Interpretative Statement on the OSCE Conference on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination

As delivered by Chargé d’Affaires Gary Robbins
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
April 25, 2013

Mr. Chairman, I would like to express United States Government’s appreciation for your patient efforts to facilitate a compromise enabling participating States to reach a consensus on the agenda for a high-level OSCE Conference on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination.  We also extend our thanks to the Government of Albania for its generous offer to host this important event.

As we have underscored on numerous occasions, the United States believes that it is essential that participating States intensify efforts to strengthen the OSCE’s capacity to combat intolerance and discrimination in all of its ugly forms and to implement more effectively the commitments we have undertaken.  We believe that the upcoming conference can provide impetus and inspiration for our work in this area.

I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify the United States Government’s position on  the title of Panel One of the Conference: “Combating intolerance and discrimination against any person, including racism, xenophobia and aggressive nationalism, in accordance with the existing OSCE commitments.”

Combating intolerance and discrimination in any form against any person is in complete accordance with existing OSCE commitments.  Guiding Principle VII of the Helsinki Final Act states that: “The participating States will promote and encourage the effective exercise of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and other rights and freedoms all of which derive from the inherent dignity of the human person and are essential for his free and full development.”

Combating intolerance and discrimination is critical to the protection of the human rights, fundamental freedoms and inherent dignity of all.   We regret that some participating States construe the body of OSCE commitments narrowly, asserting that the acquis addresses only certain forms of intolerance and discrimination and that, in effect, only certain categories of human beings are to be treated with dignity and only certain categories of human beings have rights that  are to be protected.  We utterly reject this narrow interpretation.

I would like to request that this interpretative statement be attached to the journal of the day.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.