Statement on Agenda Item 66 (a), “The Girl Child”

Courtney R. Nemroff
Acting U.S. Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 15, 2019


We thank Tanzania for its resolution, “The Girl Child.” The United States joins consensus today.

With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and economic, social, and cultural rights, including those involving education and health, we addressed our concerns in two previous statements: one delivered November 7th on Third Committee resolutions, and another delivered October 10th concerning the SAMOA Pathways political declaration.

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-care services,” “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. 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 notes, with regard to PP 22, that harassment, while condemnable, is not necessarily physical violence. To the extent that OP 24 refers to school-related punishment, we read it to refer to punishment that rises to the level of child abuse, in line with domestic law.

With respect to PP16, OP23, and OP25, we prefer the phrase “child sexual abuse material or child sexual abuse imagery, often referred to or criminalized as child pornography” over “child pornography and other child sexual abuse material.” The United States also has concerns regarding the use of the term “child prostitution” in PP16 and OP23. Any involvement of children in prostitution is non-consensual and criminal. The United States prefers to use the terms ““child sex trafficking,” the “commercial sexual exploitation of children” or “exploitation of children in prostitution”.

On OP 23, the wording “trafficking and forced migration” seem to imply movement. The crime of trafficking in persons, however, as defined in the widely ratified Trafficking protocol, is not movement based.

Finally, regarding OP 18, we understand that when the resolution calls on States to enact and enforce laws concerning the minimum age of consent and marriage, this is done in terms consistent with our respective federal and state authorities.

Thank you.