Explanation of Vote on a Third Committee Resolution on Elimination of Racism

Mordica Simpson
ECOSOC Advisor
United States
New York City
November 16, 2018


The United States is firmly committed to combatting racism and racial discrimination. For the United States, this commitment is rooted in the saddest chapters of our history and reflected in the most cherished values of our nation. Despite our progress, fighting racism remains an ongoing challenge. We work with civil society, international mechanisms, and all nations of goodwill to combat racism and racial discrimination. It is an integral aspect of our aspiration to “build a more perfect union.”

Moreover, we continue to implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which we believe provides comprehensive protections in this area and constitutes the most relevant international framework to address all forms of racial discrimination. The United States also seeks to raise the profile of and participate in activities in support of the Decade for People of African Descent.

In addition, we remain deeply concerned about speech that advocates national, racial, or religious hatred, particularly when it constitutes incitement to violence, discrimination, or hostility. From our own experience and history, the United States remains convinced that the best antidote to offensive speech is not bans and punishments but a combination of three key elements: robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive government outreach to racial and religious communities, and the vigorous protection of freedom of expression.

We regret that we cannot support this resolution on such an important topic, because this text is not genuinely focused on combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Among our concerns about the resolution are its endorsements of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, DDPA, as well as the outcome of the Durban review conference, and its endorsement of overbroad restrictions on freedom of speech and expression. We reject any efforts to advance the “full implementation” of the DDPA. This resolution serves to prolong the divisions caused by the Durban conference and its follow-up rather than provide a comprehensive and inclusive way forward for the international community to combat the scourge of racism and racial discrimination.

In addition, the United States cannot accept the resolution’s legally incorrect implication that any and all reservations to article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination are per se contrary to the object and purpose of the treaty; we note that this resolution has no effect as a matter of international law. We also categorically reject the resolution’s call for “former colonial Powers” to provide reparations in accordance with paragraphs 157 and 158 of the DDPA.

Finally, we underscore our concerns about the additional costs this resolution will impose on the UN’s regular budget through the request for reactivation of the Independent Eminent Experts’ activities. In view of the significant constraints on the UN’s regular budget, and the limited ability of Member States to provide increasing amounts of resources, we stress the need for this body to consider carefully the resource implications of such requests before making them.

For these reasons, we must vote against this resolution, and we urge other delegations to do the same.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.