Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Allows Multicultural Society to Flourish

Panel on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
in a Multicultural Context

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Emily Fleckner

Human Rights Council 20th Session
Geneva
June 29, 2012

Thank you, Mr Vice President andAmbassador Badr.

The United States is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights everywhere, including in multicultural contexts. We are a nation of immigrants and indigenous peoples, committed to the proposition that all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or other status should enjoy equal protection of the law and of their human rights.

It is the protection and promotion of human rights that allows for a multicultural society to flourish, not the other way around, as the resolution that established this panel implied. Discrimination, violence, and human rights violations cannot be blamed on the supposed societal “rejection of multiculturalism” – states are responsible for protecting human rights, and this protection is the basis for a successful multicultural society.

Fighting discrimination requires equal protection of human rights for all individuals, including women, members of religious minorities, and LGBT people. As Secretary Clinton has said, “no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.” Protecting human rights enables individuals to express and practice their religious and cultural traditions.

Discussing concrete and practical steps governments can take to implement their human rights obligations is a productive way of addressing issues of discrimination and intolerance. The Council has already taken this approach in the context of discrimination and intolerance on the basis of religion or belief through Resolution 16/18 and its implementation. The work of this Council must focus on promoting and protecting human rights – not on exploring ambiguous and extraneous concepts.

I would like to pose two questions to the panel:

• Special Rapporteur Shaheed has emphasized that “No one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope.” Where do you see this being the biggest threat?
• Where do you see members of minority groups flourishing the most, and why?

Thank you, Mr Vice President.

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