Explanation of Position at a Meeting of the UN Women Executive Board

Stefanie Amadeo
U.S. Deputy Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
August 30, 2017


Thank you, Madam President. The United States thanks the facilitators, all members of the Executive Board, and our other partners for the work to come to consensus on the decisions before us today.

I want to start by recognizing UN Women and all of the work that they do for communities around the globe, from improving maternal health to eradicating poverty and empowering girls. The Executive Director and her staff are to be commended for their work every day on behalf of women and girls worldwide.

The United States believes that women should have equal access to health care. We remain committed to the principles laid out in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the ICPD Program of Action. As has been made clear over many years, there was international consensus that these documents do not create new international rights, including any “right” to abortion. The United States fully supports the principle of voluntary choice regarding maternal and child health and family planning. We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance. Let me reiterate that the United States is the world’s largest donor of bilateral reproductive health and family planning assistance.

We underscore our sincere hope for continued collaboration with UN Women and Member States to ensure that UN Women is as effective as possible in addressing women’s needs and note that this should extend to negotiations’ processes and that we all keep the importance of addressing these needs foremost in mind rather than create distractions with unnecessary language.

The United States joins consensus on this and other decisions with the understanding that their provisions do not imply that states must become parties to instruments to which they are not a party, or implement obligations under such instruments without first becoming a party. Moreover, the United States understands that the decision’s reference to UN standards does not imply that States have obligations under any such standards. The Executive Board’s decisions do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law.

The United States recognizes the 2030 Agenda as a global framework for sustainable development, but as our policies are currently under review, we cannot affirm all aspects of the 2030 Agenda. We emphasize that countries must work towards implementation in accordance with their own national circumstances and priorities. We also note that references to “policy space” in these decisions do not affect potential constraints under international law or agreements that apply to any such “policy space.”

The United States is deeply concerned with UN Women’s ongoing efforts to shift activities funded through voluntary contributions into the UN regular budget. UN Women must focus on developing a robust, competitive, and cost-effective approach to maintaining and increasing voluntary contributions from member states.

We ask that this statement be made a part of the official record of these proceedings.

Thank you.