Explanation of Position by the United States of America as delivered by Jason Mack
Human Rights Council, 36th Session
Geneva, September 29, 2017
Thank you, Mr. President.
We thank Guatemala and Mexico for the annual resolution on human rights and indigenous peoples. We were disappointed that we could not reach a compromise on language that would have allowed us to co-sponsor this resolution. The United States welcomes the tenth anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – an instrument with significant moral and political force that the United States looks to in its dealings with federally recognized Native American tribes – even though the Declaration is not itself binding and does not state or reflect international law.
While the Declaration has helped inspire the development of domestic laws in some countries and has influenced the development of guidelines such as the World Bank Safeguards and the Organization of American States’ nonbinding American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the phrase “progressive development” in preambular paragraph 3 could have broader implications than would be appropriate or factually accurate.
For this reason, we asked for the removal of the word “progressive” and it is unfortunate that our recommendation was not accepted.
As is well known, the United States places priority on promoting the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples in relevant UN processes and forums. We were pleased to play an active role in reforming the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in the UN General Assembly Process to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples at the UN. We hope to continue our active work in this body, promoting the rights of indigenous peoples.