Explanation of Vote at a UN General Assembly Session on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Edward Heartney
Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
September 1, 2023


Mr. President, the United States supports close cooperation between the UN and various international organizations to make progress on our international challenges, in line with the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other relevant international law. Accordingly, the United States has joined consensus on numerous resolutions similar to this one that encourage cooperation between such organizations and the United Nations.

However, at the behest of some of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s members, the SCO has continued to emphasize policies and positions that are inconsistent with the UN Charter. These policies and positions including justifying Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and emphasizing the concepts of cultural and civilizational diversity as a cover for attempts to undermine universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.

SCO Member States are challenging the rule of law and international asylum practices by prosecuting individuals for speaking out about regional political autonomy – by committing to repatriate dissidents based on the accusations of other SCO members. Additionally, the United States disagrees with the SCO’s position that equates terrorism, separatism, and extremism. This position provides states with the pretext to repress political opponents and dissent, restrict the activities of civil society, and marginalize ethnic and religious minorities – all ostensibly in the name of “countering terrorism.” Such government overreach is wrong and – in addition – can actually undermine counterterrorism efforts.

As the General Assembly has underscored repeatedly in reviews of the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law are complementary and mutually reinforcing with effective counterterrorism measures. Taken together, the United States cannot support a resolution that emphasizes policies and positions that are inconsistent with the UN Charter.

That is why we have voted “no” accordingly. Thank you, Mr. President.