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U.S. Explanation of Vote on HRC Resolution on the Effects of Terrorism on Human Rights
March 23, 2017

Effects of Terrorism on Human Rights Resolution


Explanation of Vote by the United States of America

Human Rights Council, 34th Session
Geneva, March 23, 2017

The United States has serious concerns and questions about the focus and intention of this resolution.  As shown by ongoing international dialogue in this body and in the broader UN system, the issue of protecting human rights while countering terrorism is of fundamental importance to ensure that governments do not engage in counterproductive activities that fail to prevent terrorism and violent extremism over the long-term.  The draft resolution before us today is not a constructive way to advance that dialogue and contains many problematic elements that require us to vote against it.

Many aspects of this text deviate from well-established consensus texts on human rights and counterterrorism adopted both here in the HRC and in other fora.  As a whole, the text lacks the balance that is necessary for a resolution of this Council.  The resolution selectively emphasizes the importance of some rights, such as the right to life, without giving due consideration to the many other rights at stake.  It also misstates and mischaracterizes others rights; for example, there is no human right “to live in … security” or “to be protected at all times from the threat of terrorism.”  These mischaracterizations leave us concerned that the resolution could be used to justify state action in the fight against terrorism that does not protect – and may, in some cases, undermine or harm – human rights and fundamental freedoms.  In addition, we firmly believe that both this Council and the Advisory Committee lack the expertise in topics at focus in this resolution: foreign direct investment, the operations of financial markets, macroeconomic policy, and intelligence sharing.

We thank the main sponsors of this resolution for the frank exchanges we have had and for their willingness to improve some aspects of the text over the course of negotiations.  We hope to have continued dialogue on this topic in the future.  Such dialogue will be critical, as it is essential that future efforts on this important topic are the result of careful deliberations and are able to garner consensus among the members of this body.  Victims of terrorism – including those cruelly struck down yesterday in the heart of the capital city of a member of this Council – deserve no less.

In light of our concerns regarding this text, however, we will vote against this resolution and urge other Council members to vote “no.”