Explanation of Position on a Third Committee Resolution on Female Genital Mutilation

Courtney Nemroff
Deputy U.S. Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 19, 2018


We thank Burkina Faso, on behalf of the Africa Group, for its resolution on efforts to end female genital mutilation. This is an important resolution for all Member States and we thank Burkina Faso for its leadership.

The United States disassociates from operative paragraph 1 and operative paragraph 5 because of our concern that the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “health-care services” have accumulated connotations that suggest the promotion of abortion or a right to abortion that are unacceptable to our administration.

The United States believes that women should have equal access to reproductive health care. We remain committed to the commitments laid out in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and in 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. We also note that the United States is the largest bilateral donor of reproductive health and family planning assistance.

The United States understands that General Assembly resolutions do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law. We do not read this resolution to imply that states must join or implement obligations under international instruments to which they are not a party, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the United States understands that any reaffirmation of those Conventions applies only to those States that are party to them.

We note that in the United States, decisions regarding curricular and other education policies, materials, and programs are made as appropriate and consistent with our respective federal, state, or local authorities.