After two-and-a-half-year absence, US returns to UN Human Rights Council

U.S. Department Of State Office of the Spokesperson released its take on the key outcomes at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, highlighting U.S. participation after a two-and-a-half-year absence and announcing its 2022-2024 candidacy.

South Sudan was mentioned as a key outcome, “The United States rejoined the core group on South Sudan, comprised of the United Kingdom, Norway, and Albania, to renew the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for another year. The Commission is the only mechanism currently collecting and preserving evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses to promote accountability and address human rights and transitional justice issues in South Sudan from a holistic perspective. We stand ready, as ever, to work with the government of South Sudan and other regional partners to improve the lives of the South Sudanese people.”

Ahead of the July 2021 UN Food Pre-Summit in Rome Italy and during the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. James Duddridge, Minister for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office stated that continued violence and starvation were being used as “weapons of war” and he was unclear as to what steps the government was taking even after his visit to the country in late January this year.

Having access to the fundamental rights which enable life includes access to food and water. Along with air and shelter, it’s one of the most basic necessities and a growing number of people around the globe are being deprived of this basic necessity, blocking or killing humanitarian workers, governments hoarding stockpiles of aid, and other human-driven actions.

The Guardian reported today that the UN has warned of 30 million people one step away from acute huger and Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan make the top of the list for countries in need. FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, telling The Guardian, “The magnitude of the suffering is alarming.”

U.S. presence at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council indicates its effort to repair international relations that waivered or were cut when the Trump Administration pulled out and defunded U.S. participation in many global organizations.

The United States opposed the “Mutually Beneficial Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights” resolution, led by China, whereby States “cooperate to advance the interests of governments over-promoting and respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals.” Despite its objection, the resolution passed by a vote of 26 in favor, 15 against, and 6 abstentions.

The United States also co-sponsored resolutions on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Albinism; Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law; Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Privacy; and Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States Trust Fund decision.

U.S. Department Of State Office of the Spokesperson reported: TheUnited States led two joint statements and signed onto 12 thematic or country-specific joint statements. The United States led a Joint Statement on Racism, securing signatures from 156 countries, including all Africa Group members. The joint statement called on governments to take steps to address racism and racial discrimination and examine and eliminate practices and policies that marginalize members of ethnic and racial minority groups. 

Fifty-three countries also co-sponsored a U.S.-led Joint Statement on Human Rights Accountability. The joint statement made it clear that state sovereignty cannot be used as a shield to prevent scrutiny from the Council and that states continue to be responsible for protecting human rights.

The United States also joined statements on Human Rights and COVID-19 Measures; Protection of Journalists; Ending Death Penalty as a Punishment for Blasphemy and Apostacy; and Human Rights of Migrants.

The Human Rights Council adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of the United States, the culmination of a multi-year process reviewing the U.S. domestic human rights record. The United States accepted 280 out of 347 recommendations it received from other UN Member States. Acting DRL Assistant Secretary Lisa Peterson delivered remarks outlining the U.S. approach to the recommendations, further explaining the Biden Administration’s priorities on racial justice, nondiscrimination, migration, climate change, and the COVID-19 response.

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