Statement by John F. Sammis, Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
New York, NY
November 1, 2010




AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The United States would also like to thank Mr. Muigai for his presentation this morning, and express appreciation for the constructive spirit of the Special Rapporteur’s report.

We agree with the Special Raporteur’s view that domestic blasphemy laws can be counterproductive and welcome his recommendation that countries move away from the notion of defamation of religions.

The United States believes it is important for governments to have effective legal regimes in place to deal with acts of discrimination. We also strongly believe that protecting freedom of expression promotes mutual respect and pluralism, and is essential to human dignity, robust civil society, and political and economic development.

We are strongly convinced that hateful or discriminatory speech withers in the face of public scrutiny, and that, by contrast, government censorship, or prohibitions of speech based on stereotypical and intolerant content, will only force hateful ideology to find new and alternative fora in which to manifest itself.

The United States encourages civil society actors, including religious groups, to participate in interfaith dialogue and service projects, education efforts, and alliance-building with domestic and international religious groups and influential leaders to foster understanding within and among communities and to promote conflict prevention. We thank the Special Rapporteur for highlighting preventative measures such as education, awareness-raising and interreligious and intercultural dialogue, which aim at fostering a peaceful society.

I would like to conclude with a question for the Special Rapporteur: What particular outreach measures and education tools would he recommend to promote meaningful participation of all in public life so as to foster social integration?

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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PRN: 2010/254