Explanation of Vote on the Culture of Peace Item

Julie Lelek
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
December, 9, 2021


The United States strongly believes in encouraging a culture of peace through the promotion of justice, democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms, as well as by rejecting violence and addressing the root causes of conflict. In recognition of these values, we support this resolution on the “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.” We thank Bangladesh for their leadership on this text and for their work to ensure that this text reflects the views of all UN delegations.

In addition, the United States firmly supports efforts to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue and cooperation. We thank the Philippines and Pakistan for their initiative in tabling the resolution on an important topic of key interest to all UN delegations.

We would like to take this opportunity to clarify our position on the following issues.

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. In that context, we continue to have strong reservations about OP15, where the text suggests that protections for freedoms of expression and 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. Freedom of religion plays an important societal role and is crucial to the creation of tolerant and respectful societies. These two freedoms are mutually reinforcing, and both must be respected in order to achieve meaningful interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

Rather than seek restrictions to expression to deal with intolerance or hate speech, 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. We remind Member States that, as recognized in the Istanbul Process, the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national, and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred and violence.

Regarding the invocation of “moderation” in OP14, 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 respect to PP24 and OP15, the United States notes its reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Nevertheless, we reiterate our appreciation for the efforts of the Philippines and Pakistan in tabling this resolution on interreligious dialogue. The United States remains committed to working with Member States to promote tolerance and understanding. Thank you.