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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Ten Years Later: The Status of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 2:00pm
2261 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing that will examine the current functioning and effectiveness of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On March 15th, 2006, the United Nations General Assembly voted to replace the  controversial 60-year-old U.N. Commission on Human Rights, criticized for being bureaucratic, focusing only on the human rights of developing countries, and allowing membership by states with deplorable human rights records, with a new body, the UN Human Rights Council.  The Council, which was launched with high expectations, struggled in its early years to overcome the Commission’s legacy and chart a path in support of the global application of universal rights and freedoms.  It was in the context of this struggle that President Obama decided in 2009 that the United States would seek election to the Council, in order to promote a “…balanced, credible, and effective UN Human Rights Council.”

Seven years later, the United States has completed two active terms on the Council that featured new country-specific action on Iran, Syria, Burma, DPRK, among others, and a renewed focus on universality, including freedoms of expression and assembly.  Still, some continue to accuse the Council of an anti-Israel bias and membership continues to be problematic. This hearing will examine the successes and shortfalls of U.S. engagement with the U.N. Human Rights Council, its current forms of operation and priorities, and possible options for reform that would help the Council more effectively achieve its original mandate.   

This hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. For any questions, please contact Isaac Six (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or, or Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or

Hosted by: 

Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I   

  • Ambassador Keith M. Harper, Representative of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council  
  • Ms. Erin M. Barclay, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organizational Affairs, U.S. Department of State 
    Written testimony
  • Mr. Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State

Panel II




114th Congress