Explanation of Position on a Resolution on Women and Girls and the Response to COVID-19 (Spain)

Jason Mack
Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 13, 2020


The United States joins consensus on this resolution. We note that we oppose the proliferation of multiple COVID-related resolutions. The COVID omnibus resolution makes multiple resolutions unnecessary, and we wish to discourage this trend.

We thank Spain for including strong human rights language in their text, which is missing in the other resolution on this topic before us today. It includes wording on Security Council Resolution 1325 and the four pillars of the women, peace, and security agenda. It emphasizes combatting various forms of violence against women, including domestic violence; child, early, and forced marriage; and female genital mutilation. This is especially important in a COVID text given the increased instances of violence and domestic violence women and girls experience as a result of quarantining. And it contains language on countering disinformation including the importance of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression.

We regret that the U.S. amendments did not pass, and accordingly health related wording that is problematic for us remains in the resolution. The United States therefore disassociates from operative paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 8. “Sexual and reproductive health” and “health-care services” are controversial terms which detracts 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 their laws and policies, without external pressure or interference. Further, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme 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 reference to wording on “the outcome documents of their review conferences,” and similar wording in OP 1, we would have preferred that clause end with “as adopted by the General Assembly.” This addition would make clear that documents adopted by member state consensus carry more weight than documents which do not enjoy such consensus, and would fully communicate the need for such consensus on any United Nations policy decisions.

The United States has notified the United Nations of our intention to withdraw from the World Health Organization, and we dissociate from PP 6. It is inappropriate to single out specific partners in the global response to address COVID-19.

With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we addressed our concerns in a statement delivered earlier this afternoon.