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Item 5 – General Debate
Statement As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
September 29, 2023

Item 5 – General Debate

Human Rights Council – 54th Session

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor


Thank you, Mr. President.

I hope that I join everyone in this room in the pride we feel to be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). We look forward to sharing the U.S. commitments in December and hearing from other states how they, too, plan to advance human rights.

The rights and freedoms enshrined in the UDHR have never been more important. They underpin and are the focus of all our work in this Council and at the United Nations. The UDHR stresses that [quote] “a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge.” [end quote] The drafters of the UDHR knew 75 years ago that time would test the enduring value of their promises. It is incumbent upon us in these times to be the responsible stewards of that shared understanding that has endured thus far.

While we often discuss here at the HRC the timeless principles at the core of the UDHR, there isn’t always a shared understanding of what they mean in practice. I say this because we are seeing growing threats to civil society, including human rights defenders; backlash against those willing to speak truth to power; and violent suppression of protests and demonstrations.

It is critical that we recommit to the UDHR and address directly and truthfully any threat to the rights and freedoms reflected therein. Despite the many challenges we face, I have been inspired by those across the world who continue to bravely stand up to repressive governments. Equally, I am grateful for the times that we work together to demand respect for all human rights: civil, political, economic, social, and cultural.

The UDHR inspires us to look inward at issues in our own countries. The United States has issued a standing invitation to thematic Special Procedures mandate holders. In the past two and a half years, these experts have provided valuable insights and recommendations on minority issues, racism and law enforcement, and the challenges faced by LGBTQI+ persons, among other human rights challenges. We, in the U.S., maintain deep respect for those mandate holders, even when our views do not fully align.

I remain optimistic for what the future brings in hopes that we can strive to collectively uphold the timeless principles reflected in the UDHR.

I thank you.