Statement on Agenda Item 68 (b) ‘Follow-up to the Durban Declaration’

Jason Mack
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 19, 2019


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The United States remains firmly committed to combatting racism and racial discrimination. Indeed, we recognize a special obligation to do so given historical injustices perpetrated during past eras of colonial expansion into indigenous communities, slavery, and Jim Crow. We pledge to continue our work with civil society, international mechanisms, and all nations of goodwill to combat this evil.

The United States implements the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to which we are a State Party, because we believe it provides comprehensive protections in this area and constitutes the most relevant international framework to address all forms of racial discrimination. We continue to raise the profile of and participate in activities in support of the International 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 discrimination, hostility, or incitement to violence. 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, both on- and off-line.

Like last year, 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. We believe this resolution serves as a vehicle to prolong the divisions caused by the Durban conference and its follow-up rather than providing 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 call for States Parties, as a matter of urgency, to consider withdrawing reservations to article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or its suggestion that such reservations may be 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 welcoming a call for “former colonial Powers” to provide reparations “consistent with” 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 again vote against this resolution, and we urge other delegations to do the same.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.