Explanation of Position by Laurie S. Phipps, Advisor, of the Proclamation of 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and the Dignity of Victims Resolution (A/C.3/65/L.59), Third Committee

Laurie Shestack Phipps
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs 
New York, NY
November 11, 2010


The United States is very pleased to join consensus on this resolution.

Respect for the right to truth serves to advance respect for the rule of law, transparency, honesty, accountability, justice and good governance -- all key principles underlying a democratic society. My government also strongly supports these principles in practice through programs which encourage dialogue, truth commissions, and forensic research in the effort to uncover the truth behind gross human rights violations.

One of the core tenets guiding our participation as a member of the UN General Assembly is fidelity to the truth. We see the right to truth as closely linked to the right to seek, receive, and impart information under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We also observe that the right to truth may be characterized differently in certain legal systems, such as our own, as the right to be informed, freedom of information, or the right to know.

With regard to the right to know, the United States continues to acknowledge, as it did at the ICRC Conference on the Missing in February 2003, that a right to know is referred to in Article 32 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva conventions. Although the United States is not a party to that instrument and has no obligations under it vis-a-vis a right to know, the United States supports the principle that families have a right to know of the fate of their missing family member or members. In conclusion, we underscore that the right to truth is inextricably intertwined with the promotion of democratic ideals, human rights, and justice.


PRN: 2010/284