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U.S. EOV on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the International Convention
March 24, 2017

Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the CERD


Explanation of  Vote by the United States of America,
As Delivered by William J. Mozdzierz,
Head of the U.S. Delegation

Human Rights Council 34th session
Geneva, March 24, 2017

The United States will call a vote and vote “no” on this resolution on the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The United States remains committed to combatting racism and racial discrimination as well as to implementing our existing obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and we encourage other states to implement their commitments and obligations in this regard.  We believe the CERD provides comprehensive protections and constitutes the primary international framework to address all forms of racial discrimination, which includes discrimination on the basis of national origin.  The push to negotiate a new protocol to the CERD not only distracts from the implementation of existing obligations, but risks undermining the Convention by implying that it does not already provide comprehensive protections in this area.  As several members of the CERD Committee have underscored to the Ad Hoc Committee, the CERD is sufficient to address contemporary forms of racism such as xenophobia and there is no need for a protocol on this issue.

We would also be deeply concerned if any new protocol were used as a vehicle to push for prohibiting or criminalizing protected forms of speech and expression.

The United States remains deeply concerned about speech that advocates national, racial, or religious hatred, particularly when it constitutes incitement to violence, discrimination, or hostility.  From our own experience and history, the United States remains convinced that the best antidote to offensive speech is not bans and punishments but a combination of three key elements:  robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes; proactive government outreach to racial and religious communities; and the vigorous protection of freedom of expression, both on- and off-line.

We call upon all delegations to oppose this resolution and to vote “no.”