Remarks by Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights Anatoly Viktorov in connection with the US delegation’s oral amendments to the draft resolution of the 72nd UN General Assembly’s Third Committee on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (A/C.3/72/L.56/Rev. 1), New York City, November 16, 2017
The Russian delegation cannot agree with the inclusion of amendments, prepared by the United States, in the draft L.56/Rev. 1 resolution. The initiative that was submitted to the Third Committee for consideration is the result of intensive talks, reached during several rounds of open non-official consultations and bilateral meetings.
Unfortunately, representatives of the US delegation were not present at these talks; otherwise they would see that the document was drafted with the broad involvement of all the concerned states.
In our opinion, the US delegation’s proposals are openly provocative because they aim to drastically alter the essence and nature of this initiative, which is traditionally supported by an impressive majority of UN member-states. This is how one should view amendments on omitting references to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and on completely deleting any mention of the relevant articles of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from the document, and there can be no other interpretation of these proposals.
Over the past few years, some delegations have tried to convince us that it is impossible to combat racism and the spread of racist ideas with bans and criminal prosecution. They are telling us that a healthy and democratic society will independently reject the ideas of neo-Nazism and racism as alien and incompatible with democratic principles.
We consider this position to be erroneous and contradicting the integral and comprehensive approach towards human rights. We are confident that it is necessary to clearly distinguish between unacceptable manifestations and what is called “freedom of speech.” It is impossible to justify the spread of racist and extremist ideas with references to freedom of expression, as this runs counter to countries’ obligations under the main international human rights documents, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In particular, the Convention’s Article 4 requires its signatory states to prosecute these manifestations of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia under the established procedure.
In this connection, we urge delegations opposing racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to vote against the US amendments. One should not indulge in complacency and hope that racist ideas will disappear by themselves, as being “alien to mature democratic societies.”