Item 8 General Debate on the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action
Human Rights Council – 54th Session
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
On the 30th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, the United States underscores the essential role of democracy in realizing the values of the VDPA, including that “the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms … should be universal and conducted without conditions attached.”
The VDPA recognizes democracy is “based on the freely expressed will of the people,” and, as such, empowers individuals to hold governments accountable to their human rights obligations. Sadly, activists promoting democracy are under attack worldwide.
We call attention to the situation of democracy activists around the world who have faced prosecutions, detentions, threats, and harassment, including:
Burma democracy activist Lin Htet Naing who was arrested last year and sentenced to eight years for organizing peaceful strikes resisting the military regime;
Burundian activist and radio journalist Floriane Irangabiye, who was arbitrarily arrested last year, and is serving a 10-year prison sentence for criticizing the government of Burundi;
Cuban musician, and co-founder of the artist-activist collective San Isidro Movement, Maykel “Osorbo” Castillo, who was sentenced to nine years in prison last year for criticizing Cuban officials on social media and for evading arbitrary detention;
Iranian activist Majid Tavakoli, who has been imprisoned multiple times, but continues to fight for democracy, rule of law, and human rights; and
Russian pro-democracy advocate and human rights defender Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has survived two poisoning attempts and is now serving an unconscionable 25-year prison sentence in connection with his criticism of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
To truly honor the VDPA and what it stands for, the international community must do more to promote and strengthen democracy and protect democracy activists who fight for the respect and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
I thank you.