Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 14, 2023
Thank you, Madam President. I want to thank today’s briefers. His Eminence, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, His Excellency, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, and Ms. Latifa Ibn Ziaten. I would also like to thank you, Madam Minister, today, Madam President, for convening this meeting to further the protection of universal human rights and religious co-existence and tolerance, and to counter religious intolerance and hatred.
It is important for this Council to have conversations on human rights protections in the maintenance of international peace and security. It is necessary for us to speak with one another in open dialogue to promote tolerance, inclusion, and understanding. And upholding universal human rights must be the very foundation of our efforts.
Our work is hard. We live in a multicultural and pluralistic world. We have to work together to advance our shared humanity and the human dignity of all people. We have seen time and again that disregard for these common principles and a breakdown in tolerance give way to violence. Our challenge here in this august Chamber, to prevent violence and foster peace, must be done in a way that encourages dialogue and upholds human rights for all.
But we cannot allow abuse of human rights or repression of political opposition under a pretext of countering terrorism or preventing violent extremism. Peace and security are strengthened by upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms, not by suppressing these rights and freedoms. As the Security Council has long reaffirmed, every individual has the right to have a religion, change one’s religion, or have no religion at all, and to manifest one’s religion or belief publicly or privately.
The Security Council has been equally clear that women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms, including taking part in the conduct of public affairs, must be protected. It is well established that women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in peace processes as leaders, negotiators, peacekeepers, and peacebuilders increases the likelihood of a just and lasting peace.
Like members of other marginalized communities, LGBTQI+ persons also face discrimination, threats to their lives and livelihoods, and violence for just being themselves. Persistent criminalization of LGBTQI+ status or conduct and their enduring violence and discrimination further undermine the ability of LGBTQI+ persons to participate fully and safely as their authentic selves in societies in every region of the world.
If we want to live in a more peaceful world, we must stand up for and protect the essential role of civil society, including activists, journalists, and opposition politicians who are critical of our governments and do not always agree with our policies. Peaceful political dissent is equally vital to averting conflict, and states must not misconstrue citizens exercising their freedom of expression or engaging in civic discourse to justify repression or state-sanctioned acts of violence.
As President Biden said on the 2022 UN Day of Human Fraternity, human fraternity can build “a better world that upholds universal human rights, lifts every human being, and advances peace and security for all.” Under no circumstances, will the United States support misinterpretations of this concept to justify repression of human rights defenders, women and girls, LGBTQI+ persons, or any violations or abuses of human rights.
And I thank you.