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EOP: Preventable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 years of age as a human rights concern
September 26, 2013

“Preventable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 years of age as a human rights concern”

Explanation of Position

Statement of the Delegation of the United States of America 

UN Human Rights Council – 24th Session
September 26, 2013


The United States is pleased to join consensus on this resolution addressing the important topic of morbidity and mortality for children under five.  We are glad to see the resolution calls upon States to increase their efforts to address child mortality and apply a human rights-based approach, which we understand to mean an approach anchored in a system of rights and corresponding obligations established by international human rights law.

As we have stated before, the United States remains deeply engaged in promoting healthy children both domestically and internationally.  We look forward to continuing to work with other nations and international partners to ensure that all children live healthy lives, and that their human rights are respected.  In September 2010, the UN launched the Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health in order to accelerate progress toward the advancement of the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals.  Supporting the strategy, the United States, Ethiopia, and India, in collaboration with UNICEF, convened the Child Survival Call to Action last June that urged countries to embrace the goal of ultimately ending all preventable child deaths.  To date, more than 160 governments have signed this pledge, and we are continuing to work with our partners to see the progress continue.

In April 2012, the United States launched the “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” awareness raising campaign.  The United States also remains the largest government donor to UNICEF, focusing largely on vaccination campaigns and work on child survival.  Over the past year, we have contributed more than $345 million to UNICEF, including large contributions to emergency appeals and to support worldwide immunization efforts.
We have joined consensus 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 or implement obligations under human rights instruments to which they are not a party.  Furthermore, to the extent that it is implied in this resolution, the United States does not recognize the creation of any rights or principles that we have not previously recognized, the expansion of the content or coverage of existing rights or principles, or any other 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.

With this resolution, our understanding is that the World Health Organization is willing to undertake this project, and has sufficient resources to do so.  We also underscore that the World Health Organization has the primary mandate for the norms, evidence-based strategies, and reporting on morbidity and mortality for children under the age of five.  While we welcome collaboration between the OHCHR and the WHO, it is important for their mandates to remain distinct.