Remarks at a Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk

Jonathan Shrier
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
October 10, 2023


Mr. High Commissioner: First, I must reiterate that the United States is outraged by and condemns unequivocally the appalling attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza.

As President Biden stated, “The United States stands with the people of Israel in the face of this terrorist assault.” Terrorism is never justified, and Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop.

We reiterate our ironclad support for Israel’s exercise of its inherent right to defend itself in the face of this unjustified attack.

These terrorist attacks have serious consequences for the attainment of human rights. There are two paths before the region. There’s the path of greater integration, greater stability, including, critically, making sure that Israelis and Palestinians resolve their differences or there’s the path of terror that Hamas is engaged on, that has not improved the lives of a single person. On the contrary, it’s destroyed lives, including Palestinian lives.

We thank the High Commissioner for his update and underscore our support for OHCHR’s efforts to advance human rights, including the recommitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The United States is gravely concerned about the human rights situations in Afghanistan, Belarus, the DPRK, Ethiopia, Iran, Myanmar, and Syria, as well as the massive violations of human rights caused by Russia in Ukraine. We will address those situations in detail during this session.

We also condemn the genocide and crimes against humanity that People’s Republic of China authorities are perpetrating in Xinjiang against Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups; the suppression of Tibetans’ and other minority groups’ distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural identities; and the crackdown on Hong Kong.

Russia’s forces have committed horrific atrocities and other abuses in Ukraine. We condemn Russia’s forcible transfers and deportations of Ukrainian civilians, including children, and its abusive filtration operations and mistreatment of Ukrainian civilians. We are also concerned that Russia has dramatically intensified suppression of dissent domestically, where the government currently imprisons more than 590 political prisoners, including human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.

In Yemen, we welcome OHCHR’s documentation of abuses and express deep concern about reports of migrants being killed on the border. We take allegations like this extremely seriously and have urged Saudi authorities to undertake a thorough and transparent investigation; to facilitate access for international organizations to this border region; and to meet their obligations under international law, including in pursuing accountability for any abuses or violations.

We are concerned about the closure of the OHCHR office in Uganda, especially following the enactment and enforcement of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Finally, we again call on the Venezuelan authorities to release arbitrarily detained persons.

High Commissioner Türk, how can UN members best coordinate with OHCHR to ensure human rights are integrated in our responses to emerging and existing crises?

Thank you.