Response to Russian Federation Statement on International Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
December 12, 2013

Mr. Chairman,

If you will allow me to make three quick points.

First, with respect to the statement of the distinguished representative of the Russian Federation, some issues mentioned relate to serious questions that are of concern not only to people in this room but also to the citizens they represent, including the American people. Our democracy has a long track record of wrestling with tough issues – not always with perfection, and rarely as fast as we might like, but with resolve, credibility, and humanity. It is how we debate, discuss, and deal with our shortcomings, as much as how we demonstrate our strengths that earns the United States admiration and respect and propels our progress toward a more perfect union.

Second, I have noted with interest the Russian Federation’s several recent statements – including by Foreign Minister Lavrov – about the importance of internationally recognized human rights, and the Russian Federation’s concerns that there is so much work to be done. It is good to hear the reaffirmation of these universal obligations of States. And, as we celebrate Human Rights Week, it is a good time to look inward, as well as outward, to identify work remaining to be done.

Third, I pledge to the representatives here of the Russian Federation, and to all of those around this table, that when the United States raises specific cases of concern, we will always do so always motivated by sincere concern and in a genuine spirit. Our goal is to make a difference, not to score a point. And while we understand that statements may at times cause discomfort, that is not our purpose or intention.

Mr. Chairman, the United States reserves the right to return to specific issues raised at a later date, and asks that this be reflected in the journal of the day.