Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The United States joins consensus on “The Girl Child” Resolution, and we thank South Africa and the other countries of SADC for their efforts to find agreement on a strong text. We would like to deliver the following Explanation of Position.
When the resolution addresses “trafficking and slavery like practices,” such as in operative paragraph 15, it is important to include commercial sexual exploitation in a list along with forced and bonded labor. Forcing women to engage in prostitution and inducing children to do the same is a central form of exploitation and defined in international law as a form of human trafficking.
On operative paragraph 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.
The United States is firmly committed to providing equal access to education and the importance of fostering safe, supportive school environments and positive school climates, including preventing and addressing violence directed against girls. We understand that when the resolution calls on States to strengthen various aspects of education such as curriculum, programs, training, and other aspects of education, this is done in terms as appropriate and consistent with our respective federal, state, and local authorities.
We understand that the provisions of this resolution and the others adopted by this Committee do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law, nor do they imply that States must become parties to instruments to which they are not a party or implement obligations under such instruments. As the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provides, each State Party undertakes to take the steps set out in Article 2(1) “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights.” We interpret references to the obligations of States as applicable only to the extent they have assumed such obligations, and with respect to States Parties to the Covenant, in light of its Article 2(1). Any reaffirmation of prior documents in this resolution and other resolutions applies only to those states that reaffirmed them initially.
We understand the reference to education in the areas of sexual and reproductive health in preambular paragraph 20 to refer to age appropriate education as determined by parents or legal guardians. Therefore, we voted against the amendment proposed by Argentina.
Finally, we understand this resolution’s operative paragraph 17 to call on States to work to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the informed, free and full consent of the intending spouses. Moreover, 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 for your attention.