Explanation of Position on “Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

Jordyn Arndt
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 7, 2019


Thank you, Chair.

We thank Bolivia and Ecuador for their resolution entitled “Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The United States reaffirms its support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As explained in our 2010 Statement of Support, the Declaration is an aspirational document of moral and political force and is not legally binding or a statement of current international law. The Declaration expresses aspirations that the United States seeks to achieve within the structure of the U.S. Constitution, laws, and international obligations, while also seeking, where appropriate, to improve our laws and policies.

The United States wishes consensus agreement could have been reached on wording to promote repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains. We continue to encourage States to develop national mechanisms, such as laws or museum policies, in consultation with indigenous peoples concerned. In 1990, the United States established a mechanism for the U.S. government to work in consultation with Native Americans to repatriate human remains and ceremonial objects. As a result, U.S. institutions have returned approximately 1.9 million items to Native American communities that depend on them for their well-being.

With regard to OP 21, 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.

Finally, with regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration; and what we view as the non-consensus based Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women’s 63rd session, we addressed our concerns in a statement immediately preceding this debate.

Thank you.