.

We deplore Russian authorities’ harsh repression of anti-war expression and peaceful assembly, including the arrest of more than 500 political prisoners. We call on the Kremlin to end impunity for human rights abusers who target journalists, human rights defenders, religious minorities, and pro-democracy activists.

In Syria, the regime continues to carry out arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, unfair trials, torture, sexual violence, and extrajudicial killings. We call on all parties to engage in good faith with the new Independent Institution on Missing Persons in Syria to clarify the fate and whereabouts of the 155,000 persons.

We are deeply concerned by a global trend of backsliding on women’s rights in many contexts, particularly in Afghanistan. We urge the international community to press the Taliban to reverse course and respect the human rights of women and girls.

We call on Iran to halt arbitrary arrests, release political prisoners, allow free access to the internet, and cooperate with the Fact-Finding Mission. We condemn the executions of peaceful protestors, torture of detainees, and laws that discriminate against women and members of religious and ethnic minority groups.

Authorities in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba continue to unjustly detain activists, journalists, and peaceful protestors. We call on them to end this repression, free all political prisoners, and restore fundamental rights of their citizens.

Thank you.