At the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, September 11-29, U.S. leadership was active and effective in shaping the international response to urgent human rights situations. On numerous resolutions and actions covering both country-specific and thematic topics, U.S. engagement protected critical equities of the United States, provided clarity on country-specific situations, and achieved successful outcomes on difficult issues.
Yemen: The United States successfully brokered a significant consensus resolution to address the human rights situation in Yemen. The resolution creates a Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts -- the strongest mechanism to examine and report on the human rights situation in Yemen to date. The resolution also continues technical assistance and capacity building to the Republic of Yemen Government’s National Commission of Inquiry.
Venezuela: On September 11, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein asserted that crimes against humanity may have been committed in Venezuela. In an address to the Council later that day, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister attempted to shift attention away from the Maduro regime’s continuing human rights violations. The United States denounced the address and echoed the Lima Group’s September 12, joint statement condemning the continued breakdown of democratic order and violations of human rights in Venezuela.
Burundi: The United States co-sponsored a resolution presented by the EU renewing the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in Burundi, which passed by a vote of 22 to 11 with 14 abstentions. The United States voted against Burundi’s competing, self-drafted resolution because it painted an incorrect picture of the human rights situation and did not renew the COI. Instead, the latter resolution sponsored by the African Group, which passed 23 to 14 with 9 abstentions, merely requested that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) appoint an expert to strengthen the work of the OHCHR office in Burundi.