Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
US Mission to the United Nations
New York,New York
October 21, 2020
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Special Rapporteur Barry.
We all want safe, quality, equitable, and inclusive teaching and learning for our children and youth, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. That can take the form of in-person learning, distance learning, or a combination of the two. In the United States, where education is mainly a local responsibility, families, schools, and communities are working hard to provide solutions for safe, quality, equitable, accessible, and inclusive education, while also protecting the health of students, their families, teachers, and staff.
The United States is proud to work with its partners worldwide toward maximizing access to education – investing approximately one billion dollars annually in more than 45 countries to help ensure individuals receive the education and training they need. We are particularly proud of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene programs which help promote healthy learning in schools.
The same concern for hygiene in public places that is important to preventing diarrhea and tropical diseases is also central to halting the spread of COVID-19.
Schools in many parts of the United States, as in many countries, have shifted to distance learning and emphasized careful precaution in public places out of an abundance of caution for the health of our children.
Given these precautions, the conditions reported in China’s internment camps, supposedly for re-education, threaten not only public health but signal grave human rights abuses.
Without robust unfettered multilateral investigation of the schools in China, especially the internment camps and so-called “child welfare” institutions, we fear gross disregard for the rights your mandate covers.
Madam Special Rapporteur, Do you anticipate making a visit to China during 2021?