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U.S. Statement for Item 3 General Debate
March 9, 2018

As delivered by Jason Mack,
U.S. Delegation to the Human Rights Council
Geneva, March 9, 2018

Thank you Mr. President,

As the Council commemorates the anniversaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, we are concerned by efforts to inappropriately collectivize human rights, which are rights guaranteed to individuals, as well as by efforts to make development a precondition for the fulfillment of human rights obligations and commitments.  We note that in the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, states agreed that “while development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights.”  That same document called “upon all states, regardless of level of development, to urgently implement their human rights obligations and also to provide an effective domestic framework of remedies to redress human rights grievances or violations.”

We would also like to note with concern China’s continued attempts to import domestic political terms into the UN context in an effort to undermine the existing normative framework, including in the area of human rights. We will continue to oppose such efforts to insert propaganda in place of substantive language that furthers the UN agenda.

Separately, with regard to the Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations, we are concerned that the group is detracting from the valuable foundation laid by the UN Guiding Principles.  The IGWG runs counter to the voluntary and multi-stakeholder approach that has been so critical to the adoption and implementation of the Guiding Principles.  It also challenges the consensus-based approach to business and human rights-related issues at the Human Rights Council and other relevant fora.

The Guiding Principles provide global guidelines for avoiding and addressing adverse human rights impacts that involve business activity – and they set the baseline for international efforts in this area.  A one-size-fits-all instrument is not the right approach to address all adverse business impacts on human rights, and the Guiding Principles were deliberately designed to avoid this kind of outcome.  The Guiding Principles represent a creative consensus-based approach to solving problems presented to non-State actors and States.  We believe this approach is necessary for continued progress.

Thank you.