Remarks at UN General Assembly Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Conference on Population and Development

Austin Smith
Acting U.S. Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 18, 2019


Thank you, chair. We wish to join with other delegations to commemorate the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ICPD. The Programme of Action and the Conference’s report helped reframe the discussion of population and development issues, and has provided us with an updated view of global health, women’s equality and sustainable development, and contributed to the development of goals linked to these important issues.

The United States is the largest bilateral donor of foreign assistance to many programs that support the objectives set forth in the 1994 Programme of Action. We are proud of our contributions to expanding access to basic health care and promoting women’s health across the lifespan, including that of mothers and their children.

My government is committed to helping women, their families, and their communities thrive, and to promoting and preserving human life and dignity. Our bilateral maternal and child health programs focus on 25 high-priority countries that account for two-thirds of maternal and child deaths worldwide. In the past 10 years, U.S. investments have helped save the lives of more than five million children and 200,000 women.

And with respect to the ICPD Programme of Action, my government fully supports maternal and child health and informed and voluntary access to family planning. We have stated clearly and on many occasions, consistent with the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action and its report, as adopted by the General Assembly, that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning.  We also believe the United Nations should not do so either.

When women and girls have access to education, health care, and economic opportunities, they are better able to fulfill their potential and contribute to the well-being of their families, communities, and nations, as well as to sustainable development efforts. When women do better, families do better, communities do better, and nations do better.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.