Statement on Human Rights during the General Debate of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 7, 2020


Thank you.

The United States is committed to protecting and promoting the fundamental human rights of all, including ethnic, religious, and other minorities. We take every opportunity to advance equality for women and girls, and we will always proudly defend life and human dignity.

We are gravely concerned that authoritarian governments are using the COVID-19 pandemic to justify unwarranted crackdowns on their citizens and on civil society. You know, I cannot help but remember Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who was reprimanded for trying to warn the world about a troubling cluster of infection in Wuhan, and later succumbed to the coronavirus. The systemic repression of freedom of association, assembly, and expression, stunts the capacity of society to respond to COVID. Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party’s stifling of such freedoms transformed a local epidemic into a global pandemic which threatens to set back decades of developmental and economic gains. The Chinese people simply deserve better.

The United States leads in humanitarian assistance for COVID-19, having contributed more than $9 billion globally. While we acknowledge significant donors, we cannot and should not do this alone. More donors must share in this responsibility.

The United States is deeply concerned by many governments’ ongoing abuses of fundamental human rights, including those which will be detailed in subsequent interventions on Myanmar, the DPRK, Nicaragua, Cuba, Belarus, Yemen, and Cameroon.

In regard to the People’s Republic of China, we are disappointed by Chinese attempts to divert attention from its horrendous disregard for human rights and paint mounting global concerns – as expressed by 39 countries yesterday – as a bilateral issue, accusing the United States of lying, when the world sees Beijing’s cruelty on display. More than 50 independent UN experts have called for collective action to ensure China abides by its human rights obligations. We are alarmed by the Chinese Communist Party’s continued arbitrary detention of over one million Uyghurs and other minority groups in internment camps in Xinjiang. The Chinese government’s claim it provided so-called “vocational training” to nearly 7.8 million workers in Xinjiang in the last six years is concerning, given the pervasive nature of state-sponsored forced labor schemes in Xinjiang. We are also deeply disturbed by the reports that the Chinese Communist Party is using sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning as part of its continuing campaign of repression. The Chinese Communist Party has eroded autonomy and liberty in Hong Kong and perpetrated a wide range of human rights abuses against members of minority communities, including Africans and Tibetans, as well as lawyers and human rights defenders across China.

The United States condemns the wide-scale human rights abuses committed by the Assad regime in Syria. The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry has documented thousands of credible cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, and violations of international humanitarian law that have led to 6.6 million Syrians being displaced inside the country, 11 million in need of humanitarian assistance, and 5.5 million registered as refugees in nearby countries. The regime’s decade-long barbaric campaigning of killing, torture, detention, and impunity must end immediately.

The United States remains gravely concerned by gross human rights violations in Iran, including death sentences imposed following unfair trials and forced confessions reportedly obtained through torture. Impunity for the killings of up to 1,500 protesters in November 2019 and the continued repression of members of religious minority groups must end now.

Venezuelan citizens suffer as the corrupt, illegitimate Maduro regime enriches its officials, commits extensive human rights abuses, and blocks the holding of free and fair elections needed to restore democracy. In September, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission assessed there are reasonable grounds to believe the regime has committed crimes against humanity.

In Russia, we are troubled by continued threats, harassment, and violence against the press, independent civil society, religious and other minority groups, and the political opposition. The United States is also alarmed by reported cases of enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, particularly in Chechnya. We condemn Russia’s ongoing aggression in eastern Ukraine and its invasion of Crimea. We call on Russia to implement its Minsk agreement commitments.