Explanation of Position on a Third Committee Resolution on the Protection of Migrants

Timothy Johnson
U.S. Adviser for the Third Committee
New York, New York
November 16, 2023


Thank you, Mr. Chair. The United States thanks Mexico for the facilitation of this text.

States have the responsibility to protect the human rights of all persons in their territories and subject to their jurisdiction, regardless of migration status. The United States takes this responsibility very seriously and urges other States to do so as well.

The United States maintains the sovereign right to facilitate or restrict access to its territory, subject to its existing international obligations. The United States is committed to ensuring that migrants, including migrant children, are treated in a safe and secure manner. We do not read this resolution as preventing states from taking appropriate measures, consistent with their obligations under international law, to detain or prosecute persons involved in criminal activity in connection with irregular migration. We also do not read this resolution to imply that states must join international instruments to which they are not a party, or that they must implement such instruments or any obligations under them.

Among other things, this applies to the principle that the best interests of the child should be a “primary consideration” in all actions concerning children, which is derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the prohibition on collective expulsions, set forth in Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights. The United States is not a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and while the United States does take into account the best interests of the child in certain immigration actions – it is not always a “primary consideration” in the immigration context.

With respect to preambular paragraph 12, the United States notes that consular notification and access are not rights belonging to individuals. Rather, consular access and assistance rights belong to and are exercised by a detained individual’s state of nationality. It is up to representatives of that state whether or not to provide assistance, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations does not provide the detained individual any authority or right to demand it from his or her state. Moreover, we believe that referring to a specific bilateral legal matter – such as the case cited in PP 12 – is inappropriate in this resolution.

Finally, we underscore that this resolution does not alter international law. We understand abbreviated references to certain rights in this resolution to be shorthand references for the more accurate and widely accepted terms used in the applicable instruments, and we maintain our long-standing positions on those rights. In particular, the United States interprets language regarding a “prohibition on collective expulsions” to refer to non-refoulement obligations contained in Article 33 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and in Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture.

I thank you.