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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor > Releases > Fact Sheets
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC
May 16, 2002

58th United Nations Commission on Human Rights

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (CHR) held its 58th session in Geneva from March 18 to April 26, 2002. For the first time in the 55-year history of the Commission, the U.S. was not a voting member. Although this status did not allow us to independently sponsor resolutions, we remained actively involved as an observer. Our delegation co-sponsored a number of resolutions, lobbied for--and against--some texts, made interventions on key issues, and consulted with our allies on the Commission, urging them to call to account any state that failed meet its international human rights obligations. The United States co-sponsored 17 resolutions that passed, including the Cuba resolution, and three unsuccessful draft resolutions--Iran, Chechnya and Zimbabwe.

New High Commissioner in 2002
Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, announced that she would not seek another extension to her term as High Commissioner. Her current one-year extension ends in September 2002.

U.S. Membership for 2003
The United States was elected to a three-year term on the Commission on Human Rights. The Western European and Others Group (WEOG), the regional grouping in which the United States participates at the U.N., agreed on an uncontested slate of four candidates, which included the United States. The election took place at the regularly scheduled working meeting of the U.N. Economic and Social Council on April 29, 2002.

The United States is pleased that the Commission recognized that the human rights situation in Cuba continues to demand the attention of the international community. A resolution, sponsored by Uruguay, passed by 23 "yes" to 21 "no" with 9 abstentions.

The United States has a strong interest in the human rights situation in China. We would like to see new and effective human rights reforms in China. We consulted with our friends and allies regarding introduction of a China resolution, but were disappointed that no member agreed to table a text.

We have consistently called for the Russian Government to take steps necessary to institute accountability for human rights violations that have occurred. We were disappointed by the narrow loss on the resolution proposed by the European Union. The vote was 15 "yes" to 16 "no" with 22 abstentions.

We were disappointed that the resolution on Iran, sponsored by the European Union, did not pass. The vote was 19 "yes" to 20 "no" with 14 abstentions. As our annual
human rights report notes, there are significant human rights problems in Iran.

Israel and the Occupied Territories
The United States spoke out against what we viewed as unbalanced and polemical resolutions on Israel and the occupied territories in
a speech delivered by the Head of the U.S. Observer Delegation, Ambassador Kevin E. Moley. A total of eight resolutions were adopted, including three that arose from a "special sitting" of the CHR in the midst of the regular session.

We were satisfied that the Commission passed a resolution on Sudan that retains the Special Rapporteur.

This year, for the first time ever, the European Union tabled a resolution on Zimbabwe’s human rights situation at the CHR to focus international attention on the marked deterioration in Zimbabwe’s human rights situation since the Commission’s 2001 session. We were deeply disappointed that the members of the Commission chose not to take action on the resolution by passing a procedural no-action motion by a vote of 26 "yes" to 24 "no" with 3 abstentions.

Progress and Problems in Human Rights
In a
speech before the Commission on Human Rights, Ambassador Moley, head of the U.S. delegation, commended progress on human rights in Sierra Leone, Peru, and Afghanistan, and highlighted the human rights abuses of several countries.

U.S. Delegation to the Commission on Human Rights
U.N. Commission on Human Rights – 58th session

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