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  • Backgrounder posted June 1, 2007 by Brett D. Schaefer The United Nations Human Rights Council: A Disastrous First Year

    The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) was established in 2006 to replace the discredited U.N. Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Despite minimal safeguards against capture of the HRC by human rights abusers-the source of the commis­sion's ineffectiveness-HRC supporters, including U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, were quick to declare that…

  • Backgrounder posted March 5, 2015 by Steven Groves The U.S. Should Oppose the U.N.’s Attempt to Ban Autonomous Weapons

    As many as 40 nations are currently developing military robotics.[1] Indeed, some weapons already in use may be considered “autonomous” (or may be easily modified to be autonomous). These include Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), a “rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun system” designed to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles;[2] Israel…

  • Backgrounder posted November 10, 2008 by Steven Groves Why the U.S. Should Oppose "Defamation of Religions" Resolutions at the United Nations

    For the past several years, the United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly have adopted resolutions recognizing and promoting the concept of "defamation of religions." Proponents seek to establish an international ban on any speech that would insult, criticize, offend, or disparage any per­son's religion. Specifically, the Organization of the Islamic…

  • Issue Brief posted April 16, 2015 by Steven Groves U.N. Conference Debating a Ban on Autonomous Weapons: Understanding Key Issues

    This week, a ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) is being debated at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva. The U.S. delegation has been non-committal on such a ban, and U.S. policy currently permits the Department of Defense (DOD) to pursue the development of LAWS in a responsible manner. At the conference, the United States should…

  • Lecture posted September 19, 2006 by Brett D. Schaefer The United Nations Human Rights Council: Repeating Past Mistakes

    (Delivered September 6, 2006) Since the very birth of the United Nations, protecting and advancing fundamental human rights has been one of the primary objectives of the organization. The drafters of the Charter of the United Nations included a pledge by member states "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the…

  • Issue Brief posted March 11, 2014 by Steven Groves, Brett D. Schaefer Human Rights Committee’s Review of U.S. Record: Things to Watch For

    On March 13–14, a U.S. delegation will defend America’s human rights record before the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the treaty body that monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The delegation should expect harsh criticism from the HRC, whose members regularly accuse America of committing gross violations of human rights.…

  • Issue Brief posted September 5, 2012 by Brett D. Schaefer The U.N. Human Rights Council Does Not Deserve U.S. Support

    The African Union’s decision to nominate Sudan for the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) elicited justifiable outrage. Pressure from human rights groups and governments led Kenya to announce its own election bid, causing Sudan to withdraw. This was a welcome development; the notion of the genocidal government sitting on the most visible U.N. human rights body was…

  • WebMemo posted August 26, 2010 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves The U.S. Universal Periodic Review: Flawed from the Start

    The United States recently released its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). This report will serve as the basis of the U.S.’s first examination under that body’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).[1] Although the U.S. report gives undue attention and credit to the actions of the Obama Administration, it is largely a factual presentation of current U.S.…

  • Backgrounder posted June 23, 2011 by Brett D. Schaefer The U.S. Should Pursue an Alternative to the U.N. Human Rights Council

    Abstract: The U.N. Human Rights Council has failed to consistently fulfill its mandate to hold governments accountable for violating basic human rights and fundamental freedoms and to promote and protect human rights. Two years of U.S. membership on and engagement with the council have not significantly improved its performance. Rather than continuing to expend finite…

  • Testimony posted March 3, 2011 by Ambassador Terry Miller Reform of the United Nations: Lessons Learned

    Testimony before The Committee on Foreign Affairs United States House of Representatives Thursday, March 3, 2011 My name is Terry Miller. I am the Director of the Center for International Trade and Economics at The Heritage Foundation. As a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, I served on delegations to U.N. meetings or at our Permanent Mission in New York from 1979…

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  • Issue Brief posted April 16, 2015 by Steven Groves U.N. Conference Debating a Ban on Autonomous Weapons: Understanding Key Issues

    This week, a ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) is being debated at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva. The U.S. delegation has been non-committal on such a ban, and U.S. policy currently permits the Department of Defense (DOD) to pursue the development of LAWS in a responsible manner. At the conference, the United States should…

  • Backgrounder posted March 5, 2015 by Steven Groves The U.S. Should Oppose the U.N.’s Attempt to Ban Autonomous Weapons

    As many as 40 nations are currently developing military robotics.[1] Indeed, some weapons already in use may be considered “autonomous” (or may be easily modified to be autonomous). These include Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), a “rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun system” designed to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles;[2] Israel…

  • Issue Brief posted March 11, 2014 by Steven Groves, Brett D. Schaefer Human Rights Committee’s Review of U.S. Record: Things to Watch For

    On March 13–14, a U.S. delegation will defend America’s human rights record before the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the treaty body that monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The delegation should expect harsh criticism from the HRC, whose members regularly accuse America of committing gross violations of human rights.…

  • Issue Brief posted November 19, 2013 by Brett D. Schaefer U.N. Human Rights Council: A Flawed Body That Should Be Replaced

    The United Nations held elections on November 12 for 14 Human Rights Council (HRC) seats for 2014. Based on the election results, the number of free countries will climb to a slim majority. However, a number of countries with poor human rights records continue to be elected to the body. The lack of meaningful membership standards is a key reason behind the HRC’s poor…

  • Issue Brief posted September 5, 2012 by Brett D. Schaefer The U.N. Human Rights Council Does Not Deserve U.S. Support

    The African Union’s decision to nominate Sudan for the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) elicited justifiable outrage. Pressure from human rights groups and governments led Kenya to announce its own election bid, causing Sudan to withdraw. This was a welcome development; the notion of the genocidal government sitting on the most visible U.N. human rights body was…

  • Backgrounder posted June 23, 2011 by Brett D. Schaefer The U.S. Should Pursue an Alternative to the U.N. Human Rights Council

    Abstract: The U.N. Human Rights Council has failed to consistently fulfill its mandate to hold governments accountable for violating basic human rights and fundamental freedoms and to promote and protect human rights. Two years of U.S. membership on and engagement with the council have not significantly improved its performance. Rather than continuing to expend finite…

  • WebMemo posted March 4, 2011 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves The Motivation for the Referral of Libya to the ICC: Political Pressure or Justice?

    The killings and other atrocities committed in Libya, if confirmed, likely rise to the level of crimes against humanity, which are under International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction in the Rome Statute. But the ICC is supposed to be a court of last resort, becoming involved only if national authorities prove unwilling or unable to pursue the alleged crimes. It has yet…

  • WebMemo posted November 5, 2010 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves U.S. Targeted by Human Rights Abusers at Its Universal Periodic Review

    The United States underwent a three-hour review of its human rights record before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on November 5 under that body’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). As predicted,[1] the farcical nature of the process was immediately apparent as serial human rights violators Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Russia, China, Sudan, and North Korea queued up…

  • WebMemo posted August 26, 2010 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves The U.S. Universal Periodic Review: Flawed from the Start

    The United States recently released its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). This report will serve as the basis of the U.S.’s first examination under that body’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).[1] Although the U.S. report gives undue attention and credit to the actions of the Obama Administration, it is largely a factual presentation of current U.S.…

  • WebMemo posted June 4, 2010 by Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., James Phillips The Gaza Flotilla Incident: U.N. Inquiry Will Be an Anti-Israel Farce

    In the aftermath of the recent gun battle aboard a Turkish aid ship heading for Gaza, international leaders have been queuing up to attack Israel. From Ankara to Brussels, the condemnation of the only longstanding democracy in the Middle East has been swift and unequivocal. The United Nations, the European Union, and the Arab League have all engaged in a frenzy of…

Find more work on Human Rights Council
Find more work on Human Rights Council