Explanation Before a Third Committee Vote on A/C3/72/L.56/Rev.1 on Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism & other practices that contribute

Robin Brooks
New York City
November 16, 2017


As previously stated, the United States unequivocally condemns the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and related intolerance. Therefore, it is with particular regret that we had no choice but to call a vote and vote “no” on this resolution again this year, due to the exact same concerns we have raised in previous years.

As we noted in introducing our amendment, these concerns center around the resolution’s inappropriate focus on criminalizing free speech and expression and its vague references to “extremism” and “extremist political parties,” which are of a geopolitical nature, divorced from the principles of human rights, and completely unrelated to a genuine desire to effectively combat racism or xenophobia – much less discrimination or violence on the basis of anti-Semitism or of sexual orientation or gender identity, all of which were key elements of Nazi ideology.

We condemn without reservation all forms of racial, religious, and ethnic intolerance or hatred, as well as all other forms of hatred at home and around the world. And, we remain a leader and active partner in promoting remembrance of the Holocaust and other genocides worldwide while continuing to spur efforts to bring perpetrators of these and other atrocities to justice.

Due to this resolution’s overly narrow scope and politicized nature and because it calls for unacceptable limits on the fundamental freedom of expression, the United States cannot support it. We are particularly concerned about the vague terminology that attempts to capture “incitement” or “incitement to discrimination,” which can and has been used by governments to inappropriately target political opponents and undermine the ability of civil society to shine a light on human rights abuses in their countries.

From our own experience and history, the United States remains convinced that the best antidote to offensive speech is, in fact, free speech. Rather than bans, censorship, or criminal punishments, we have established robust legal mechanisms that protect individual liberties and defend against discrimination and violence. Our public school system educates our children about history – including the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust – and teaches generations of Americans the importance of respect, civil rights, and fundamental freedoms. This has helped us develop a culture that celebrates diversity, rather than one that denounces it.

With regard to the Third Committee resolution at hand, we intend to work with likeminded states to propose an alternative approach next year, rather than accept this resolution and its fundamental flaws as the only platform on this important matter. Our alternative will emphasize that governments should not sit idly by in the face of intolerance. Instead, they should speak out against racism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance, and they should employ tools to address intolerance that include a combination of robust legal protections against discrimination and bias-motivated violence, proactive government outreach, educational programming, and the vigorous defense of human and civil rights and fundamental freedoms.

For all of these reasons, the United States will vote “no” on this resolution and calls on other states to do the same.