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Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force Submits Human Rights Council Recommendations to John Kerry

March 1, 2013
Last week, UNA-USA’s Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force submitted recommendations to newly-appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding bold initiatives that the U.S. should pursue during its second term on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Task Force developed the recommendations at a workshop on Feb. 11, where members discussed recent Council developments and opportunities for U.S. leadership on the organization.

Overall, The Task Force’s recommendations for the second U.S. term on the Council encompassed three broad categories: country-specific, thematic, and Council reform. They included a call for the Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry on rights violations in North Korea; a new special rapporteur on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights; and for the prioritization of competitive regional slates where more countries run for the number of seats available for the 2013 Human Rights Council election.

At the core of each recommendation is a fundamental belief that U.S. leadership on the Council can not only ensure the advancement and protection of universal human rights, but also help ensure the body and its membership build upon the progress made since the U.S. joined the body three years ago. During this relatively short span of time, the Council was able to establish commissions of inquiry on Syria and Libya; pass the first resolution on Internet Freedom; and appoint special rapporteurs to track and report on rights violations in Iran, Belarus, and Eritrea. Nevertheless, it is important the Council and its members continue to address these and other pressing human rights situations and issues.

The Task Force also took notice of a special window of opportunity on the Council. This is because a few  countries known habitually to complicate the work of the UN’s premier intergovernmental human rights organ—including China, Cuba, and Russian—recently lost their seats due to term limits. Moreover, the U.S. is beginning its second term fresh from a resounding victory within the UN General Assembly, which elects UN member states to the Council, where it won the most affirmative votes within its regional group. Both offer multiple and diverse opportunities for U.S. leadership on the Council.

The Human Rights Council is currently holding its 22nd session in Geneva, Switzerland, which is expected to conclude at the end of March.

Labels: Advocacy

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