News / USA

US Defends Human Rights Record At UN Council

US Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer  (file photo)
US Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer (file photo)
Lisa Schlein

The United States has warded off a barrage of criticism from a number of nations as it defended its human rights record before the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council.  This is the first time the U.S. has formally participated in the Universal Periodic Review, a process under which the human rights records of all 192 U.N. Member States are assessed every four years.  

The U.S. decision to defend its human rights record at the U.N. Human Rights Council is meeting with criticism from some quarters in the United States.  Despite this, Washington has sent a large, high-powered team to present the report and participate in a grueling examination of its record by member States.  

The Head of the Delegation, Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, Esther Brimmer, told the overflow diplomatic audience the United States was proud of its accomplishments.  

She said American history has been one of progress, built on a strong foundation of fundamental freedoms of speech, association, and religion.

"This morning's presentation therefore is not the end, but only a milestone in our long-term engagement to promote our human rights aspirations," said Esther Brimmer. "We have approached this process with a seriousness of purpose of a commitment to engage genuinely with comments and questions raised in good faith."

This conciliatory overture was quickly met with hostile resistance from a number of countries, led by Cuba.

Cuban Ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez called for an end of the blockade against Cuba, which he described as a crime of genocide.  He said it seriously violated the rights of the Cuban people.

He said the perpetrators of torture, extradition, executions and other serious violations of human rights committed in Guantanamo, Abu Graib, Baghram, and other facilities carried out by the joint special operations command and the CIA should be put on trial.

Dozens of other countries, including Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China, Algeria, Bolivia and Nicaragua, lined up behind Cuba, harshly judging U.S actions.  

Many States, including allies like Britain and Australia, condemned the use of the death penalty and demanded it be abolished.  They called for an end to racial profiling and racial discrimination, especially in regard to migrants.

Many concerns were raised about America's record on counterterrorism and alleged use of torture.  They demanded the military base at Guantanemo Bay be closed.

In response, Legal Adviser of the Department of State, Harold Koh, categorically stated the U.S. does not and will not torture.  He reiterated President Barack Obama's commitment to closing Guantanamo.

"While that commitment has not wavered, the task is enormously complex," he said. "President Obama cannot close Guantanamo alone.  That also involves our allies, the courts and our Congress, which has legislated restrictions on transfers from Guantanamo… Our intensive efforts to close that facility continue every day and many, many people in the U.S. government are involved in that task.  We are very grateful to those countries that have helped by accepting detainees for resettlement."  

The U.S. delegation says it considers the Universal Periodic Review a healthy process.  It calls it an important tool in helping the country to do better.  It says it views this as an ongoing process and notes it will report back to the Council in March and then again in four years time.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid