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HRC 29: Human rights and the regulation of civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms
July 2, 2015

EOV by the Delegation of the United States of America

Human Rights Council 29th Session
July 2, 2015

Mr. President and Other Council Members:

The United States has an unwavering commitment to protecting innocent lives from all forms of unlawful violence.  We are still grieving over the incomprehensible loss of life in Charleston, South Carolina, and in a church that, as President Obama said, has “a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.”  These types of tragedies happen too frequently, and we continue to look inward as a nation for domestic solutions.

And that reflects the crux of our concern with this resolution, and why we regretfully have called a vote and abstained.

We understand the co-sponsors intend this resolution to raise awareness of the human rights implications of the misuse of firearms.  We nonetheless remain concerned that this resolution could be interpreted by some to address topics far beyond the competency of the Human Rights Council.

To avoid such misinterpretation, the United States must state its position.  We do not believe that a State’s regulation of the purely domestic acquisition, possession, and use of firearms is an appropriate topic for international attention generally or the Human Rights Council specifically.  Further, we do not regard the domestic actions suggested by this resolution to be required by international human rights obligations.  And we do not interpret this resolution as giving any international body or its representatives a voice in the domestic regulation of firearms.

We agree that domestic regulatory action can help deter the criminal misuse of firearms.  We regard firearms transfer or possession by private persons or non-state actors as falling within the sovereign responsibility that each government has toward its population.  And we believe that it is the sovereign and exclusive right of any state to regulate and control conventional arms within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.

Thank you.