Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee on Agenda Item 71: General Discussion on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

David Silverman
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 12, 2018


Thank you. Today, I will speak about a priority concern for the United States and for U.S. indigenous communities: violence against indigenous women and girls. No country is immune to this problem, including the United States, which is why the U.S. government and U.S. tribes work closely together. This effort is especially critical in the United States because American Indian and Alaskan Native women face higher rates of domestic violence and sexual assault than almost any other group in our country.

The United States continues to lead by example. Domestically, U.S. federal prosecutors bring violent offenders against indigenous women to justice and prevent future crimes. Federal grant programs for tribal communities offer indigenous survivors a broad range of services and support. Federally funded research contributes to an understanding of violence against indigenous women and its possible solutions. Federally funded training and technical assistance improves tribal ability to maintain public safety.

U.S. tribal leaders have emphasized the need for rigorous investigation and prosecution of cases involving missing or trafficked indigenous women. The U.S. Department of Justice has answered their call. Our Department of Justice works to support prosecutors to hold perpetrators accountable, including by funding specially trained prosecutors.

The Department of Justice also started a recent initiative to improve indigenous public safety by increasing U.S. federally recognized tribes’ access to national crime information databases. The increased access will allow tribes to enter registrations into the National Sex Offender Registry; to have orders of protection enforced off their reservations; to keep firearms away from those who should not receive them; and to enter arrests and convictions on tribal lands into these national databases. By the end of fiscal year 2018, 47 tribes were participating in this program, and we are working to add more next year.

As another show of U.S. commitment to ending violence against indigenous women, the Department of Justice recently announced a $246 million investment to fund programs – initiated by tribal leaders who are expert in their own communities – to address particular safety needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Another U.S. government agency is also key to our national efforts to end violence against women. The Department of the Interior works with American Indian and Alaska Natives through a victim response program for victims’ rights and restitution. In addition, the Department of the Interior leads efforts to raise awareness among federal agencies on the unique challenges and issues surrounding human trafficking of American Indian and Alaska Natives.

Finally, on the international level, at the 2016 North American Leaders Summit, the United States, Canada, and Mexico established the Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls. The Working Group has held three high-level meetings in the past three years, with the most recent meeting held in early October in Mexico City focusing on access to justice, economic rights, and empowering indigenous girls and youth. Representatives of the working group intend to meet again during the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2019.

The United States appreciates having the opportunity to discuss this important issue.