Explanation of Position on UN General Assembly Resolutions on “Enlightenment and Religious Tolerance” [A/73/L.52] and “Promotion of Interreligious and

Ashley Bagwell
Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
December 12, 2018


Mr. Chair, the United States firmly supports efforts to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue and cooperation. However, while we join consensus on these resolutions, we take this opportunity to clarify important points.

The United States strongly supports the freedoms of expression and religion or belief. We oppose any attempts to unduly limit the exercise of these fundamental freedoms, and thus disassociate where new text negotiated in this year’s resolutions suggests that protection for freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief are at odds with one another. We strongly believe that protecting the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression promotes mutual respect and pluralism, and is essential to human dignity and a robust civil society. We firmly believe that all people should be free to choose and practice their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and heart. The freedom of religion plays an important societal role and is crucial to the creation of tolerant and respectful societies in which negative stereotypes will carry little meaning. Rather than seek restrictions to expression to deal with intolerance, the United States advocates for robust protections for speech, as well as the enforcement of appropriate legal regimes that deal with discriminatory acts and hate crimes.

The United States strongly believes in working together to build a more secure and peaceful world through the promotion of justice, democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. Regarding the invocation of “moderation,” we are concerned that the implementation of moderation-focused programs and policies could be subject to abuse. In particular, we are concerned that such programs and policies could undermine enjoyment of freedoms of expression and thought, conscience and religion, or belief.

With regard to references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in this resolution, we addressed our concerns regarding such references in a general explanation of position delivered on November 8 in the Second Committee and in an explanation of position in the General Assembly regarding the resolution entitled “Sport as an Enabler of Sustainable Development” under agenda item 12, adopted on December 3.

Thank you, Chair.