Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 14, 2023
Thank you, Madam President.
Standing for freedom of expression and religion or belief, it is U.S. policy to support the protection of human rights as a central tenet of international peace and security, and we view efforts toward that end as foundational to the mission of the United Nations and to our work together here in the Security Council. Human Fraternity – in the words of President Biden – can build “a better world that upholds universal human rights, lifts every human being, and advances peace and security for all.”
We appreciate that this meeting today and the vote on this resolution is occurring in a broader global context in which fundamental rights and freedoms are under assault as never before, including by governments seeking to infringe on those rights under the cover of “combatting extremism.” It is an utmost U.S. priority with this resolution that the Council not appear to be granting license to states to repress dissenting views under the pretext of “countering extremism” or maintaining peace or societal harmony.
For years, the UN has appropriately focused on addressing violent extremism, including in the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and existing commitments Member States have made to prevent and counter violent extremism.
In the context of such efforts, the Security Council has also been clear opinions and beliefs must be protected – even if characterized as “extreme” – and states should seek to address violent acts of extremism that threaten peace and security. The United States does not view this resolution as altering that emphasis. Rather, the text of the resolution, in repeatedly discussing “extremism” in the context of armed conflict and violence, continues to distinguish between “extremism” and “violent extremism.”
It was important to us that this resolution reaffirm the vital role of women’s leadership in prevention and resolution of conflict and their contribution to prevent the spread of intolerance and incitement to hatred.
We also ensured this resolution emphasized combatting extremism must be done, “in a manner consistent with applicable international law.” States must respect and vigorously protect international law and human rights, including the freedoms of expression and religion, even as they promote tolerance and address ideologies that are indeed abhorrent.
Stifling human rights is counterproductive to the vision of peace and security that we, as members of the Security Council, seek to advance. To unduly limit the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms under a pretext of combatting extremism undermines these universal rights and freedoms.
The United States stands with likeminded members of this Council in committing to ensure this resolution will not be misused to justify repression of human rights defenders, women and girls, LGBTQI+ persons, or any violations or abuses of human rights – and we welcome the attention of civil society to ensure, as this Council has upheld previously, that “extremism,” when not linked to violence, must never be accepted as a justification to curtail human rights or fundamental freedoms. Indeed, nothing in this resolution is intended to construe peaceful opposition to government policy, advocacy for addressing climate change, or the exposure of corruption as “extremism.”
As always, the United States expects the Security Council will work assiduously to ensure acts threatening peace and security are addressed in a manner that upholds human rights and fundamental freedoms. Only through respecting fundamental human rights can we truly promote tolerance – the shared objective of this resolution.
I thank you.