Feb. 15, 2021

Secretary of State Blinken Video Remarks on the Declaration Against the Use of Arbitrary Detention

Secretary of State Blinken Video Remarks on the Declaration Against the Use of Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations
02/15/2021 01:48 PM EST

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

I’m honored to participate in the launch of this initiative, and I’m grateful to Canada for their leadership.

Arbitrary detention in state-to-state relations is a serious problem. Put simply, this is when someone traveling or living abroad – for example, a businessperson, a tourist, or someone visiting family – is detained by the government and falsely charged or sentenced because of the country on their passport. Then they’re used to gain leverage in state-to-state relations. They become a bargaining chip – a human pawn.

It’s completely unacceptable. And it’s already prohibited under international human rights conventions. But some countries still do it, and we as a global community have to stand against it.

This kind of arbitrary detention goes against the human rights of the people being held. It brings anguish to their families. And it’s a threat to anyone who travels, works, or lives abroad.

It’s time to send a clear message to every government that arbitrarily detains foreign nationals and tries to use them as leverage: this will not be tolerated by the international community.

The fact that so many countries are endorsing this declaration is a sign of its strength. Now let’s keep the momentum going. I urge more countries to join us in making it clear that arbitrary detention has absolutely no place in state-to-state relations. Human beings are not bargaining chips. This is a matter of human rights and the rule of law. We‘ll stand up for both – together.

Thank you.