OAS Marks Human Rights Day

Remarks by
Ambassador Francisco O. Mora
December 5, 2023

Chair, colleagues, and distinguished guests,

As we gather today in the Hall of the Americas, we do so with a deep sense of responsibility and commitment to upholding the principles that have shaped our region’s collective journey towards justice, dignity, and freedom.

Seventy-five years ago, in the aftermath of World War II, the world came together to declare that every person is created equal, endowed with inherent dignity and inalienable rights. This idea, at the very core of my own nation’s founding, echoes in the hearts of millions around the globe who march, fight, and sacrifice for innate liberties we all deserve as humans. From Burma to Venezuela, Iran to Cuba, Ukraine to Nicaragua, courageous individuals are standing up against abuses of power, threats to their lives, and violations of their individual freedoms.

The United States stands unequivocally with these brave women and men, reiterating our commitment as a recently re-joined member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to amplify the voices of those too often targeted by violence or denied equal protection under the law. We are resolute in supporting religious, racial, and ethnic minorities; women and girls; LGBTQI+ communities; persons with disabilities; and pro-democracy activists and defenders.

Chair, in our pursuit of a world where might does not make right, we hosted two global Summits for Democracy, reinforcing our commitment to human rights, democracy, and countering corruption. President Biden’s Initiative for Democratic Renewal also underscores our dedication to free and fair elections, independent media, and democratic reform – all efforts in line with the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

As we seek to lead by the power of our example, both domestically and globally, we recognize the importance of multilateralism in deepening respect for human rights. President Biden’s foreign policy vision acknowledges that advocating for democracy and human rights abroad requires demonstrating commitment to these same principles at home. We strive to live up to our highest ideals, acknowledging our imperfections and striving for accountability.

To this point, Chair, the United States deeply values the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, recognizing its role in holding all OAS member states, including my own, accountable for our human rights commitments.

Our renewed engagement with the UN Human Rights Council aligns with President Biden’s vision for global, democratic renewal, rooted in a recommitment to the Universal and American Declarations on their 75th anniversaries.

We actively support civil society at the OAS and the UN, and we are proud, active members of the OAS core groups on LGBTI, gender, and disability rights, as well as the OAS Group of Friends for Freedom of Expression and Journalism.

We champion these initiatives like the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls, recognizing diversity, equity, and inclusion as pillars of our bilateral engagements.

In addressing racial equity and justice globally, the United States has also established bilateral arrangements with Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay, serving as models for our efforts here at the OAS and throughout the Hemisphere.

Now, Mr. Chair, as we commemorate Human Rights Day and the milestones of the Declarations, we reflect too on the role of the Americas in their creation.

Eleanor Roosevelt, a tireless advocate for human rights, played as we all know, a pivotal role in shaping the Universal Declaration. Her leadership, consensus-building, and unwavering commitment to human rights principles laid the foundation for the document that defines our shared values.

As we acknowledge the contributions of the past, colleagues, we must also look to the future. The power of young voices in social movements like Black Lives Matter emphasizes the enduring relevance of human rights. This is why we have worked to create a new global Youth Democracy Network in collaboration with the Community of Democracies, fostering intergenerational ties and empowering the new generation of leaders to champion democracy and human rights.

In closing, Mr. Chair, I would like to emphasize that there can be no moral equivalence between actions subject to robust accountability mechanisms and those of authoritarian regimes that violate human rights with impunity. Oppressive actors in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua must be held to account for their actions.

Lastly, with thanks to our colleagues from Canada, I hope you all will be able to join us for a musical performance following this meeting, featuring talented artists from across the Americas, demonstrating the power of music as a mechanism for advancing social change. Together, let us continue our collective journey towards a world where dignity, freedom, and justice prevail for all.

Thank you.