Concluding Statement on the CSW 2019 Agreed Conclusions

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
United States
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
March 22, 2019

AS DELIVERED

Thank you Madam Chairwoman and thank you Madam Facilitator.

The United States is concerned by all reports of harassment and bullying during this session, including of the facilitator. This is unacceptable.

In our opening statement, we concluded by saying ‘we hoped the CSW could speak as “one voice for every woman and every girl in this room and around the world.” Unfortunately, this did not happen as the process was deeply flawed including how some decisions were taken on sensitive issues.

Further, the document is unwieldy and retains terms and concepts that remain controversial or unclear among the broader UN membership as others have said which prevented all Members of the Commission to join consensus on this document. Unfortunately, we are not surprised by this outcome. Although the United States was not a member of the Commission, we participated fully in negotiations and are sad to say the clear views of many delegations were not taken into account.

Some of the issues of concern to my delegation remain that the agreed conclusions must take into account the sovereignty of each country. But national sovereignty begins with a respect for human rights. As Secretary Pompeo has said, “nothing can replace the nation-state as the guarantor of democratic freedoms and national interests….We aspire to make the international order serve our citizens – not to control them. America intends to lead – now and always.”

Madam Chair, the United States supports the empowerment of women and girls. That is why my delegation preferred the use of the term “women and girls” where it provided greater clarity and focus in the document.

The United States also strongly supports the irreplaceable primacy of parents and the family they create, which is the foundational institution of society, vital to the health of a nation and human flourishing. As President Trump aptly stated “parents, not bureaucrats, know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society.

Madam Chair, the United States fully supports maternal and child health and informed and voluntary access to family planning. We have stated clearly and on many occasions, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action and its report, as adopted by the General Assembly, that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our women’s global assistance. Over the years and among some UN agencies the phrases “sexual and reproductive health”, “health care services” and “health services” have acquired connotations that promote abortion and attempt to create a claimed “right” to abortion. As others have said tonight, the United States does not accept these terms as they often encompass abortion as a method of family planning. Moving forward, the Administration seeks to find consensus with a wide group of Member States on other terminology that would better capture our common commitment to meet the health needs of women and adolescents throughout the world, while respecting national policies.

The U.S. supports 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, the inclusion of the terms “comprehensive education and sexual and reproductive health information” is unacceptable. The application of this term often normalizes adolescent sexual experimentation, fails to incorporate family, faith and community values, are inconsistent with public health messages that promote “the highest attainable standard of health, and promotes abortion as a solution to a teen pregnancy."

Madam Chair, again, the listing of various international conventions neither changes the current state of conventional or customary international law nor implies that states must join or implement obligations under international instruments to which they are not a party.

The United States continues to emphasize the important role civil society plays both in the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, and in providing expertise and advocacy within the UN system. It acknowledges that strong, vibrant civil societies are critical to having strong, successful countries. It acknowledges that governments are more responsive and effective when citizens are free to organize and work together across borders. We recognize the importance of states’ commitments to creating an enabling environment for civil society and encourage all states to work together and with relevant regional, UN, and civil society mechanisms in this effort.

We were pleased to see language on indigenous women and girls and women and girls with disabilities. Women and girls belonging to these marginalized groups experience additional discrimination and challenges to social protection from barriers society puts on them. We are also happy to see women and girls with disabilities included in various issues related to social protection in this text - drawing attention here in the CSW to the challenges and discrimination they face moves us one step closer to mainstreaming the human rights of persons with disabilities across the UN system. Separately, my delegation will continue to focus on improving accessibility to the UN.

Madam Chair, the United States continues to believe that each Member State has the prerogative to determine its relationship with other countries, and that this includes restricting that relationship in certain circumstances. Economic sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral, can be a successful means to achieve foreign policy, national security, and other objectives. In cases in which the United States has applied sanctions, we have used these with specific objectives in mind, including as a means to promote a return to rule of law or democratic systems, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, or to prevent threats to international security. We are within our rights to use sanctions as a tool to achieve noble objectives, and U.S. sanctions are consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

We would also like to reiterate our understanding of the references to “universal health coverage.” We emphasize that States do not have obligations under international law to achieve universal access to healthcare. We encourage governments and public institutions to strive to improve access to quality universal healthcare and to do so in accordance with their national contexts and policies. The United States will continue to work to improve access to quality healthcare while also recognizing the necessary role of partnerships with the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations, and other non-governmental stakeholders.

Turning to this document’s “reaffirmation” of the 2030 Agenda, the United States recognizes the Agenda as a global framework for sustainable development that can help countries work toward global peace and prosperity. The United States supports the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a framework for development and will continue to be a global leader in sustainable development through our policies, partnerships, innovations, and calls to action. However, the 2030 Agenda recognizes that each country must work toward implementation in accordance with its own national policies and priorities.

We look forward to participating next year as a Member of the Commission, when we will once again join in discussions on the best path toward removing barriers to the empowerment of women and girls.

Thank you.

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