Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Human Rights Resolutions in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee, November 19, 2013

Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York 
New York, NY
November 19, 2013


The United States proudly co-sponsored four resolutions adopted today in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee that underscore serious and ongoing human rights abuses in Syria, Iran, North Korea and Burma.

On Syria, we joined the General Assembly in condemning all violence, including the intervention of foreign combatants, attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and grave abuses committed against children.  We strongly support this resolution's demand that Syrian authorities immediately enable the evacuation of the wounded and civilians from besieged areas and allow international access for humanitarian relief efforts.  We also endorse its call to convene at the earliest opportunity an international peace conference to establish a transitional governing body in Syria.

On Iran, the Third Committee resolution expressed deep concern regarding ongoing human rights violations, including torture, restricting the fundamental freedoms of assembly, opinion and expression, and the systematic targeting of human rights defenders by the Government of Iran.  The resolution called on the government to fully abide by its human rights obligations, eliminate discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, address pervasive gender inequality, and respond positively to the UN Special Rapporteur's request to visit Iran to carry out his mandate.

On North Korea, the General Assembly rightly expressed serious concern about the deteriorating human rights situation, including torture, inhumane conditions of detention, public executions, and "all pervasive and severe" restrictions on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, expression and peaceful assembly.  The resolution urged the government to cooperate both with the Secretary-General's Special Rapporteur for Human Rights as well as with the Human Rights Council's newly established commission of inquiry.

In contrast to the other three resolutions, this year's resolution on Burma was able to welcome the government's efforts to build democratic institutions.  Nonetheless, we share the General Assembly's concern that arbitrary arrests and detentions of Burmese human rights defenders continue. Today's resolution urges the government to address these issues, as well as the violence, displacement and dire economic conditions affecting ethnic and religious minorities, including the Rohingya in the Rakhine State and Muslim minorities throughout the country.

Through the adoption of these resolutions, the international community has once again demonstrated its support for the fundamental freedoms and dignity of individuals around the world, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



PRN: 2013/238