U.S. Executive Officer for the Third Committee
New York, New York
October 20, 2023
Remarks at a Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin
Thank you, Chair. And thank you Madame Special Rapporteur for your condemnation of Hamas, a terrorist group, that bears responsibility for sparking the current war in Gaza by unleashing pure, unadulterated evil.
Like all countries under the UN Charter, Israel has a right to defend itself consistent with the laws of war.
Thank you also Madam Special Rapporteur for persistent efforts to advance human rights over your past two terms. We particularly appreciate your reporting on the abuse and misuse of security measures to target human rights defenders and civil society.
You have warned us, Madame Special Rapporteur, that the term “extremist” is “broad and overly vague and may encroach on human rights in profound and far-reaching ways.” Since then, we have seen a concerning shift in Member State terminology from “violent extremism conducive to terrorism” to the vague term “extremism” without qualifiers.
The United States is deeply concerned this shift will negatively affect the ability of civil society members, especially human rights defenders, to exercise their right to freedom of expression, hinder criticism of a leader’s legitimacy and policies, and embolden authoritarians to refer to any act they disapprove of as “extremist.” We must work together to apply international counterterrorism frameworks with respect for human rights and through a gender-responsive lens.
Additionally, the United States was pleased to grant you and your team unprecedented access to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. As noted in the U.S. response to your end of mission report, we are gratified that we were able to facilitate your technical visit in accordance with the Revised Terms of Reference for Country Visits through openness, transparency, and most importantly, leadership by example and in keeping with our ongoing commitment to uphold human rights.
Madame Special Rapporteur, how can we strengthen human rights protections in international frameworks for preventing and countering violent extremism?
I thank you.