Explanation of Vote on A/C.3/72/L.21/Rev.1 on Rights of the Child

Greg Staff
New York City
November 21, 2017


The United States supports and voted for this resolution to underscore the priority we place on our domestic and international efforts to protect and promote the well-being of children.

In supporting the resolution today, we wish to clarify our views on several provisions therein. We will not comment explicitly on all of our concerns about the text but instead focus on its most problematic elements. Other general concerns were addressed in the General Statement we delivered on November 20, 2017.

First, we underscore that this resolution and the other ones adopted by this Committee do not change or necessarily reflect the United States’ or other States’ obligations under treaty or customary international law, including with respect to language in preambular paragraph 16, as well as operative paragraphs 2, 9, 10, 11, 23, 37(c), 37(n), and 37(q). With respect to operative paragraph 2, we note that reservations are an accepted part of treaty practice and are permissible except when prohibited by a treaty or incompatible with the treaty’s object and purpose. Finally, with respect to operative paragraph 37(i) in particular, we underscore that human rights violations result from conduct by State officials and agents, not by private parties.

This resolution rightly emphasizes the importance of protecting vulnerable children. We read this resolution’s references to persons in vulnerable or marginalized families or communities or situations to include LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities.

The United States is firmly committed to providing equal access to education. We also note that within the federal structure of the United States, education is primarily a state and local responsibility. We therefore voted in favor of this resolution on the understanding that the United States will continue to address the goals and recommendations of this resolution with respect to curriculum, programs, training, and other aspects of education as appropriate and consistent with current U.S. law and the federal government’s authority.

With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement, we addressed our concerns in the General Statement we delivered on November 20, 2017.

As for operative paragraph 13, we understand its language to refer the “production” of child pornography.

Any reaffirmation of prior documents in this resolution and other resolutions applies only to those States that reaffirmed them initially. Furthermore, with specific reference to the reaffirmation of paragraphs 40 to 87 of General Assembly resolution 71/177, concerning migrant children, contained in operative paragraph 9 of this resolution, we underscore that the United States fulfills its applicable international obligations to promote and protect the human rights of migrants by providing substantial protections under the U.S. Constitution and domestic laws to individuals within the territory of the United States, regardless of their immigration status. We interpret resolution 71/177’s references to due process and other protections, including for persons seeking to cross an international border and in the context of returns, to be consistent with our existing national laws and policies in this regard. We also reiterate the well-settled principle under international law that all States have the sovereign right to regulate the admission and expulsion of foreign national from its territory, subject to international obligations.

The United States dissociates from the language in Operative Paragraph 10. As we underscored in our separate November 20 General Statement, we do not read this resolution to imply that states must join human rights or other international instruments to which they are not a party, or that they must implement those instruments or any obligations under them. Among other things, this understanding applies to this resolution’s references to the principle of the best interests of the child, which is derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this regard we would further reiterate that any reaffirmation of prior documents in this resolution and other resolutions apply only to those States that reaffirmed them initially.

In addition, with respect to operative paragraph 67 of General Assembly Resolution 71/177, which is reaffirmed in operative paragraph 9 of this resolution and was drawn from operative paragraph 33 of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, we reiterate the concerns in our Explanation of Position on that declaration, which are set forth in UN Document A/71/415.

Furthermore, we underscore our view that no language in this resolution or any others adopted by this Committee at its current session will pre-judge or prejudice the upcoming negotiation of a global compact on safe, orderly, and regular migration.

With respect to operative paragraph 37(h) of this resolution, we understand this provision to call on States to work to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the informed, free, and full consent of the intending spouses. Moreover, we understand that when the resolution calls on States to enact and enforce laws concerning the minimum age of consent and marriage, this is done in terms consistent with our respective federal and state authorities.

With respect to the reference to “foreign occupation” in preambular paragraph 17. We reaffirm our abiding commitment to a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. We remain committed to supporting the Palestinian people in practical and effective ways, including through sustainable development. We will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and international partners to improve the lives of ordinary people as they pursue a more sustainable future.

Second, we dissociate from the phrase “ensuring that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in policies on integration, return and family reunification in operative” in operative paragraph 10 for the reasons set forth above and in the U.S. Explanation of Position on the “Protection of Migrants” resolution adopted on November 20.

We request that the U.S. dissociations be reflected in the record for this meeting and for this resolution.