Remarks at a UN General Assembly 3rd Committee Meeting on Agenda Item #70, Countries of Concern Statement

Ambassador Cherith Norman-Chalet
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 18, 2019


Thank you, Chair.

The United States is deeply concerned by certain governments’ ongoing abuses of human rights.

In Iran, we condemn custodial deaths, torture, and arbitrary detention to silence individuals exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including women, members of religious minority groups, human rights defenders, and workers. Over 600 people remain imprisoned for peacefully demanding reform. We call on the government to release them, along with the Americans wrongfully detained by the regime.

In China, we are deeply troubled by the human rights crisis in Xinjiang particularly the detention of more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims in “re-education” camps since April 2017. In Hong Kong, we remain concerned about the excessive use of force against protestors and journalists and urge all to refrain from violence.

In Syria, we condemn the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian enablers for their role in the violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law perpetrated throughout the conflict, including those that rise to the level of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The United States opposes Turkey’s offensive into northeast Syria, which is undermining the campaign to defeat ISIS, endangering innocent civilians, and threatening peace, security, and stability in the region. We have been clear with Turkey that it must respect its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law. Those responsible for abuses of human rights must be held accountable.

In Myanmar, we are gravely concerned by the government’s and military’s restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms; their use of dubious legal charges against journalists, peaceful protestors, and members of ethnic minority communities; and their failure to address the root causes of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from northern Rakhine State. This includes ongoing discrimination, violence, and impunity for gross human rights violations and abuses.

In the DPRK, we condemn the sustained, widespread, and gross human rights violations by the government, including summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, forced labor, and torture. We also call for the dismantlement of the political prison camp system, where approximately 100,000 individuals, including children and family of the accused, are detained.

In Russia, we remain deeply troubled by ongoing pressure on civil society and media and by the growing number of prisoners detained for their political or religious views. Russia should hold accountable those responsible for extrajudicial detentions, torture, and killings of men who are gay or perceived to be gay in Chechnya.

We condemn Russia’s ongoing aggression in eastern Ukraine and its repressive occupation of Crimea. Russian authorities must release all those Ukrainians it has arbitrarily or unlawfully detained and end the violent raids and other reprisals against Crimean Tatars.

In Venezuela, the population continues to suffer as the corrupt former Maduro regime enriches its officials, commits widespread human rights violations, and blocks the restoration of democracy through free and fair elections.

In Nicaragua, we call on the government to stop killing, threatening, and intimidating people to quash dissent, and to heed the call of its citizens for democratic rule and respect for human rights, to be achieved through holding free and fair elections.

In Cuba, we call on the regime to immediately end its repression of the Cuban people, its economic exploitation and mismanagement, and to stop committing human rights violations against prisoners of conscience, political dissidents, human rights activists, and journalists. We condemn the Cuban regime’s assault on Venezuela’s democracy, including its role in dismantling of fundamental freedoms there.

In South Sudan we remain deeply concerned about ongoing mass atrocities, including the use of rape as a weapon of war.

In Burundi, we remain concerned by ongoing human rights abuses and violations, including, according to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, possible crimes against humanity, which take place with impunity.

In Egypt, we are deeply concerned by the shrinking space for independent voices and peaceful dissent, including ongoing arrests and prosecutions of peaceful activists.

In Yemen, we condemn the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers by multiple parties in the conflict and have grave concerns about reports of the Houthi militias’ use of civilians as human shields, confiscation of humanitarian supplies, and detention of activists, journalists, and members of religious minorities.