Shutdown leaves U.S. sidelined from human rights debate

Oct. 14, 2013 at 1:25 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- U.N. delegates in Geneva said Monday at the 109th meeting of the Human Rights Committee work was complicated by the fiscal showdown in the United States.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee began its 109th session Monday in Geneva. It said it would review reports from Bolivia, Djibouti, Mauritania, Mozambique and Uruguay during the sessions. A fourth review of the United States is postponed to March because of the federal government shutdown.

Nigel Rodley, chairman of the committee, expressed frustration the United States was unable to send a delegate to Geneva to take part in the sessions. He said the same party [the Republicans] that ended slavery in the 19th Century decided in the 21st Century that wealth should be the determining factor in access to healthcare.

"To achieve its aim [the party] had brought the government of the United States to a standstill and to the brink of defaulting on its national debt," he said in his statement Monday.

Ibrahim Salama, director of human rights treaties, said the challenges of addressing human rights was "increasingly complex" in an evolving political and economic landscape that extended beyond the shores of the United States.

Rodley said he regretted the U.S. absence, however, noting the "persistent lobbying " by civil groups fighting for human rights in the United States resulted in some of the very foundations of the Charter of the United Nations.

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