Remarks at a UN General Assembly Meeting on a Call to Action for Human Rights

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Representative
United States Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 24, 2021


Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for highlighting the realization of human rights as the highest calling of the UN. Sustained leadership is vital to meeting our highest aspiration.

As Eleanor Roosevelt proclaimed in 1948, “The future must see the broadening of human rights throughout the world.” Your statements today remained true to these words: society is stronger and more resilient when women and men can play a meaningful role in political, economic and social life, contributing to policy-making that affects their lives, including by accessing information, engaging in dialogue, expressing dissent, and joining together to express their views. This includes defending the rights to freedom of speech, thought, conscience, religion, and belief, as well as promoting accountability for human rights violations and abuses, wherever they occur globally, and highlighting deteriorating human rights conditions in any nation where they occur. Furthermore, every part of the UN system must play its full part in the advancement of human rights. The work is not the narrow province of any one organ or office. Moreover, UN Resident Coordinators and Country Teams must be empowered – and held accountable – in fulfilling their responsibilities to advance and protect the human rights of all individuals.

Civil society plays an important role in addressing and responding to many of the global challenges we face today, including human rights abuses. It is essential that its voice be incorporated into UN planning and in high-level events on the challenges facing the global community.

We seek greater transparency, predictability, and inclusivity for NGOs and civil society. And we welcome your efforts to ensure broad and meaningful civil society representation at the UN and in UN processes.

Engagement with civil society is an essential element to any successful effort to fulfill the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. We therefore urge you to use your leadership and good offices to ensure the UN is welcoming civil society’s important contributions to its work, rather than shutting its doors to them.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.