Explanation of Vote on a Resolution Entitled “Intensification of Efforts to Prevent and Eliminate All Forms of Violence Against Women”

Jennifer Barber
Special Advisor and Public Delegate
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 16, 2020


The United States thanks France and the Netherlands for their resolution on increasing global efforts to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. While the United States remains deeply committed to genuine and effective efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls, we regret that this resolution strays from the critical issue at hand.

It is particularly troubling in the midst of a global pandemic where vulnerable women are at heightened risk for domestic violence because they are isolated with abusers due to stay-at-home orders and quarantine mandates.

In the United States, we are taking proactive steps to address the problem. The recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provided $45 million for the Health and Human Services (HHS) Family Violence Prevention and Services.

Globally, as part of our unprecedented humanitarian response to the pandemic, the United States continues to support programs that provide emergency assistance to survivors of gender-based violence.

The vulnerable women in these situations deserve our support and concrete action to help them.

But instead of focusing on how to protect women and girls from violence, this resolution coopts a serious issue to further the cause of the global abortion industry, incorrectly characterizing abortion as an essential health service, falsely referring to it as “safe,” and – by inserting it in this resolution – suggesting that legal abortion restrictions themselves amount to violence against women.

Let me be very clear: abortion is not healthcare. It is not safe in any circumstance. It is not an international human right. It does not protect life, but takes life. And, as recently affirmed in the Geneva Consensus Declaration by countries representing every region of the globe, UN member states have the sovereign right to impose lawful restrictions on access to abortion, without external pressure or interference.

It is particularly hypocritical that a resolution on violence against women promotes access to something that results in the loss of millions of baby girls every year.

And it is particularly disturbing when considering recent reports alleging that forced abortion and sterilization have been used by the Chinese Communist Party as part of a continuing, violent campaign of repression against Uyghurs and other minority women in Xinjiang. Despite those reports, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) continues to operate in China subject to the Population and Family Planning Law and the corresponding provincial implementing regulations that provide the framework for the country’s coercive birth policies.

U.S. amendments to this resolution attempted to address these issues within the resolution, placing the emphasis back where it belongs – on finding solutions to combat violence against women. We regret that they did not pass, resulting in problematic language that remains in preambular paragraph 28, operative paragraph 6(i) and operative paragraph 15. The United States disassociates from those paragraphs.

The United States also disassociates from OP 7(b), as we had voiced our concern throughout negotiations on the use of the phrase “health services” in this paragraph and our preference to replace this term with “health care.” Over the years, in this context, “health services,” has acquired connotations that can be interpreted to promote abortion and suggest a right to abortion, which is unacceptable to the United States and inconsistent with Member State consensus.

With regard to this resolution’s references to international law and to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we addressed our concerns in a statement delivered on November 13.

With respect to education, we understand that when the resolution refers to educational policies, programs, and teaching materials, this is done in terms as appropriate and consistent with our respective federal, state, and local authorities.

Finally, the United States notes that pursuant to U.S. law, sexual harassment, while condemnable, is not necessarily violent. Efforts to expand the definition of violence beyond violent acts themselves undermines this resolution.