The United States welcomes today's adoption of the Agreed Conclusions on the theme of the elimination of violence against women and girls. This agreement is a testament to both the gravity of the issue and the seriousness with which it was treated by the members of the Commission.
We applaud your tremendous leadership, Ambassador Kamara, in chairing this session, and the tireless work of the Philippine facilitators to bring us together in this effort. We would also like to express our gratitude to Executive Director Bachelet and her team for their invaluable contributions throughout this session.
These Agreed Conclusions represent an important step toward ensuring that all women and girls around the world live productive and safe lives, free from the scourge of violence and abuse. It provides a foothold to continue the unfinished work of empowering women and girls in all fora: it reaffirms the critical role of women human rights defenders and it reinforces that States have a duty, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls.
We are particularly pleased that the Agreed Conclusions clearly acknowledge the importance of investing in and protecting sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights by reaffirming ICPD Program of Action, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the outcomes of their review processes. Reproductive rights and the full implementation of these international agreements are essential to the prevention, mitigation and elimination of violence against women and girls. The United States reaffirms our continuing commitment to protect and promote reproductive rights. We are also pleased that the Agreed Conclusions address trafficking in persons, the prevention of which is a significant priority for the United States.
While delegates have shown flexibility in reaching an outcome we can all be proud of, we lament that some important aspects were left out. Most notably, we believe that the Agreed Conclusions should and must apply to all women, regardless of their sexual orientation or/and gender identity. We regret that some delegations prevented this recognition explicitly, but are confident that a day will come soon when we are able to do so. We also hold that the term intimate partner violence more accurately captures the range of relationships where abuse can take hold, and will continue to press for that important distinction.
Today's agreement is only a beginning. We must all now continue the vital work - here at the United Nations, in our capitals, and in our schools, hospitals, courts and homes - to ensure that women and girls around the world have the safety and dignity they deserve.
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