U.S. Statement at HRC Inter-sessional Panel Commemorating Nelson Mandela

As delivered by Jason Mack.Human Rights Council Archives

Geneva
April 27, 2018

“To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

Nelson Mandela uttered many powerful words about racism, poverty, and other facets of human suffering, but this statement resonates particularly strongly in the context of today’s meeting.  As we sit in this chamber, a place meant to safeguard human rights for all persons, it is a great privilege to be able to commemorate Mandela’s legacy.

Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to the betterment of vulnerable persons.  He fought against racism, discrimination, and intolerance.  He made clear that income inequality and poverty can prevent people from fully enjoying their human rights.  His work to eradicate HIV/AIDS serves as just one example of how to advocate effectively for vulnerable groups.

Nelson Mandela overcame tremendous adversity and maintained an unwavering resolve for dignity and justice.  He sought to unite a country divided and to advance reconciliation.  A leader in crafting the new post-Apartheid South African constitution, he led South Africa in adopting a progressive document – a constitution that made significant strides in advancing and protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals.

The United States strongly supports the elimination of racial discrimination throughout the world and is committed to continuing on the path to a world free from injustice.  While there is still much progress to be made, we must continue our work, both internationally and domestically, to combat racism, racial discrimination, and intolerance.

With tremendous courage, compassion, and dedication, Nelson Mandela set an example of how to stand against discrimination and inequality in all forms.  Throughout his life, he championed the freedoms of religion, expression, peaceful assembly, and association.  Today, we underscore how grateful we are for the legacy Nelson Mandela left in advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms both in South Africa and around the world.

Thank you.