Remarks on a Third Committee Resolution on Rights of the Child

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 20, 2018



We thank the EU and GRULAC for their efforts on the “Rights of the Child” resolution. The United States joins consensus on this resolution to underscore the priority we place on our domestic and international efforts to protect and promote the well-being of children. In joining consensus today, we wish to clarify our views on several provisions and state for the record our dissociation on several paragraphs or phrases. We will also provide a more extensive explanation of our position for the record.

We reiterate that the language “sexual and reproductive health,” is problematic for us and still remains in the resolution. The United States therefore disassociates from OP 18, OP 22, and OP 49 because of our concern that the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “health-care services” have accumulated connotations that suggest the promotion of abortion or a right to abortion that are unacceptable to our Administration.

Please refer to our statement under Item 29 on the Fistula resolution for our full position on this issue, as well as on our concerns regarding states’ obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the precedence of conventional and customary international law, and access to education.

The United States disassociates from preambular paragraph 8 and operative paragraph 36 of the resolution. We do not support a compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration and objects to references in the resolution to this compact.

The United States notes that States cannot ensure the enjoyment of human rights, because non-state actors can impact their enjoyment as well. We also note that while children should have the ability to be heard, there is no general right to be heard.

The United States notes that the Administration announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as it is eligible to do so, consistent with the terms of the Agreement, unless suitable terms for re-engagement are identified. Therefore, the Paris Agreement and climate change language in this resolution is without prejudice to U.S. positions. We affirm our support for promoting economic growth and improving energy security while protecting the environment.

The United States strongly supports the registration of all children upon birth. We understand the obligations in this regard to be those set forth in Article 24(2) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

We understand this provision to call on States to work to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the informed, free, and full consent and is done in terms consistent with our respective federal and state authorities.

We read the reference to consular notifications and access provisions under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to refer to arranging to legal assistance, not providing it directly.

The United States reads the references to corporal or violent punishment in operative to mean punishment that rises to the level of child abuse, in line with domestic law. With regards to the reference to sexual harassment as violence in operative paragraph 20, we addressed concerns with such language in our explanation of position statement on the resolution on “Violence Against Women and Girls.” In addition, the United States notes that not all forms of bullying rise to the level of being physical violence.

With respect to children in armed conflict, the United States reiterates that there are no obligations under international humanitarian law that place a “primary responsibility” for protecting children on parties to armed conflict and neither international law does not requires States to take the measure regarding children set out in operative paragraph 52.

On the reference to the International Criminal Court, the United States addressed our concerns in a statement delivered under Agenda Item 74.

We request that the U.S. dissociations be reflected in the record for this meeting and for this resolution. Thank you.