Explanation of Vote on L.53 - Inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in the Third Committee of the Sixty-fourth Session of the UNGA

Laurie Shestack Phipps
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 19, 2009


The United State finds much in this resolution with which we can agree.  We share the deep repugnance felt by other members of the Third Committee at any attempt to glorify or otherwise promote Nazi ideology.  We condemn without reservation any manifestation of religious intolerance or hatred.

We are concerned, however, that the resolution does not distinguish between actions and statements that, while offensive, should be protected by freedom of expression, and criminal actions motivated by bias that should always be prohibited.  The United States does not consider criminalizing expression to be an appropriate or effective means of eliminating racism and related intolerance.

In a free society hateful ideas will fail on account of their own intrinsic lack of merit.   The best antidote to intolerance is not banning and prohibiting offensive speech but rather a combination of robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive government outreach to minority religious groups, and the vigorous defense of both freedom of religion and expression. 

The United States regrets that we were unable to improve the text of this year’s resolution to make it compatible with our core Constitutional values.  We cannot vote for it as drafted.


PRN: 2009/279