Explanation of Vote before the Vote on a Third Committee Resolution on the Glorification of Nazism

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 15, 2018


As previously noted, for the first time ever, the United States actively engaged in negotiations on this resolution. Despite our constructive proposals on the draft, we failed to achieve consensus in the room. We then proposed an amendment that – while it did not succeed in gaining a majority support, we do note with appreciation the delegations that abstained on the amendment and encourage you to work with us next year to help find ways to improve this text. We thank you for your support on that.

I want to note that outside of these chambers and separate apart from this resolution, we know that we do not defeat hate, racism, tyranny, ideological extremism, or totalitarian oppression by abstaining, by sitting on the sidelines, or declining to act. We defeat these hateful ideologies by taking action, standing up for principles, and choosing a side. We can acknowledge that Member States today did not have adequate time to consider our amendment, but you have had adequate time to consider the problems of this resolution. And they are well-known to all and sundry in this room.

As Elie Wiesel said in his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim…Action is the only remedy to indifference.” When she visited Yad Vashem, Ambassador Haley chose this quote for her inscription at that sacred and profound memorial because “leadership means taking a stand. It means never forgetting that there is good and evil in the world. We must take sides.”

We know that there are some Member States that have purported throughout this process to share our deeply held concerns on this resolution. They’ve expressed these concerns vigorously in the room. We encourage them not to support this resolution today, to take a stand, to vote against it.

For all of the reasons that we’ve stated earlier, the United States will continue to condemn and without any reservations all forms of racial and religious and ethnic intolerance or hatred, as well as all other forms of hatred at home and abroad. We remain a leader and active partner in promoting these efforts with others, including efforts to remember the Holocaust and other genocides around the world. We will continue spurring efforts to bring perpetrators of these atrocities to justice.

We deeply regret this resolution is not designed to actually combat the global threat of modern Nazism, anti-Semitism, and totalitarian ideology. The resolution inappropriately focuses on criminalizing free speech and expression. As in years past, one nation has chosen to hijack this resolution, narrow its scope, and use it as a political weapon against its neighbors. For those reasons, and because it calls for unacceptable limits on the fundamental freedom of expression, the United States must vote against this resolution.

We are particularly concerned about the vague terminology that attempts to capture “incitement” or “incitement to discrimination,” which can be 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.

The United States strongly disagrees with the resolution’s willingness to curb freedom of expression. While we share concerns over the rise in hate speech around the globe, this resolution’s recommendations to limit freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to peaceful assembly contravene the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and must be opposed.

Similarly, we encourage states to refrain from invoking Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Article 20 of the ICCPR to limit freedom of expression or as an excuse for failing to take effective actions to combat intolerance in its many forms.

As we have done for decades, the United States will once again vote “No” on this resolution. We encourage all Member States who share our concerns, our values, and our principles to do the same.

Thank you.