Key Outcomes at the UN Human Rights Council 22nd Session

March 28, 2013
Ambassador Donahoe Introduces Resolution at the Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council 22nd Session, which ended on March 22, was one of the most significant in the Council's short history. The packed agenda and vast portfolio of country situations and human rights issues addressed over the past four weeks are clear evidence of the Council's ability to serve as the lead entity in the UN for promoting and protecting human rights.

In addition to the Council's official agenda, nearly 150 different parallel events sponsored by civil society and governments took place, a clear signal that human rights defenders consider the Council a crucial venue for their work. When Shin Dong Hyuk, a young man who escaped from the brutal North Korean labor camp in which he had been born and grew up, gave compelling testimony at an event organized by a leading NGO, it was clear that the Council can and does bring the reality of human rights issues to international attention.

The results achieved this session underline the importance of robust U.S. engagement on human rights, and the impact we can have when we work with countries, civil society and partners from all regions of the world to address urgent human rights concerns. Let me mention some of the most significant outcomes.

The deepening crisis in Syria was, of course, a central focus. The Commission of Inquiry on Syria made a forceful presentation regarding the violations of international law committed by all sides, and highlighted the egregious crimes committed by the Assad regime. The Council voted to extend the mandate of the Commission for one year to investigate ongoing human rights violations in Syria. Sadly, this extended mandate reflects the growing brutality of this crisis, and the COI's work will aid efforts to document abuses for use in future Syrian led transitional justice and accountability processes.

A landmark resolution on North Korea, co-sponsored by the U.S, broke new ground by establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate grave, widespread, systematic violations of human rights in the DPRK. This decision sends an important message that the global community is paying close attention to the situation in the DPRK, not just on the nuclear front but also on the human rights front.

Importantly the United States co-sponsored the African Group's resolution on Mali, and I was pleased to see the Council's determination to work with Malian authorities to end all human rights violations and abuses in the country, and bring all perpetrators to justice.

On Iran, the United States joined a cross-regional group of sponsors to renew the mandate for the Special Rapporteur, which passed by the largest vote margin yet. We are extremely concerned about reports of a growing crackdown on opposition groups and increasing numbers of incidents against human rights defenders and journalists in the lead-up to Iran's election in June. Of note, this renewal resolution calls on Iran to allow entry for the Special Rapporteur and to cooperate with his work, which Iran so far has refused to do.

And on Sri Lanka, the United States, along with 41 co-sponsors, put forward a resolution in a spirit of friendship toward the people of Sri Lanka, but also out of genuine concern about the lack of follow-through on the promises by the government of Sri Lanka, that calls on the government of Sri Lanka to carry out a credible form of domestic accountability. By this act the international community came together to call upon the government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its stated obligation to its own people to move forward with concrete steps to address outstanding issues related to truth and reconciliation, and by meeting its obligation on accountability.

The United States stands ready to assist Sri Lanka as it makes necessary progress on these longstanding issues of reconciliation and accountability, as are the Office of the High Commissioner and the Special Procedures Unit, with technical assistance and capacity building so that they can move forward toward a sustainable peace and reconciliation, based on truth and accountability.

This session also marked the beginning of the United States' second term on the Council after our re-election by the General Assembly last November. We return to the Council committed to working to make the HRC a more effective multilateral forum for promoting and protecting human rights. A major challenge is the fact that the Council's membership continues to include states with poor human rights records. We also remain gravely concerned by the Council's disproportionate focus on Israel, as exemplified by the annual Item 7 resolutions. We will continue to fight that bias as we fight for human rights around the world.

The resolutions listed above are just a sample of the many issues the Council addressed this session. The 22nd Session of the Council was truly important not just for the scope of the work it accomplished, but for the way it illustrated the essential role of this global platform in highlighting the important human rights issues of our day. It cannot be emphasized enough that it is not just states, but also civil society and individual human rights defenders who travel from across the globe to Geneva to share their testimonies and their voices in the battle for universal human rights.



March 29, 2013

Pietro in Finland writes:

Thanks The Whitehouse,like i comment gongress members and Australia coverment financing minister i hope,payment happends eurooppa international law case as soon,not i fun waiting many ten years compensation sheque.

United States
March 29, 2013

Henry in the U.S.A. writes:

It is sad, but not surprising, that the Council turns a blind eye to human rights abuses in the larger countries, including the United States, where the president proclaims for himself the authority to order assassinations without trial.

Ray W.
California, USA
March 29, 2013

Ray W. in California writes:

Heard we are considering arming and/or funding the Syrian rebels in their struggle against Assad. Do you recall we funded and armed the Afghan Mujahadeen rebels in their struggles with the Soviet Union in the 80s. When we left (after the Soviet Union left) the Mujahadeen evolved into the Taliban who provided breeding grounds for Alqaida. The Afghan excuse was "the US abandoned us".

One who fails to pay attention to history is doomed to repeat it. OR are we prepared to never leave Syria.


New Mexico, USA
April 1, 2013

Eric in New Mexico writes:

This may be more in the UN's security council mandate,

By what mechanism could the UN's human rights council refer to the security council; the leadership of a government for threatening nuclear war and then that a state of war exists, for violations of life,liberty,and the pertsuit of happiness, threats to commit genocide, incitement to commit an act of genocide by including their population in the commiting the act...etc.??

Short of having a former basketball player call the "young-Un" up, and say he was cancelling the free season's tickets if the "young-Un" was gonna interupt the season with a nuclear exchange;

Refering a human rights indictment to the general assembly for consideration of offending member state's UN membership status, for violations of its charter??

I'm sure the UN Sec. General would get a copy.

If what I'm thinkin' would be in order, and would actually make a difference.



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