Explanation of Vote at a Third Committee Plenary Meeting on an Amendment to a Resolution on Child, Early, and Forced Marriage

Sofija Korac
ECOSOC Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
December 17, 2018


Thank you, Madam President.

We regret we were unable to deliver this statement at the time of adoption in the Third Committee, but wish to take the opportunity to provide clarification of the U.S. position regarding elements of this important resolution on “Child, Early and Forced Marriage.”

We regret that the U.S. amendment to delete PP23, OP14, OP17, and OP18 did not pass. The United States disassociates from PP23, OP14, OP17, and OP18 because of our concerns about wording that exceeds prior international consensus on issues related to reproductive health care.

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 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.

With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we note that we addressed our concerns during the Third Committee session.

The United States understands that General Assembly resolutions do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law. Nor does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself create legal obligations. 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, and the United States understands that any reaffirmation of prior documents applies only to those states that affirmed them initially, and, in the case of international treaties or conventions, to those states who are party.

We note that in the United States decisions regarding education funding, and curricular and other education policies, materials, and programs, are made as appropriate and consistent with our respective federal, state, or local authorities. We also note that any potential actions to address school-related violence that has occurred, including sexual and gender-based violence, should be consistent with applicable due process protections.