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The U.S. Co-sponsors Rights of the Child Resolution
March 23, 2011

Rights of the Child

U.S. General Statement (introducing amendment)

Human Rights Council

Geneva, Switzerland
March 23, 2011

Thank you, Mr. President. The United States is extremely pleased to co-sponsor the “Rights of the Child resolution: a holistic approach to the protection and promotion of the rights of children working and/or living in the streets” and thanks the co-sponsors for their transparency and flexibility during the negotiations. Consistent with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols and the objectives expressed in the resolution, the United States continues its domestic efforts to strengthen already existing protections for children and to pursue new and innovative ways of ensuring that the rights of children are realized.

The plight of homeless and runaway children at risk of exploitation is a global concern. The problem occurs internationally, from the city to the countryside, in affluent areas as well as in poor. Homeless children go to great lengths to stay out of sight and out of mind of the public and the authorities. They endure terrible circumstances as a result, and it is our job as concerned human beings and responsible governments to care, to take notice, and to give these children hope for a brighter future. We need to help these children find access to a caring adult, a secure home, an education, and a sustainable future.

Domestically, the United States Government is strongly committed to fighting homelessness, including for children. To contribute to this effort, President Obama included $1.5 billion in the stimulus bill for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program in 2010.

In addition, through the USG’s Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families program awarded a total of $48.6 million to 362 Basic Center Programs. The Basic Center Programs provided shelter to 44,929 youth up to age 18 or higher in some U.S. states. The youth received services including counseling, life skills training, and physical health care.

Internationally, the United States government provides significant resources to assist highly vulnerable children, including homeless and runaway children who are at risk of exploitation. There is an array of separate programs led and managed by over 20 different offices in seven USG agencies. These offices funded approximately 1,900 projects in 107countries in fiscal year 2009. It is important to underscore that the United States considers prostitution of children to be a serious form of exploitation and that child prostitution should never be considered a legitimate form of work. This of course applies to homeless and runaway children who are at risk of exploitation.

Today we join consensus/co-sponsor on this resolution with the express understanding that it does not imply that States must become parties to instruments to which they are not a party nor that they must implement obligations under human rights instruments they are not a party to. By joining this resolution, we do not recognize any change in the current state of treaty or customary international law. Further we understand the resolution’s reaffirmation of prior documents to apply to those who affirmed them initially. Finally we understand that the term “right of protection” in the resolution refers to Article 3(2) of the Convention which obligates States Parties “to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being.”

Prostitution text reads as follows: “Recognizing that prostitution of children is a serious form of exploitation, violence and a crime against those most vulnerable, that States Parties shall prohibit an address it under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and reiterating the importance of States ensuring children’s protection there from,”