Remarks at a Third Committee Meeting on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 27, 2017


The United States believes that human rights violations and abuses are not merely the byproduct of conflict – they are the trigger for conflict. When a state begins to systematically violate human rights, it is one of the clearest possible indicators that broader instability, unrest, and violence may follow. That’s why human rights and peace and security cannot be separated, and that’s why human rights are so important to us.

In the DPRK, we condemn widespread and gross human rights violations by the government, including summary executions, enslavement, torture, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances. We condemn the brutal treatment of Otto Warmbier and mourn his death.

In Syria, we strongly condemn the systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights – and violations of international humanitarian law – by the Assad regime and its allies, as well as abuses committed by ISIS. We condemn the regime’s continued attacks against civilian facilities; use of arbitrary detentions and torture; forced displacement of civilian populations; removal of medical supplies from aid convoys; and use of chemical weapons.

In Iran, we remain deeply concerned by the arbitrary detentions, excessive sentencing, abuse, torture, and harsh prison conditions imposed by Iran on its citizens and foreign nationals, especially human rights defenders and minorities.

In Russia, we remain deeply troubled by the ongoing harassment of civil society and media as well as the growing number of political prisoners, especially with increasing pressure on political opposition as the 2018 elections approach. We again call on Russia to hold accountable those responsible for extrajudicial detentions, torture, and killings of gay men in Chechnya.

We categorically reject Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

In Burma, we are deeply alarmed by horrific human rights violations, particularly against the Rohingya and other minority communities. We call on Burmese civilian and military authorities to provide immediate humanitarian and media access, respect human rights, cease violence and displacement of civilians, and ensure accountability for those responsible for human rights violations in Rakhine State and throughout the country. We deplore the sentencing of two Kachin religious leaders today.

In China, we remain troubled by reports that human rights defenders and lawyers are being arbitrarily detained, tortured, stripped of their legal licenses, and forced to confess publicly. We are concerned about conditions akin to martial law that have been imposed in Xinjiang and some Tibetan areas, and we mourn the loss of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo and the continued restrictions on his wife’s movements.

In Venezuela, we condemn the Maduro regime’s continued steps towards authoritarianism. We call on it to dissolve the illegitimate Constituent Assembly; provide humanitarian assistance to its people; release political prisoners, including Leopoldo Lopez; and hold free, fair, and credible elections.

In Cuba, we urge the government to release political prisoners and cease the harassment of civil society.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we condemn violations of international humanitarian law and violations of human rights, committed by both armed groups and security forces. We call on the government not to impede the investigation of the murders of UN officials, Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan.

In Burundi, we are extremely concerned by ongoing, serious human rights abusesincluding possible crimes against humanity.

In South Sudan, we remain deeply concerned by atrocities and the use of scorched earth tactics by military forces.

In the Central African Republic, we are concerned by sectarian tensions, increasing violence against civilians, and attacks on humanitarian aid workers.

In Yemen, we reiterate our deep concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation and call on all sides to protect civilians and allow unimpeded humanitarian access.

In Cambodia, we are deeply concerned by the government’s attacks on civil society and the democratic opposition and call for the immediate release of Kem Sokha.

Finally, in places such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, and Turkey, we are deeply troubled by the crackdown on peacefully dissenting voices, and we are disturbed by the severe restrictions placed on freedoms of assembly, association, and expression for individuals and for civil society as a whole.

Thank you.