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Efforts to Combat Racism Must also Preserve Robust Freedom of Expression

Remarks delivered under Item 9: Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

Thank you Madame President.

The United States expresses its appreciation to the Special Rapporteur on Racism and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent for drawing attention to the continued vigilance that is needed in order to combat racism and to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. We condemn racism of any kind for any purpose by any person or group against any person or group. We have worked hard at every level to combat racism, including:

Domestically, we take seriously our obligations as a State Party to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. The United States implements these obligations through the operation of the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, and local laws, together with the federal and state machinery charged with protecting human rights. Our laws prohibit discrimination based on race in all areas of life, from education to housing to employment. We work to ensure that hate crimes are prosecuted, that law enforcement misconduct is investigated and remedied, and that our laws and programs ensure fair housing, fair lending, equal educational opportunity, equal employment opportunity and the right to vote are enjoyed by all, without regard to race.

Bilaterally, we have co-funded and cooperated in anti-racism programs around the world, such as the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality and the U.S.-Colombia Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality; and

Multilaterally, we have pledged $650,000 to UNESCO to develop an anti-racism curriculum; provided resources to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-descendants and against Racial Discrimination; and joined other countries in the Western Hemisphere to focus on the International Year for People of African Descent.

But the United States believes that even the best-intentioned efforts to combat racism must also preserve robust freedom of expression. We are concerned that the Special Rapporteur, for example, recommends that States prohibit advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence; dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred; and incitement to racial discrimination. He also invokes the limitations in Articles 19-22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, apparently to suggest that States should control the Internet or other new technologies to prevent extremists from spreading material that is deemed racist. In its recommendations, the Working Group invokes Article 4 of the International Covenant on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to underline the need to criminalize racism.

We remain deeply concerned about speech that advocates national, racial, or religious hatred, particularly when it seeks to incite imminent violence, discrimination, or hostility. But based on our own experience, the United States remains convinced that the best antidote to offensive speech is not bans and punishments but a combination of three key elements: robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive government outreach to racial and religious groups, and the vigorous speech that challenges the premises and conclusions of hateful speech.

Thank you very much Madame President.

 


U.S. Statement on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Thank you, Madame President.

The United States is profoundly committed to ending racism and racial discrimination. We remain fully and firmly committed to upholding the human rights of all people and to combating racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, anti-Semitism and bigotry, including through enhanced implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This commitment is rooted in the saddest chapters of our history and reflected in the most cherished values of our union. We will continue to work in partnership with all nations of goodwill to uphold human rights and combat racism, bigotry, and racial discrimination in all forms and all places.

Our concerns about the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) are well-known, including its unfair and unacceptable singling out of Israel and its endorsement of overbroad restrictions on freedom of expression that run counter to the U.S. commitment to robust free speech. But we will always stand ready to work with others in the effort to combat racism, bigotry, and racial discrimination.

The United States has just pledged $650,000 in extra-budgetary funds to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to develop and disseminate an anti-racism educational curriculum titled “Teaching Respect for All.” As an outcome of President Obama’s March 2011 visit to Brazil, the Brazilian government is partnering with us on this important initiative. The curriculum will be developed over two years, after which time it will be available for global dissemination by UNESCO through its contacts with education ministries, as well as its extensive network of affiliated schools.

In the Western Hemisphere, the United States is working bilaterally with Brazil and Colombia on Action Plans to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality, sharing best practices and implementing programs to improve access to the justice system, political institutions, employment, health care, education, and environmental justice for people of African descent and indigenous people in our societies.

We look forward to working with other nations to strengthen efforts to combat racism around the world.

Thank you, Madame President.

 


The 10th Anniversary of the Durban Conference

Several months ago, the United States announced that we would not participate in the 10-year commemoration of the 2001 Durban Conference. Consistent with that decision, we are not attending today’s high level event in New York.

Since its inception at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, the Durban process has included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism. In 2009, after working to try to achieve a positive, constructive outcome in the Durban Review Conference that would get past the deep flaws of the Durban process to date to focus on the critical issues of racism, the United States withdrew from participating because the review conference’s outcome document reaffirmed, in its entirety, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) from 2001, which unfairly and unacceptably singled out Israel. The DDPA also endorsed overbroad restrictions on freedom of expression that run counter to the U.S. commitment to robust free speech.

Last December, the United States voted against the resolution establishing the commemoration because we did not want to see the hateful and anti-Semitic displays of the 2001 Durban Conference commemorated.

Over the last few months, we did not participate in negotiations on the Commemoration’s Political Declaration document and, like many other countries, we were not present when the Declaration was adopted. We are also deeply disappointed that the rules established for credentialing non-governmental organizations to participate were used by some delegations to silence voices critical of the Durban process.

The United States is profoundly committed to ending racism and racial discrimination. We remain fully and firmly committed to upholding the human rights of all people and to combating racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance, anti-Semitism and bigotry, including through enhanced implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This commitment is rooted in the saddest chapters of our history and reflected in the most cherished values of our union. We will continue to work in partnership with all nations of goodwill to uphold human rights and combat racism, bigotry, and racial discrimination in all forms and all places.

 


Spokesperson Nuland on the Detention of Sub-Saharan African Refugees and Migrants in Libya

The United States is deeply concerned about reports of arbitrary detention and abuse of sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees. We also understand that some Libyans are also being victimized based on the color of their skin. Nobody should be detained or harassed due to the color of their skin or their nationality, and measures must be taken to protect individuals from acts of violence.

We have welcomed the Transitional National Council’s (TNC) assurances of their commitment to safeguard the well-being of individuals throughout Libya and the TNC leadership’s cooperation with those international agencies engaged in identifying and assisting those at risk and/or detained, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Organization for Migration. We look forward to prompt implementation of these measures.

The United States is working with its international partners to facilitate safe passage out of Libya for those foreign nationals, including sub-Saharan African migrants, who wish to depart for their own safety.

 


Special Representative Rosenthal to Address Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism

Special Representative for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal will address the second annual conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA) on November 8th and 9th in Ottawa, Canada. She will discuss detecting the six forms of anti-Semitism.

Hosted in partnership with the Canadian Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, the Ottawa ICCA Conference will assemble parliamentarians from around the world who have an active interest or involvement in fighting anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of intolerance. Its purpose is to share knowledge and best practices of confronting anti-Semitism.

 
 

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