Explanation of Position on a Resolution on Indigenous Peoples

Mordica Simpson
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 19, 2020


The United States thanks Ecuador and Bolivia for their resolution entitled “Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” We are pleased to join consensus on the resolution.

The United States commends Ecuador and Bolivia for their leadership in strengthening the text this year to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on indigenous peoples, in particular those belonging to other minority groups, as well as the importance of integrating indigenous languages into global sustainable development frameworks and mechanisms and in public policies across social, economic, and political spheres. We also appreciate support for the new emphasis in operative paragraph 31 on eliminating forced labor. Because of discrimination, marginalization, poverty, and other factors, indigenous persons throughout the world continue to be subjected to forced labor.

The United States reaffirms its support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As explained in our 2010 Statement of Support, the Declaration is an aspirational document of moral and political force and is not legally binding or a statement of current international law. The Declaration expresses aspirations that the United States seeks to achieve within the structure of the U.S. Constitution, laws, and international obligations, while also seeking, where appropriate, to improve our laws and policies.

The United States supports the elimination of ambiguity surrounding the use of “health services” in the context of women’s health, because too often the term is used by some UN agencies to promote abortion. We wish to make clear that the United States supports providing holistic health care to indigenous peoples, including in this period of COVID-19 when health needs are considerable.

Concerning OP 14, we note that in the UN, data is disaggregated by sex rather than by gender.

With regard to OP 21, the United States notes that sexual harassment, while condemnable, is not necessarily violent. In U.S. law, the term violence refers to physical force or the threat of physical force.

Finally, with regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration; and the non-consensus based Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women’s 63rd session, we addressed our concerns in a previous statement on Third Committee resolutions that we delivered on November 13.