United States

The United States is one of the Council’s strongest supporters of country-specific action, and used its influence to mobilize the Council to respond firmly to numerous situations of egregious violations in the world. The US’s lack of consistency particularly in responding to violations committed by close allies, however, marred its overall record.

Voting Record in 2015

2014 Analysis

The US voted in favor of all country-specific resolutions put to a vote under the Council’s agenda Items 2, 4 and 10 on Syria, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Iran, Ukraine and Belarus, as well as supporting the joint statements on the situations in Bahrain and Egypt. In addition to co-sponsoring a high number of country specific resolutions, it participated in all oral debates under agenda Items 2, 4 and 10.

The United States engaged most actively among Council members in mobilizing the Council to respond to country situations. In 2014, the US was the main sponsor of the resolution establishing an international investigation into violations during the war in Sri Lanka. It also played an influential role in various Item 4 resolutions, including on Iran, Syria, and North Korea, and in supporting the Council’s continued engagement on Burma. Ahead of the Council’s September session, the US stated its readiness to present its own draft resolution on Sudan, which was a key factor in ultimately negotiating a stronger final text. The US also supported the calls to convene the special sessions on the Central African Republic and on Iraq.

Regrettably, the United States was also the only Council member to reject all resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories (OPT), breaking with other countries in its regional group. Its systematic opposition to resolutions on this particular situation raises serious questions about double standards and selectivity in its approach to the Council. The United States should base its positions on an assessment of the situation on the ground, the needs of victims, and the international obligations of the government concerned. The United States’ current approach on the OPT also undermines its ability to be credible and effective in supporting Council engagement on country situations elsewhere in the world.

Voting record in 2014

Support for key joint statements in 2014

2012/2013 Analysis

The United States has engaged actively to mobilize the Council to respond to violations. Working with other states, the US has played a key role in reinvigorating the Council's engagement on country situations. The United States was particularly instrumental in putting the issue of accountability in Sri Lanka back on the Council’s agenda. The United States also worked hard to ensure a continuous response by the Council to the Syrian crisis, to ensure the Council’s continuing engagement on Iran, and to support the establishment of a commission of inquiry on North Korea.

However, the US did not engage the same way on violations that implicated its close allies. The US voted against amendments that would have improved the Libya resolution in March 2012. The US also failed to support the first joint statement on the human rights situation in Bahrain, but did fortunately sign the following two in March and September 2013. Additionally, unlike many other Western countries, the US failed to sign the joint call for the Security Council to refer the Syrian case to the ICC.

The United States is the only country to vote against all the Council’s resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. The US rejection of any resolution focusing on Israel and the OPT and Israel exposes its double standards. 

In 2012 and 2013 the US co-sponsored 43 country resolutions under agenda items 1, 2, 4 and 10. The US also engaged in almost all the country-specific debates in the Council. The active support of the US for a Council that is responsive to human rights violations around the world is commendable. The US should strengthen its approach and leadership in the Council by addressing its problem of selectivity, which undermines its overall engagement.

Voting record in 2012

Support for key joint statements in 2012

Voting record in 2013

Support for key joint statements in 2013