Explanation of Position- Follow-up on the situation in the autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)

As a co-sponsor, the United States expresses our strong support for this important resolution and the commitment of UNESCO and its member states to advance respect for freedom of expression, support equal access to education for all, and protect and preserve cultural heritage.

Respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights and fundamental freedoms forms the foundation of this resolution and substantiates the need for continued international attention.

Furthermore, we support UN General Assembly resolution 68/262, which calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized
agencies – like UNESCO – not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Crimea on the basis of the illegal referenda held in those locations in March 2014.

Now with respect to the comments by the Russian delegation, the United States believes that we cannot ignore the grave problems in Crimea following Russia’s attempted annexation, and UNESCO must contribute to improving the situation in Crimea and ensuring monitoring of these concerns including specifically: limitations on media and freedom of expression; an increasingly repressive environment for members of ethnic and religious minorities, who have suffered raids on homes, schools, and places of worship; and decreasing educational opportunities for children to study in their native languages, including Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar.

We urge other delegations to come to consensus, and if necessary, to vote yes, to adopt this important resolution.