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U.S. is Firmly Committed to the Right to Education
June 13, 2013

Explanation of position/vote on the resolution entitled

“The Right to Education: Follow-Up to Human Rights Council Resolution 8/4”

delivered by Ambassador Eileen Donahoe

Human Rights Council – 23rd Session
June 13, 2013


The United States strongly supports the right to education, and this resolution’s focus on it. We firmly believe in the importance of this human right.

The United States is firmly committed to providing equal access to education, and our history provides clear and powerful examples of the important role courts can play in promoting that right.  We profoundly understand the important role that relevant adjudicatory mechanisms can play in promoting the implementation of the right to education, and we interpret the provisions of this resolution in that light.  We further note that our judicial framework provides robust opportunities for redress but is appropriately limited to parties who have suffered harm.  On the legislative side, we have a strong statutory commitment to ensuring non-discriminatory access to education which we hope may serve as example of legislative initiatives as recommended in this resolution.  As is well known, the United States notes that it is not a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, nor to the associated Optional Protocol.  Further, in joining consensus on this resolution, the United States notes that it does not recognize any change in the current state of conventional or customary international law.

We also firmly believe in the importance of quality in education, and of increased attention to it, but note concern with any attempts to add to the right to education vague components that are difficult to define and quantify.

With respect to this resolution’s references to private providers, we support encouraging private providers to deliver education consistent with its importance as a public good, and we further take very seriously the responsibility of the state to intervene in litigation as appropriate.

Additionally, we are concerned that the resolution includes declarative language on the priorities and structure of the post-2015 development agenda.  While we are strong supporters of international education efforts, we believe that language is out of step with the early stage of the post-2015 development agenda discussions and the emphasis on broad consultation and inclusivity in crafting the agenda which member states and the Secretary General have called for.  The U.S. does not regard the language in this resolution as assigning primacy to any one issue or in any other way pre-judging the outcome of full intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

Despite these concerns and because this resolution is generally consistent with our strong support for education, we join consensus on this resolution and the sponsors of this resolution for their focus on an important human right, the right to education.