Agenda Item 67: "Global Efforts for the total elimination of Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance ...and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Program of Action," in the 3rd Committee of the 64th Session of the UNGA

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 2, 2009



The United States is firmly committed to the elimination of all forms of racism and discrimination worldwide. Indeed, the quest for respect and equality--the story of race--is deeply embedded in our national fabric.

Americans locate strength in diversity.  White, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled, and not disabled – together we are far greater than the sum of our parts.

Americans also recognize the damage inflicted by persistent intolerance.  Through the original sin of slavery, we learned the horrible price of bigotry.  Yet because of the sacrifice and dedication of brave leaders and mass movements, we also saw the power of truly striving to overcome.

Recognizing there is much more work to do, my government continues to pay close attention to issues of race, ethnicity and national origin.  Just last week, President Obama signed legislation on hate crimes, strengthening the ability of our Justice Department and state and local law enforcement officials to deter and prosecute acts of violence motivated by anger against another’s race, ethnicity, gender, or faith.

Just as we believe embracing diversity is essential to the strength of the United States, we also believe it is critical to building a more peaceful and prosperous world.  We are therefore dedicated to working with other nations to address discrimination and negative stereotyping whenever and wherever they occur. In this work, we consider the United Nations a vital partner.

During the June 2009 Human Rights Council session, the United States hosted a side event in which government and civil society representatives explored pitfalls and progress in the fight against racism.  And earlier this year, we sent a distinguished delegation to attend negotiations on the draft outcome document for the Durban Review Conference.  Our delegates met with over 30 delegations, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, and other interested parties.  In addition, the State Department consulted with many capitals on our effort.

We are most grateful to the numerous country delegations and senior United Nations officials who worked to improve the review conference outcome document and re-focus the Durban Review Conference on the global fight to eliminate racism and racial discrimination.  We regret that we were not able to achieve sufficient changes in the document to be able to participate.

Mr. Chairman, we look forward to working in all UN fora and with all nations to combat bigotry and end discrimination around the globe.  Together, we can and must fight for human rights everywhere, and work toward a more perfect world.

Thank you.


PRN: 2009/257