Statement by Terri Robl, Deputy Representative to ECOSOC,on Agenda Item 28 (a) Advancement of Women on the resolution "Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula" in the Third Committee of the General Assembly

Teri Robl
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 26, 2012


The United States is very pleased to co-sponsor the UN General Assembly's resolution entitled "Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula."  This resolution advances our understanding of this critical maternal health issue, including by acknowledging that protecting reproductive rights plays a key role in preventing obstetric fistula.

Our collective efforts to help women around the world avoid this debilitating and often life-altering condition have also been strengthened by our agreement today that we must do all in our power to help women to realize their (quote) "right to the highest attainable standard of sexual and reproductive health."  It is only by protecting sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights, that we can reduce the incidence of this horrific condition, and provide safe and healthy environments for women to give birth, without risk of destroying their bodies in the process.

Reproductive rights, described in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development's Program of Action, in its five and ten year review agreements, and in many UN resolutions since provide the foundation for our global effort.  We very much appreciate that this resolution recognizes the importance of States complying with their commitments under the ICPD program of action.  The United States strongly supports this resolution, and we will continue to work to advance implementation of the ICPD program of action including sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

In addition, we understand the term "child marriage," which appears throughout the resolution, to signify forced and early marriage.  Most of the 50 states in the United States allow marriage under the age of eighteen.


PRN: 2012/302