An official website of the United States government

EOP: Mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent
September 30, 2011

Explanation of Position by the United States of America

Resolution: Mandate of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

UN Human Rights Council, 18th Session


Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

September 2011

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 by enhancing our 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.

Nevertheless our concerns about the DDPA are well known and we cannot therefore endorse all efforts undertaken by the WG in this regard. The US will therefore disassociate from consensus on the resolution before us. 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.

We are confident that beneath our shared differences, we share the same goals and we are proud of efforts we have jointly made in this and other forums to underscore this fact.  We support the objective of the Working Group to explore means of combating racial discrimination against persons of African descent around the world.  This topic is important to us, and we want to be able to support it.  The United States supported declaring 2011 the UN Year of People of African Descent and has worked on important programs to combat racism, including special sessions at the OAS, bilateral work with Brazil and Colombia, and programming at our embassies around the world.