Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
Statement as Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council – 49th Session
March 22, 2022
Thank you, Madam Vice President, The United States is committed to addressing racial injustice and inequities at home. It is in this context that we welcomed Special Rapporteur de Varennes to conduct an official visit to the United States in November 2021. We thank you, Special Rapporteur de Varennes for your report, which highlights strengths of our democracy and lauds key laws and policies that protect individuals, preserve rights, and help provide opportunity, including for people belonging to minority communities. Nonetheless, your report is also a sobering reminder that we still have more work to do.
The report identifies several key challenges in our continuing efforts to realize “a more perfect Union.” We do not shy away from these challenges and would like to highlight a few of the steps the Biden Administration has taken to advance equity and confront the scourges of racism and discrimination.
Since the report was written, the U.S. government has continued to take action in a range of areas in response to President Biden’s Executive Orders. We are implementing the January 2021 Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and the November 2021 COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force’s final recommendations that address inequities in the health care system. The White House also appointed members to its newly established Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, which held its inaugural meeting last month.
The Department of Health and Human Services created an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity charged with looking at the impact of climate change and other environmental hazards on the health of the American people, particularly minority and underserved communities.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program is working to advance environmental justice for those living near Superfund sites, many of whom are minority or indigenous, through a robust community involvement program that advocates for early and meaningful community participation, including identifying and addressing environmental justice concerns.
The Environmental Protection Agency also has an office dedicated to helping U.S. territories, including Guam, to provide comprehensive protection of public health and the environment, and helping to provide more resources for effective support. This includes providing $13 million annually to Guam to support local environmental and health protection and infrastructure improvements.
The Biden Administration has also taken meaningful steps to combat hate crimes and hate incidents. Last May, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, providing a new range of tools to address and respond to acts of hate and violence.
The Department of Justice continues to prioritize the criminal and civil enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has elevated hate crimes to its highest-level national threat priority, increasing resources for hate crimes prevention and investigations and making hate crimes a focus for all 56 of the Bureau’s field offices.
In May 2021, Attorney General Garland issued a comprehensive memorandum that contained numerous directives to improve the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat hate crimes and hate incidents.
One year ago, President Biden signed Executive Order 14019 to Promote Voting Access, directing federal agencies to examine how to expand access to voter registration and election information. It also established a Native American voting rights steering group to ensure all eligible Americans can participate in our democracy.
Historic investments through the American Rescue Plan are supporting schools in recovering from the pandemic, tackling inter-generational educational disparities, addressing the holistic needs of children, and incentivizing states to help our schools rebuild on a stronger and more equitable foundation.
In closing, we appreciate the Special Rapporteur’s visit and look forward to considering your recommendations. Every democracy – every country – should join us in extending a standing invitation to UN special procedures mandate holders. Their work reinforces the United States’ steadfast and unrelenting commitment to acknowledge our flaws and to strengthen our society and our nation.
I thank you.