U.S. Vows to Change U.N. Resolution
BY Julie Bolcer
December 10 2010 5:05 PM ET
On Human Rights Day, Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced that the U.S. would “fight to restore” the LGBT protections stricken from a draft General Assembly resolution on summary, extrajudicial, or arbitrary executions last month.
Rice spoke Friday afternoon at a High-level Panel on “Ending Violence and Criminal Sanctions on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” which also included opening remarks by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and speeches from activists on the frontlines of the battle for LGBT human rights.
“Here at the United Nations, like many of you, I was incensed by the recent vote in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which eliminated any mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals from a resolution condemning extrajudicial killing of vulnerable people around the world,” said Rice.
Last month, the Third Committee on social, humanitarian and cultural issues voted 79-70, with 17 abstentions and 26 absences, for an amendment to remove the reference to “sexual orientation” from the draft resolution on discriminatory executions. Although the resolution has mentioned sexual orientation for the past 10 years, this year Benin, on behalf of the African Group in the General Assembly, introduced an amendment arguing that the inclusion lacked legal justification. The amended resolution passed by a vote of 165-0, with 10 abstentions including the United States.
On Friday, Ambassador Rice vowed to work to restore the language regarding sexual orientation when the full General Assembly votes on the resolution December 20.
“We’re going to fight to restore the reference to sexual orientation,” she said. “We’re going to stand firm on this basic principle, and we intend to win.”
Human rights activists and organizations including the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, one of few LGBT NGOs to hold consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, decried the draft resolution when it passed last month. IGLHRC said it could provide a legal loophole for countries such as Uganda, where a bill that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality is pending in parliament.