Explanation of Position by John F. Sammis, Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, on Third Committee resolution A/C.3/66/L.65 "United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training"

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 17, 2011




AS DELIVERED

The United States had two primary goals entering the negotiations on a Human Rights Education and Training declaration. We wanted to underline the critical relationship that human rights education and training plays in promoting all human rights and fundamental freedoms and we wanted to strengthen support and respect for human rights educators and trainers of all kinds at all levels. We are enormously pleased that this text accomplishes exactly that, and we are proud to have taken an active role in ensuring that outcome and to have joined the Working Group consensus in support of the draft declaration.

There are differing opinions among delegations over the issue of whether there exists under international law a right to human rights education and training. We are among a number of states that do not recognize such a right and we note that in the United States we have limited authority over education at a national level, and thus cannot accept additional obligations that a right to HRET would imply. This in no way, however, lessens our commitment to promoting an individual's ability to know or seek out information regarding his or her human rights, and we believe our support for the draft declaration reflects this commitment. While the United States strongly believes that education, particularly human rights education, can contribute to combating discrimination and intolerance, in joining consensus on this resolution we would not suggest that human rights education be used in a manner that promotes suppression of the right of freedom of expression in any way.

Furthermore, we understand that other states believe there is a right to HRET. We of course support any state's commitments to strengthen the promotion and protection of all human rights. With respect to the reference in the Declaration to a right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, we see this as no more extensive than the right to seek, receive and impart information under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also note that because the United States is not a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, we are not reaffirming obligations under it.

We believe the draft declaration will serve as a valuable building block in the foundation of human rights instruments that promote knowledge of and respect for all human rights.

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PRN: 2011/243