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Promotion of Rights of Minorities Advances the Causes of Human Rights and Prosperity
March 14, 2012

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council 19th Session

Panel on the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities


As Delivered by John Mariz

The United States appreciates the work of the Office of the High Commissioner and of the UN human rights bodies related to implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.  As the OHCHR report illustrates, there are numerous challenges that hinder full implementation of States’ obligations to protect the human rights of persons belonging to minorities.

This battle continues in our own country as we vigorously enforce laws that protect to the human rights of all individuals, including members of minorities, within the United States.  Our robust system of laws recognizes that the promotion and protection of civil rights, non-discrimination, and equal opportunity are fundamental to ensuring universal respect for human rights.  We have been working to promote and protect the human rights of minority individuals in many areas, including law enforcement, housing, education, employment, and political participation.

We are committed to ensuring full political participation in our democratic process through enforcement of our voting rights laws.  The right to vote is not only the cornerstone of our system of government – it is the lifeblood of our democracy.   And no force has proved more powerful – or more integral to the success of the great American experiment – than efforts to expand the franchise.

In the last three years, we have filed a record number of law enforcement misconduct and human trafficking cases.  The U.S. Department of Justice won a landmark conviction against five New Orleans police officers who were involved in shootings of civilians and an extensive cover-up that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

In December 2011, we filed our largest residential fair- lending settlement in history to resolve allegations that a mortgage company engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers.

We entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement that resolved allegations of severe and pervasive harassment of Asian-American students.

The United States looks forward to strengthening our partnerships with UN bodies, governments, and civil society to promote and protect the human rights of persons belonging to minorities.  We look forward to this panel’s discussion of ways to develop joint ventures or share best practices as we commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration.  Promotion of the rights of persons belonging to minorities advances the causes of human rights and prosperity everywhere.

Thank you.