U.S. Decision to Engage in Durban Review Applauded by Human Rights Leaders

Washington, D.C.

February 16, 2009


Megan Rabbitt

The following statement was issued by Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation; Kenneth Roth, President of Human Rights Watch; William H. Luers, President of the United Nations Association of the USA; Karin Ryan, Director, Human Rights Program of The Carter Center; and Mort Halperin, former Director of Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State on the U.S. decision to send a negotiating team to Geneva to participate in the Durban Review Conference:

“We applaud the United States decision to engage in this week’s preparatory meetings of the Durban Review Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which was announced late last week.  The 2009 Review Conference requires leadership to ensure an outcome that helps achieve its valuable purpose of ending racism and furthering human rights.  Some countries involved in the negotiations are trying to divert the Conference from its original goals, yet the Obama Administration has an opportunity to continue progress toward addressing these important issues.  We hope the U.S. decision to participate in the negotiations is part of a broader strategy of U.S. engagement on the international human rights agenda, including a decision to run for a seat on the Human Rights Council.  The U.S. cannot provide the leadership necessary to promote and protect human rights by sitting on the sidelines.  After several years of U.S. disengagement on international human rights issues, this decision is a positive indication of the Obama Administration’s commitment to cooperation and dialogue with the rest of the world.”


About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas, and capital to help the United Nations solve global problems.  We build partnerships, grow constituencies, mobilize resources and advocate policy changes to support the UN’s work for individual and global progress.  The UN Foundation’s work – focused on select global problems – is decreasing child mortality, improving disaster relief, protecting diverse cultures and environments, creating a clean energy future, empowering women and girls, and improving U.S.-UN relations.  For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.

About the United Nations Association of the USA
The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is dedicated to educating, inspiring and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations.  UNA-USA programs and initiatives aim to strengthen the UN system, promote constructive United States leadership in the UN, and achieve the goals of the UN Charter.

About Human Right Watch
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, it gives voice to the oppressed and holds oppressors accountable for their crimes. Its rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

About The Carter Center
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Press Contacts:

In Washington, D.C.:
Katherine Miller
United Nations Foundation
(o) 202.887.9040
(e) kmiller at unfoundation.org

In New York:
Robert Skinner
UN Foundation
(o) 212.697.0520
(e) rskinner at unfoundation.org