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Thank you to Community of Democracies presidency Romania and the Permanent Secretariat for organizing this meeting and for including this important and timely topic on the agenda.  Parliamentary Secretary Oliphant, thank you for those remarks and for highlighting the seriousness of this issue. Finally, thank you to Canada for your leadership in uniting so many countries to stand together against the practice of arbitrary detention for political leverage.

This is a grave issue we are discussing. As Secretary Blinken said at the launch of the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations, human beings are not bargaining chips. The practice undermines respect for human rights. It brings anguish to families. It breaks trust. Using arbitrary detentions for political leverage is an unacceptable practice we must not tolerate.

The United States has built a hostage recovery enterprise to counter issues like this. For years we have condemned some countries’ use of people as political leverage. But unified with other partners we are all much stronger.

I echo Canada’s call to endorse the Declaration. We must stop trying to counter this practice on a case by case basis, and instead stand together in solidarity to send the message that we will not allow our citizens to be used as political pawns.

We are stronger together. Through partnership and cooperation, we can put an end to this practice. We look forward to the next steps, to collaborating with partners, and to taking action together.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future