Explanation of Position by the United States of America
as delivered by Jason Mack
Human Rights Council, 37th Session
Geneva, March 23, 2018
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States is pleased to join consensus on this resolution regarding terrorism and human rights. We thank the main sponsors, in particular Egypt and Mexico, for their efforts to merge together two related elements of the Council’s work into a single resolution, and for their willingness to improve many aspects of the text. We regret that the short timeline to negotiate this resolution left us unable to resolve all of our concerns. The United States makes the following statement to supplement its explanation of position on Agenda Item 3 matters in order to clarify its position on certain issues pertinent to this resolution.
It is essential that States respect their human rights obligations and commitments, including with regard to freedom of opinion and expression, while addressing the scourge of terrorism. The fact 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 the Council addresses this topic.
We understand OP6 of this resolution to conform to the meaning laid out in OP9 of HRC Resolution 35/34. We understand the reference in OP7 to States’ acting “in accordance with their obligations under international law” to mean that, if a State carries out the stated actions within its criminal justice system, it should do so in a manner consistent with its applicable international obligations; it should not be understood to suggest the existence of particular obligations to implement the actions described. Nothing in this resolution, including OPs 12 and 13 requesting States to take certain actions to counter terrorism, alters States’ obligations under applicable international law, including decisions of the UN Security Council.
We understand OP8 to mean that States must comply with their international obligations, including nondiscrimination provisions of international human rights treaties to which they are a party, as applicable, when taking measures to counter terrorism and violent extremism.
OP19 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 OP19 as calling upon States to ensure only that their counterterrorism efforts are implemented appropriately in a manner consistent with their international obligations.