The United States on March 18, 2002 said that it has “a strong interest in human rights in China with the goal “to see the situations in these places improve.” Responding to a question on the U.S. position during the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which began in Geneva on March 18, 2002, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said although it will depend on the members of the Commission (the United States being only an observer in this session) to decide on what resolutions to propose, the United States may be able to support them. Boucher said the United States was in touch with members of the Commission on this.

Asked about the U.S. response to the decision of the European Union as well as the Swedes not to sponsor a China resolution, Boucher said, “We’ll just have to see if others step up to the plate to do these things.” On a further query whether the United States is in consultations with other governments about possibly sponsoring such resolutions, Boucher did not name any country except to say, “We just think that democracies do have a need to stand up for democracy and stand up for human rights, and we would hope the countries in the commission would come forward and do so.”

The United States was unseated from the Commission membership in 2001. Since then it has been in touch with members of the Western European and Others group (to which it belongs in the UN division of countries into regional groups) and an understanding has been reached for the U.S. to be back on the Commission during the regular elections later this year.

Ambassador Kevin Moley, U.S. Permanent Representative in Geneva, is leading the U.S. delegation to this year’s Commission session.

In the past several sessions of the Commission the United States or some of the European countries have sponsored resolutions against China’s human rights abuses in China and Tibet. However, the Chinese government was able to stop these resolutions from being discussed by seeking recourse to the technical procedure of “no-action” motion. This year, too, the Chinese government has been aggressively lobbying member countries of the Commission, even though a China resolution has not been formally introduced, according to State Department sources.

As the 58th session of the Commission began in Geneva on March 18, 2002, Tibetan and Tibet supporters organized a rally before the UN Complex in Geneva to draw attention to the human rights situation in Tibet.