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VDPA More Relevant Today Than Ever
February 25, 2013

Delivered by Paula Schriefer
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Commemorative Panel on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Human Rights Council 22nd Session

February 25, 2013

Thank you, Mr. President.

As the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action underscores, the protection and promotion of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms are, and I quote, “the first responsibility of Governments.”  Unyielding attention must be paid to the rights and freedoms of all individuals, particularly those who frequently remain marginalized, including children, persons with disabilities, members of minorities indigenous persons, and women, who represent half the world’s population.  The United States is honored to be a co-sponsor of tomorrow’s panel on the Power of Empowered Women and we look forward to seeing you all there, regardless of your gender.

We applaud the work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as initially recommended by the VDPA.  As the international community engages in the frequently difficult and complex pursuit of the guarantee of universal human rights, the Office of the High Commissioner has been invaluable.  OHCHR’s tireless work, from supporting special procedures, treaty bodies, and treaty negotiations, to providing vital technical assistance, to reporting on urgent situations, has been crucial in addressing human rights violations and promoting fundamental freedoms more effectively.

At the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, we called the VDPA “a strong forward-looking document.”  Twenty years later, this still holds true.  The VDPA’s call for the promotion of justice, freedom, and democracy worldwide rings relevant today, perhaps more than ever.  By remaining steadfastly committed to the language of this influential text, the international community may continue to celebrate the universality of human rights and work toward creating a freer, more just, more secure world.

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