Explanation of Position on the Report of the Human Rights Council by John Sammis, Deputy U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council, at the Third Committee of the Sixty-fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
New York, NY
November 19, 2010




AS DELIVERED

The Human Rights Council Report both reflects the Council’s strengths and its weaknesses. Over the past year, we have been proud to support many of the Council’s resolutions—particularly those establishing special procedures for freedom of assembly and association and combating discrimination against women, and also those resolutions regarding freedom of opinion and expression, violence against women, trafficking in persons, the protection of human rights defenders, and the protection of the human rights of persons living with HIV and AIDS.

We were also pleased to vote for the adoption of several resolutions that called attention to human rights situations in specific countries, most recently by the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert for Sudan. These resolutions will help protect and promote human rights around the world and are examples of what we can accomplish when we work constructively together.
Our view is that the acknowledgement of this report does not mean support for the Council’s unbalanced and one-sided approach to the human rights situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Council should treat all countries in an unbiased, objective manner.

In the past year the Council has passed several resolutions that do not meet this test. The United States could not, and does not, support these resolutions for many reasons—largely because they attempt to unfairly single out the Government of Israel and make no mention of the serious violations of international law deliberately committed by Hamas.

As we noted in Geneva, in discussion about the discussions of the Council’s deeply flawed Goldstone report, we have consistently expressed our belief that allegations of violations of international law that took place during the Gaza conflict warrant effective domestic follow-up action. Israel has the mechanisms to investigate alleged violations, as the “Tomuschat Committee” report affirms, including a robust judiciary and a strong record of independent review of military operations.

Continuing bias against Israel is further evident in the Council’s hasty resolution establishing a fact-finding mission with a flawed mandate to investigate the tragic incident aboard the Gaza-bound ships in late May and its resolution following up on the fact-finding mission’s report. We commend the Secretary General’s constructive initiative in convening a panel that will receive and review the results of Israel and Turkey’s internal investigations, and we welcome the spirit of cooperation that it represents. We continue to regard this panel as the primary method for the international community to review the incident.

When we joined the Council last year, we came willing to support what the Council does well, but we also pledged to challenge old habits that undermine its effectiveness and mandate.

Our work on the Council will continue to be guided by the United States’ ongoing, steadfast commitment to human rights and to the four tenets that we espoused when we took our seat on the Council: the universality of human rights, dialogue among nations and people, principled engagement, and fidelity to the truth.

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PRN: 2010/291