Statement on Agenda Item 25 (b), ‘Policies and Programmes Involving Youth.’

Courtney R. Nemroff
Acting U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 19, 2019


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We thank Cape Verde, Kazakhstan, and Portugal for introducing their resolution on Youth. The United States joins consensus on the resolution. With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; economic, social, and cultural rights and related concerns; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; migration and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants; and the agreed conclusions of the sessions of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, we addressed our concerns in a previous statement to the Third Committee on November 7th. Further, we understand the resolution’s reaffirmation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, and their review conferences includes the conferences’ reports.

The United States proposed amendments to operative paragraphs 10, 12, and 13. Upon failure of these amendments, our strong position on some of the text contained therein left us no choice but to call for a vote, and to vote against the three paragraphs in question. Further, we dissociate from operative paragraphs 10, 12, and 13, and do not recognize this language as “agreed” or “consensus” text for any purpose going forward.

The United States defends human dignity and supports access to high-quality health care for women and girls across the lifespan. We do not accept references to “sexual and reproductive health,” “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,” “safe termination of pregnancy,” or other language that suggests or explicitly states that access to legal abortion is necessarily included in the more general terms “health services” or “health care services” in particular contexts concerning women. The United States believes in legal protections for the unborn, and rejects any interpretation of international human rights (such as General Comment 36 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) to require any State Party to provide safe, legal, and effective access to abortion. As President Trump has stated, “Americans will never tire of defending innocent life.” Each nation has the sovereign right to implement related programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies. There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion. Further, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and their reports, we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our global health assistance.

The United States supports, as appropriate, optimal adolescent health and locally-driven, family-centered sex education provided in a context that increases opportunities for youth to thrive, and which empowers them to avoid all forms of sexual risk.

However, inclusion of the terms “comprehensive education … with information on sexual and reproductive health” is unacceptable. The application of these terms often normalizes adolescent sexual experimentation, fails to incorporate family, faith and community values, and is inconsistent with public health messages that promote the highest attainable standard of health.

The United States also dissociates from preambular paragraph 4 due to its reference to the New York Declaration .

With regard to operative paragraph 19, the United States notes that sexual harassment, while condemnable, is not necessarily violent. In U.S. law, the term violence refers to physical force or the threat of physical force.

Regarding education, to the extent that the resolution refers to school-related punishment, the United States reads it to refer to punishment that rises to the level of child abuse, in line with domestic law.

The United States emphasizes that, due to factors outside of government control, States cannot guarantee or ensure the provision of or equal access to services, resources, and opportunities, but States should seek to ensure that youth can access such services, resources, and opportunities.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.