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General Statement on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism
June 23, 2017

Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (A/HRC/35/L.27)

General Statement by the United States of America,
as delivered by Jason Mack

UN Human Rights Council – 35th Session
Geneva, June 23, 2017

The United States is pleased to co-sponsor the resolution on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, and urges all states to support this resolution without amendment and by consensus.  It is essential that states promote and protect human rights while addressing the scourge of terrorism at home and around the world.  Indeed, the basic premise of this resolution, that states hold the primary responsibility under international law to protect and promote human rights in the context of counterterrorism, must continue to be the guiding principle of how this Council addresses this topic.

OP15 of this resolution reaffirms the important role that civil society organizations and human rights defenders play in countering violent extremism by promoting a fair and just society where all persons enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms.  We are gravely concerned that civil society groups and individual human rights defenders may be inappropriately targeted under unduly restrictive counterterrorism laws.  We understand OP15 as calling upon States to ensure only that their counterterrorism efforts are implemented appropriately in a manner consistent with their international obligations.

While we do not agree with all of the factual and legal assertions in the Special Rapporteur’s most recent report, including regarding the scope of human rights obligations of non-state actors, we nonetheless appreciate the efforts of the Special Rapporteur.  Moreover, we note that U.S. law sets rigorous standards for government access to personal data, based on clear and accessible legal rules, with data collected only for legitimate purposes, and privacy interests protected by independent multi-layered oversight, with effective remedies for violations of privacy rights.

We look forward to continue working with all delegations to build and expand consensus on this important topic.