Remarks at a UN General Assembly high-level meeting on the Beijing Modalities Resolution

Jason Mack
Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 12, 2019


Thank you, Madame President. Thank you. The United States welcomes this resolution on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and will join consensus in its adoption. Civil society organizations and human rights defenders play a critical role in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Civil society and human rights defenders are our eyes and ears on the ground and are critical in implementing international efforts to promote and protect human rights, including the human rights of women and girls.

To this end, we welcome the text’s references to Civil Society participation in this process and urge their inclusion throughout as vital to its successes. The United States is pleased that at least three Civil Society representatives will address the high-level event next September. Civil society’s voice must be heard throughout the process including at events such as the multi-stakeholder interactive hearing and the Generation Equality Forum.

We remain concerned about the increasing trend by some member states to restrict civil society and human rights defenders at the United Nations, which we have seen across bodies and in modalities resolutions, particularly during this session of the General Assembly.

Furthermore, the United States would like to express disappointment in the way this negotiation process was handled regarding the inclusion of human rights defenders in the text. The United States negotiated constructively yet firmly throughout this process, particularly regarding the retention of the reference to human rights defenders. While it remained in the text through two rounds of silence procedure, it was removed from the final text through a non-transparent process. Removing the reference human rights defenders was the preference of a small number of delegations, and we are deeply disappointed that their views were taken on board over the majority view to retain this reference. If we cannot include human rights defenders in a modalities resolution where we should ensure their participation to discuss their work, then we should re-evaluate our work here at the UN. Leaving out critical partners from key events, such as the Beijing+25 commemoration, goes against the spirit and purpose of the United Nations.

The United States continues to be puzzled at some member states’ lack of clarity about the term, especially given that the Human Rights Defenders declaration is over 10 years old. We urge all member states to push back against this alarming trend in all future negotiations and to fight harder for the voices of our civil society and human rights defenders partners.

Thank you.