Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 16, 2020
We thank Burkina Faso and the Africa Group for its resolution on intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation.
The United States recognizes Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, commonly referred to as FGM/C, as a harmful, traditional practice that violates the health and human rights of women and girls and hinders development outcomes. Eliminating violence against women and girls, including FGM/C, is critical to achieving their equality and empowerment. We are working towards the global elimination of FGM/C through multiple approaches, including supporting host country legislation against the practice of FGM/C, assisting countries in implementing their laws prohibiting FGM/C, and supporting community-based programming to raise awareness on the harmful effects of FGM/C. We are also pursuing regional, national, and local coordination among international donors, governments, and community leaders. Though much work remains to be done, each year, more communities come together to assess the role of FGM/C in their lives. The result will be healthier, more empowered girls and stronger communities for the future. The United States recognizes the importance of this resolution in global efforts to address this ongoing challenge.
We regret that the U.S. amendment did not pass, and health related wording that is problematic for us remains in the resolution. The United States therefore disassociates from preambular paragraph 9, operative paragraph 1, and operative paragraph 5. “Sexual and reproductive health” and “health-care services” are controversial terms which detract from the resolution’s recommendations to address female genital mutilation. These terms have accumulated connotations that suggest the promotion of abortion or a right to abortion that are unacceptable to our Administration.
The United States is committed to improving women’s health across their lifespan. However, we cannot accept references to “sexual and reproductive health, “sexual and reproductive health-care services,” “safe termination of pregnancy” or any similar language that would promote abortion or suggest inaccurately a right to abortion. As affirmed in the Geneva Consensus Declaration by countries representing every region of the globe, each nation has the sovereign right to implement related programs and activities consistent with its laws and policies, without external pressure or interference. Further, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action and its report, we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, and there is no international right to abortion. We fully support the provision of quality health care to women and girls around the world without promoting abortion.
With regard to this resolution’s references to international law, including international human rights conventions; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and education policy, programs, and materials, we addressed our concerns in a statement delivered on November 13.
The United States will continue to work with our partners to eliminate FGM/C, advance human rights, and promote the highest attainable standards of health for all women and girls.