Item 9 General Debate
Statement of the United States of America
As delivered by Kelly Billingsley
United Nations Human Rights Council 51st Session
Thank you, Mr. President
The United States welcomes this opportunity to reiterate our steadfast commitment to countering racial discrimination and injustice, wherever it occurs.
At the dawn of the 1900s, African American luminary Dr. W.E.B. DuBois fatefully observed, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Sadly, his words remain just as relevant in the twenty-first century, where race remains a critical fault line and racism a global human rights scourge.
The deeply rooted legacies of racism and racial discrimination run deep and span centuries, but the global reckoning on racial justice in the last two years has invigorated our collective imperative to act.
In announcing the U.S. return to this Council, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We must do more to advance racial justice globally. We are eager to find a more effective and inclusive way to put ‘fighting racism’ at the top of the global human rights agenda.”
We are working to make good on this pledge, both at home and abroad. In June, Secretary Blinken appointed Desirée Cormier Smith as the Department’s first Special Representative for Racial Equality and Justice. In August, Special Representative Cormier Smith co-led [with me] the United States delegation, made up of over 30 members from across the U.S. Government, and presentation of its periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination here in Geneva. The report highlighted our many actions to address racial and ethnic discrimination in the United States. We engaged closely with civil society prior to our presentation. We value their input and that of the Committee, and we are committed to continuing to make progress on racial justice.
Our domestic efforts are matched by our foreign policy. The United States strongly supported the establishment of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent and the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Equality and Justice in Law Enforcement. And we have worked with human rights defenders, activists, members of minority communities, and NGOs to confront racism and xenophobia across the world.
There is a great deal more to do. We must address systemic inequalities in access to health care, housing, services, and work. We must confront hate speech, cultural repression, and the unequal effects of environmental degradation.
We look forward to continuing to work with all of you here, within and beyond the HRC, on these pressing issues.
I thank you.