U.S. Deputy Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
March 26, 2021
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
One year ago, the Commission on the Status of Women was one of the first major UN meetings that was canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City. So, one year later we aimed to come together, as a Commission, determined to build back better by addressing the discrimination barriers and violence women and girls around the world confront every day, everywhere.
Therefore, it’s particularly regrettable to the U.S. delegation that we are not endorsing a stronger text this year than we did even two years ago. We are not endorsing stronger guidelines to empower women leaders and address sexual and gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, the rates of which have skyrocketed during the pandemic.
Instead, we have a text that barely squeaked by on a very tepid consensus.
Frankly, it is alarming that this Commission nearly sunk below the benchmark of previously agreed language on issues central to the main themes and at the core of the work of this Commission: language on women human rights defenders, the role on women in peace and security, and the efforts needed to combat sexual and gender-based violence. This Commission must endeavor to do better than treading water if we are truly to build back better for all of our citizens.
I also want to take a moment to thank the distinguished delegate of Morocco for her eloquent remarks, particularly acknowledging the challenges that women and girls are facing and the threats of violence. But I’d also like to thank her for contrasting it with the particular difficulties that delegates faced this year in the virtual negotiation of the text.
We have managed well in this virtual format over the last year. Extraordinarily well, I might add, in other fora – the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, including in the ECOSOC subsidiary bodies.
But this year, at the Commission on the Status of Women, that was not the case. And we have to wonder why we had two and a half weeks of meetings that ended at 11:00 p.m. most nights, and for the last four nights, all night sessions. It wasn’t because of the length of the text, in our opinion, or the complexity of the issues that we were addressing. Frankly, we believe, it was because of a fundamental disrespect that certain delegations showed toward other delegates in the virtual room by filibustering for hours and hours and hours on end, every day and every night. And we would call for respect for the negotiation process and the avoidance of these kinds of tactics in the future.
It is also regrettable that a small number of delegations continue to challenge agreed language on a number of issues, including on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, the human rights of all women and girls in all of their diversity, language on girls and women creating a safe and enabling environment for civil society, and combating intimidation and reprisals against them.
One delegation even attempted to water down language on women and girls with disabilities. Women and girls with disabilities already face barriers that other women and girls do not. This Commission should not further marginalize them by undermining their hard-won progress on this issue of cross-regional importance.
We reject the notion that other UN bodies cannot be brought into this Commission. This is simply not true. The UN system must work together to advance the human rights of all women and girls. To this end, we regret the removal of a factual reference about the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 from the text. It is very relevant to both themes this year, and was only removed due to the demands of one delegation.
We do appreciate the inclusion of Women, Peace, and Security agenda and the full, effective, equal, and meaningful participation of women in it.
Finally, we note that these agreed conclusions do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law, or create new legal obligations. The United States understands that any reaffirmation of prior instruments in the text applies only to those states that affirmed them initially.
For further points of clarification, we refer you to our statement on the USUN website.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.