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U.S. Statement on Item 3 General Debate
June 8, 2010

ITEM 3 General Debate

“Promotion of human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

Delivered by John Mariz

Human Rights Council 14th Session

Geneva, June 8, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President. The United States has a firm commitment to the protection and promotion of all human rights. We remain a stalwart defender of courageous individuals across the globe who work, often at great personal risk, on behalf of the rights of others.

We look forward to discussing practical ways this Council can promote and protect human rights and human dignity through its resolutions and other work. We strongly support the work of the Special Rapporteurs and the Independent Experts and the dialogue that their reports engender. While we may not all always agree entirely with every report, these mandate holders serve a vital function in drawing attention to and providing recommendations regarding pressing human rights situations around the world. As Member States, it is imperative that we continue to support the ability of these mandate holders to provoke discussion by respecting and protecting their independence.

We welcome the focus of this session on gender issues. Women’s rights are human rights and we greatly appreciate the work of the current mandate holders to highlight situations and promote women’s issues. There is, however, still much to be done in terms of addressing discrimination against women, and much that the HRC can contribute. We look forward to working with other member states on strengthening the ability of the Council to help promote and protect women’s rights, especially to address discrimination against women.

We are deeply committed to addressing concerns of intolerance and discrimination. We are eager to work with other members of the Council to renew the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief. We greatly appreciate the work of the current Rapporteur, Ms. Asma Jahangir and wish her well in her future endeavors.

We note that the Special Rapporteur has emphasized the interdependence of human rights, stating “the right to freedom of religion or belief needs other human rights to be fully exercised, including the right to freedom of association or the right to freedom of expression.” The United States has learned from its own imperfect past that free expression, including religious expression, strengthens social stability by fostering a climate of respect and understanding among diverse communities. We firmly support the full exercise of the freedom of expression and firmly believe that the strongest antidote to hateful speech is more speech, and that in the marketplace of ideas, religious hatred withers in the face of public scrutiny – not in the face of censorship.

Thank you, Mr. President