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Ambassador Donahoe: General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Intolerance and Durban Follow-up
March 23, 2010

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

Statement of the United States of America

Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council

Human Rights Council 13th Session,


March 23, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States Government recognizes that our history reflects lapses, challenges, struggles, and, encouragingly, on-going progress. We continue to examine ourselves, knowing that we are not immune to acts of intolerance and that it is only through hard work and careful scrutiny that we can push back against intolerance and discrimination both in the U.S. and around the world.

We thank the Chairperson Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee for his work and report, which reflects the various proposals put forward to address racial and religious discrimination and intolerance. We continue to believe that the Human Rights Council, and the Ad Hoc Committee in particular, can and should make a real contribution to the fight against discrimination. We look forward to our continued work with all delegations to provide a clear signal to victims of racial and religious discrimination that the UN is committed to taking steps to combat these scourges.

Our diverse society has become a source of pride for the United States. Earlier this month, during her trip to Latin America, Secretary Clinton spoke about her pride in the progress the United States has made, through the hard work of leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King and others in the civil rights movement, to combat racial discrimination. She noted, however, that it is not enough to simply write the laws that constitute visible legal barriers to discrimination; rather, eliminating racism is an ongoing struggle for the United States and for the rest of the world.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice fights this battle daily as it enforces the country’s civil rights laws, ensuring respect for our human rights treaty obligations. I would like to elaborate on some of the concrete initiatives our government is taking in this regard:

In October 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Protection Act, which expands protections under the federal hate crimes statute and removes barriers to prosecution. This legislation gives our Justice Department and state and local law enforcement important tools and increased capacity to deter and prosecute such acts of violence.

During our nationwide housing crisis, the enforcement of fair housing and fair lending protections have been the most pressing civil rights needs of families and communities. Among other successes in the past year, the Division obtained the Justice Department’s largest ever settlement in a rental housing discrimination case, 2 million, 725 thousand dollars, in a case that involved discrimination against African Americans and Latinos in several apartment communities in the Los Angeles area.

We value the work of the Council to continue to focus the world’s attention on building greater resolve and enduring political will to halt racism and racial discrimination wherever they occur. We look forward to continued opportunities to work in all United Nations fora and with all nations to combat bigotry and end discrimination.

Thank you, Mr. President.