Statement on Agenda Item 70 (b) “Protection of Migrants”

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


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

States have the responsibility to protect the human rights of all persons in their territories and subject to their jurisdiction, regardless of migration status. The United States takes this responsibility very seriously and urges other States to do so as well.

We would like to clarify our views on several elements in the text.

The terms “migration” and “migrant” are not well-defined in international law, and the United States maintains the sovereign right to facilitate or restrict access to its territory, in accordance with its national laws, policies, and interests, subject to its existing international obligations. We underscore our understanding that none of the provisions in this resolution create or affect rights or obligations of States under international law.

We believe that referring to a specific bilateral legal matter – such as the case cited in preambular paragraph 12 – is inappropriate.

With regard to references to climate change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, we addressed our concerns on in a statement delivered on November 7. Further, we refer to the National Statement of the United States of America on the Adoption of the Compact, issued December 7, 2018.

We also want to express our objections to several provisions in the text that we cannot support.

First, the United States dissociates from paragraphs 7 and 15 and operative paragraphs 4a and 11.

We reiterate the U.S. explanation of position on the New York Declaration, which is available as UN Document Number A/71/415. Our understandings concerning the Declaration apply to all resolutions adopted by this Committee at its current session.

Second, the United States dissociates from preambular paragraph 28. It inappropriately suggests that criminalizing actions relating to irregular migration could deny migrants the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Third, the United States dissociates from operative paragraph 4(a). The United States opposes arbitrary detention, consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and U.S. international obligations. However, in certain cases the detention of migrants or asylum seekers is lawful and necessary to the maintenance of public safety and national security.

Fourth, the United States dissociates from operative paragraph 4(b). The United States is committed to ensuring that migrant children are treated in a safe and secure manner, and current U.S. government practices are consistent with this. We do not read this resolution to imply that states must join international instruments to which they are not a party, or that they must implement those instruments or any obligations under them. Among other things, this applies the principle of the best interests of the child derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Fifth, the United States dissociates from operative paragraph 7. The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime does not require, nor does it prevent, States from criminalizing the acts of migrants who are engaged in being smuggled. States should combat the distinct crimes of human smuggling and trafficking in persons.

We request that these concerns be reflected in the record for this meeting and for this resolution.