Ambassador Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 9, 2020
Thank you. Enhancing women’s participation in power structures across economic, political, and social spheres, and from the local to the international level, is critical to advancing individual human dignity. When governments protect and promote the human rights of women and girls, societies prosper. The United States is proud to be leader in the promotion and protection of human rights for women and girls, at home and abroad.
We are working to ensure that women worldwide enjoy the opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their communities and nations, just as women do in our country.
Today we adopt a declaration that we hope will advance this important work and our global cooperation on these goals. The declaration is not perfect but largely reiterates our priorities and commitments to continued progress in enhancing women’s rights around the world.
The United States is committed to ensuring women all around the world can hold and lead from both unofficial and official seats of power in their communities and on the international stage. That is why in October 2000, we strongly supported the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which recognized women’s essential contributions to preventing and resolving conflict. This year, as we observe the resolution’s 20th anniversary, the United States remains committed to expanding women’s role in establishing and maintaining global peace, security, and prosperity. We are disappointed, however, that certain Member States precluded us from addressing this important anniversary in the present political declaration.
A range of stakeholders beyond governments play a critical role in realizing the human rights of women and girls, including faith-based and civil society organizations, the family, the private sector, academia, labor and trade unions, and media. Civil society played a critical role in Beijing 25 years ago, and they continue to be an important partner for all of us. To this end, we were disappointed that some of the references to these important stakeholders were removed from the final text of the declaration. We were pleased, however, that controversial terms and concepts were rightfully omitted from the declaration, permitting member states to join consensus.
The United States understands that this resolution does not change the current state of conventional or customary international law, and we do not read it to imply that states must join or implement obligations under international instruments to which they are not a party. The United States understands that any reaffirmation of prior documents applies only to those states that affirmed them initially, and, in the case of international treaties or conventions, to those States who are party.
The United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement to the United Nations on November 4, 2019. The withdrawal will take effect one year from the delivery of the notification. Therefore, references to climate change are without prejudice to U.S. positions.
As the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provides, each State Party undertakes to take the steps set out in Article 2(1) “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights.” We interpret references to the obligations of States as applicable only to the extent they have assumed such obligations, and with respect to States Parties to the Covenant, in light of its Article 2(1). The United States is not a Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the rights contained therein are not justiciable as such in U.S. Courts.
The United States understands the phrase “equal pay for work of equal value” to promote pay equity between men and women and accepts the formulation on that basis. The United States implements it by observing the principle of “equal pay for equal work.”
The U.S. understands the phrase “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education” as an aspirational goal and ensuring that girls and women have equal opportunity to access inclusive and equitable quality education.
The United States is deeply concerned about gender stereotypes and societal norms that limit women’s full and meaningful participation in the public sphere. We understand any commitments to address these issues to be undertaken consistent with our obligations regarding freedom of opinion and expression and religious freedom.
A range of stakeholders play a critical role in realizing the human rights of women and girls, including faith-based and civil society organizations, the family, the private sector, academia, unions, and media. Civil society including those who fight for human rights continue to be important partners for all of us. To this end, we will continue to press for recognition in future declarations and UN documents.
In closing, as we mark 25 years since the Beijing Declaration it is clear we still have work to do as an international community to ensure that every woman and girl has the opportunities to succeed and contribute to her community. The United States will continue to lead, both through the empowerment of the fundamental and unalienable rights of its own citizens, as well as through partnerships with those countries who recognize the wisdom and value of empowering all of their citizens to live their best and fullest lives.