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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid