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Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights and with the Working Group on Discriminati
May 31, 2013

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed and with the Working Group on Discrimination against Women

Statement by the U.S. Delegation to the UN Human Rights Council
UN Human Rights Council – 23rd Session

May 31, 2013

Thank you, Mr. President.

Artistic expression and creativity can work to challenge, change, and inspire us.  They allow us to imagine and envision different realities and hopeful futures. And they can play a vital role in strengthening communities.

We view artistic freedom as grounded in the right to freedom of expression, which is protected under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and, in our domestic system, under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

As such, we believe that artistic expression and creativity are entitled to full legal protection and we agree with the report about the importance of providing the same legal protection for expression, including artistic expression, for all individuals, regardless of cultural identity or background.  The United States Government does not permit censorship of artworks, and artistic expression is generally not restricted based on its content or viewpoint.

We would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for taking the time to thoroughly examine how protecting freedom of expression is so essential to the enjoyment of many other rights, including cultural rights.

We also welcome the reports of the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practiceand the Report on Discrimination Against Women on Nationality-related Matters, including the impact on children.

The United States is committed to placing women and girls at the center of our foreign policy.  Investing in women and girls—by ensuring equal access to education, healthcare, justice, and economic opportunity—helps bring about peaceful societies and inclusive economic growth.

We commend the Working Group for its first thematic report on current achievements in women’s political representation.  This report focuses on challenges to women’s equal, full, and effective participation in political and public life in the context of democracy and human rights, including in times of political transition.  Around the world, too many women face obstacles to participating in government, the economy, and society as a whole.  When critical decisions are being made, women’s voices are often muffled or even silenced.  In difficult economic times, women are disproportionately affected.

We are pleased that the Discrimination Against Women resolution at this session will focus on this issue and we look forward to UN Women’s report on this topic to the General Assembly next fall.

We also commend the Working Group for its report on Nationality-related Matters.  This report highlights laws in thirty countries that — despite progress made in many countries —  still do not grant women equal rights with men with regard to the nationality of their children.  While we take a different view than the Working Group on Section V’s treatment of non-nationals in the report, we applaud the extremely well researched, thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of a woman’s equal right to nationality, which is critical to preventing and reducing statelessness around the world.

When women can participate in their governments; when they can work in dignity; and when they are given the chance to build their knowledge, skills, and networks to improve their own lives, we come one step closer to a future of equality.  Women’s participation in the political process and in public life leads to stronger societies, since women invest in their families and communities.  We are all aware of the research which shows that greater economic growth and stronger societies depend upon advances in women and girls’ health, education and participation in the economy.

We thank the members of the Working Group and the Special Rapporteur for their tireless efforts to promote human rights in law and in practice, and look forward to continuing updates on these mandates.

Thank you, Mr. President.