Friday, November 12, 2010

U.N. Human Rights Council Session Recommends U.S. Join the International Criminal Court

By Duane W. Krohnke
Provisional Organizer, Minnesota Alliance for the ICC

In November 2010 the United States submitted itself to its first Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The hearing for this UPR was held on November 5th in Geneva, Switzerland, and on November 9th, the Council debated the outcome of this UPR. Materials regarding this UPR are available at

The draft report of this UPR that was prepared for the November 9th meeting contained recommendations to the U.S. from the Council members and observer States. The U.S. is to respond to these recommendations by the next Council meeting in March 2011, which will adopt the outcome report on this UPR. (U.N. Human Rights Council, Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: United States of America, ¶ 93 (Nov. 10, 2010).)

Almost all of the members recommended that the U.S. ratify or accede to the many multilateral human rights treaties that it has not joined. There were also numerous recommendations for the U.S. to revoke the reservations and declarations the U.S. has made to those human rights treaties it has ratified or acceded to. (Id. ¶¶ 92.1-92.50.)

Nine members and observer States (Austria, Costa Rica, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Japan and Venezuela) specifically recommended that the U.S. ratify the ICC's Rome Statute while 17 others (Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Holy See, Indonesia, Libya, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Sudan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Uruguay and Viet Nam) made a general recommendation that the U.S. do so for all or all "core" human rights treaties that the U.S. has not joined, which presumably included the Rome Statute. (Id.¶¶ 21, 50, 62, 82, 92.1, 92.2, 92.6, 92.7, 92.8, 92.9, 92.16, 92.17, 92.19, 92.20, 92.24, 92.25, 92.28, 92.36, 92.37-92.43, 92.175; OHCR Extranet (Namibia, Nigeria, Timor-Leste).)

The Council was created in 2006 by the U.N. General Assembly. It is "responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner." To that end, it is also responsible for addressing "situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations" and making "recommendations thereon." The Council is guided by "the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation, with a view to enhancing the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development." (U.N. Gen. Ass'bly Res. 60-251, Arts. 2-4 (Apr. 3, 2006).) The Council has 47 member states that are chosen from U.N. member states for three-year terms by the U.N. General Assembly. (Id., Arts. 7-9.) (See generally U.N. Human Rights Council,

One of the methods used by the Council for these ends is Universal Periodic Review "based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States." This is to be done with "a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned." (Id., Art. 5(e).) (See generally U.N. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review,

The written record for the UPR of the U.S. included (a) a report by the U.S. itself; (b) the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights' compilation of information about the U.S. from the reports of human rights treaty bodies, special procedures and other U.N. documents; and (c) submissions from 103 "stakeholders," including human rights NGOs. (U.N. Human Rights Council, National report submitted . . . [by] United States of America (Aug. 23, 2010); U.N. Human Rights Council, Compilation Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights …--United States of America (Aug. 12, 2010); U.N. Human Rights Council, Summary Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights …--United States of America (Oct. 14, 2010).) (These documents are all available at

No comments: