Item 8 General Debate on the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action
Statement As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
Delegation of the United States of America
UN Human Rights Council 49th Session
March 25, 2022
Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action recommends actions to “promote democracy, development and human rights,” with an emphasis on the “strengthening of a pluralistic civil society and the protection of groups which have been rendered vulnerable.”
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to renewing democracy in the United States and around the world. In 2021, President Biden held the first of two Summits for Democracy, which brought together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector in our shared effort to set forth an affirmative agenda for strengthening democracy by showcasing how democracies deliver.
The Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal includes the United States’ flagship international commitments for the Summit and focuses on bolstering free and independent media; fighting corruption; defending free and fair elections; bolstering democracy reformers; and harnessing technology for democratic renewal.
The Vienna Declaration also states that “every individual has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, expression and religion,” and that non-governmental organizations “should be free to carry out their human rights activities, without interference.”
However, in far too many countries, civil society, human rights defenders, and journalists are under attack. Increasingly, these threats come from governments reaching beyond their borders, including through misuse of digital surveillance tools.
In the spirit of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, we call upon States to defend civil society, lift restrictions on civic space, and hold accountable those responsible for acts of reprisal.
Our unyielding commitment to advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms is driven by the conviction that international peace, security, and prosperity are strengthened when human rights and fundamental freedoms are upheld.