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

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid