Several dozen UN representatives held a protest against Washington’s insufficient efforts on human rights issues
Dozens of activists held a demonstration before the independent Human Rights Committee on Wednesday as US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council Michele Taylor delivered a speech defending Washington’s human rights record.
According to the Associated Press, as many as 140 protesters traveled from places including Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Guam, among others, to protest Taylor’s speech. When she began her address, the activists, who were sitting all over the chamber of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, stood up and turned their backs to the US ambassador.
Taylor’s speech came amid the US’ first scheduled human rights record review in nine years. The Human Rights Committee evaluated the country’s efforts to tackle human rights issues and uphold its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
ENOUGH! Today the Dignity Delegation along w/civil society orgs from the US turned our backs in silent protest against the US Ambassador Michelle Taylor as she spoke at the end of the #UN Human Rights Cttee Review of the US. Protect our dignity & human rights. #StartWithDignity pic.twitter.com/Xj7Yd1K77o
— startwithdignity (@startwdignity) October 18, 2023
The ambassador insisted that Washington’s commitment to the treaty was “a moral imperative at the very heart of our democracy” and claimed that the US “leads by example through our transparency, our openness and our humble approach to our own human rights challenges.”
“You have heard over the past two days about many of the concrete ways we are meeting our obligations under the convention, and you have also heard our pledge to do more,” said Taylor, adding that she recognizes that “the topics raised are often painful for all of us to discuss.”
However, US representatives who had traveled to the event to share their personal stories of pain and trauma said that the US delegation “decided to stick to scripted, general, and often meaningless responses” to questions from the Human Rights Committee.
“At times it seemed that AI-generated responses would have been more qualitative,” said Jamil Dakwar, the human rights program director at the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We all feel deceived by a government that has said it is going to do better than the administrations before it but has simply just repeated language out of binders they brought and websites they read and did not meaningfully engage in the topics we had shared with them,” Alliance San Diego Executive Director Andrea Guerrero was quoted as saying by the TAG24 News.
“Their words are meaningless without actions,” she added. “Actions speak louder than words. That’s why we turned our backs today.”
The UN Human Rights Committee regularly reviews the observance of human rights by all countries that have signed the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Currently, the pact has been ratified by 173 states, including Russia.
October 19, 2023 at 09:55PM