Statement on Treaty Body Strengthening Resolution, delivered by Mr. John F. Sammis, Deputy U.S. Representative of the Economic and Social Council

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
February 23, 2012


The United States requested this vote today after consultation with a large group of countries that have significant substantive and procedural concerns with this resolution.

We continue in particular to have significant concerns about the timing and content of the inter-governmental process set forward in it. We also think the text inadequately addresses the important concerns raised by civil society organizations and others regarding their participation in the proposed process.

The United States, along with many other member states, has been disappointed with the lack of flexibility the sponsors have shown during the final stages of the negotiations on this draft resolution.  They unfortunately rejected a number of constructive proposals that would have allowed this resolution to be adopted by consensus – as the United States would very much have preferred. 

The current text requires further consideration and improvement through continued negotiations.   It sets up a comparable process to one already underway under the auspices of OHCHR, while leaving the timeline and the relationship between the two processes unclear.

The United States looks forward to participating in the intergovernmental process envisioned in this resolution. At the same time, we believe that the new intergovernmental process in New York should not begin until after the presentation of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in June.  The Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) has led an extensive multi-stakeholder process, with the participation of States Parties to the human rights treaties, treaty body experts, national human rights institutions, and civil society.  We were pleased to submit our views in writing to the OHCHR in advance of our participation in the February 7-8 consultations in Geneva, and also look forward to the April consultations in New York.

While decisions on the strengthening of the treaty body system are a matter for States Parties to decide, the United States believes that the OHCHR should be given the time to complete its process of soliciting input from States and other stakeholders and to inform the inter-governmental deliberations. 

We should make additional efforts to avoid duplication of work, redundancies, and waste of resources in New York and Geneva.  We should also provide a clear timeline for the completion of this process.  While OHCHR is conducting consultations and issuing its report, the intergovernmental process should not be started.  We hope that the OHCHR report will fully reflect perspectives expressed in Geneva, and we do not think there is a need for any alternate consultation process under the auspices of the Presidency of the Human Rights Council at this time.  Moreover, we do not view this resolution as providing a mandate for any such consultation process. 

As this process moves forward, it is important for the Member States of the UN to respect the independence of the treaty bodies and the role of the States Parties themselves in deciding on issues related to the scope and implementation of the respective treaties.  In that regard, this process should avoid proposals that would endanger that independence or that would require treaty amendments. 

For the avoidance of doubt, I would like to underline that the United States does not interpret any element of the draft resolution as altering the existing legal competences of the relevant institutions, including the General Assembly and any conferences of states parties that would be convened with respect to each treaty.

As we discuss the various proposals in more depth, and look for ways to strengthen the treaty body system, we believe it would be useful to better understand the budgetary implications of each proposal.  In our view, throughout the discussion of the range of proposals, detailed budgetary analysis would help to better inform our discussions.  This is yet another reason why the intergovernmental process should not begin until OHCHR has completed its report, as we understand that that report will include budgetary information that will better inform these discussions.

Mr. President,

Having requested this vote, the United States will abstain. We encourage other countries that share our concerns to do so as well.

Thank you.


PRN: 2012/038