Thursday, November 4, 2010

United States' Periodic Review

The United States is on deck for a turn in the Universal Periodic Review rotation.
Universal Periodic Review, of course, is the process by which the Human Rights Council monitors compliance with international human rights obligations. Each of the United Nations' 192 members states is up for review every 4 years.
At a session in Switzerland, lasting tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 12 noon Geneva time (4 to 7 a.m. Eastern), the Council will consider the record of the United States for the 1st time ever.
(You can watch the proceedings via live webcast here. The United States' report on its activities, plus reports from nongovernmental organizations -- some of which IntLawGrrl Jaya Ramji-Nogales examined a while back -- may be found here.)
Leading the U.S. delegation will be Dr. Esther Brimmer (left), Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs; Harold Hongju Koh, the State Department's Legal Adviser; and Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
A story in the Washington Post situates the scheduled appearance within the Obama Administration's policy of "positive engagement"; indeed, it labels the session a "milestone." The policy also plays out, as we've posted, in other fora, such as the International Criminal Court. In a new ASIL Insight, meanwhile, our colleagues Christina M. Cerna and David P. Stewart expressed concern that the proceedings might be "heavily politicized." And they reserved judgment on whether this innovation

can produce an objective, informed, and productive assessment of a given state’s human rights situation. More importantly, only substantial time will tell whether the Universal Periodic Review process as a whole can in fact contribute to an improvement in the overall human rights situation in countries in the world, including ours. That is its main purpose and that is the standard by which it should be judged.
The United States is 9th in the lineup of 16 countries to be reviewed in this Council session, which began Monday and will run through November 12. Also under review: Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica, Libya, Micronesia, Lebanon, and Mauritania. Those sessions also are available online here.

(h/t California-Davis 2L Joanna Cuevas Ingram)

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