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U.S. Explanation of Vote – Rhetoric to Reality
September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012

The United States remains fully and firmly committed to combating racism, racial discrimination, and related forms of intolerance.  We believe the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”) provides comprehensive protections in this area and constitutes the relevant international framework to address all forms of racial discrimination.

For the United States, our commitment to combat these problems is rooted in the saddest chapters of our history and reflected in the most cherished values of our union.  And it is an ongoing challenge, as we heard from some of our colleagues in civil society at this session.  We will continue to work with civil society and all nations of goodwill to combat racism, racial discrimination, and related forms of intolerance in all forms and all places, including through enhancing our implementation of the CERD.

Nevertheless, while we agree with many elements of this resolution, we regret that we cannot support it for a number of reasons, including the ones described here.  We believe it serves as a vehicle to prolong the divisions caused by the Durban conference and its follow-up rather than a concrete approach for the international community to combat racism and racial discrimination.  Our concerns about the Durban Declaration are well-known, including its unfair and unacceptable singling out of Israel and its endorsement of overly broad restrictions on freedom of expression that run counter to the U.S. commitment to robust free speech.

This resolution also inappropriately attempts to revive the concept of defamation of religions, which had been correctly set aside by the OIC in resolution 16/18.  Additionally, while we agree with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent about the need for continued vigilance and concrete efforts to address the inequality faced by persons of African descent, as well as members of other racial and ethnic minorities, we are concerned that its proposed draft Programme of Action for a Decade for People of African Descent, including efforts to create new human rights instruments and programs, will – in our view —  do little to advance the needs of those it attempts to serve.

For these reasons we have voted no on this resolution.