General Comment: A/HRC/26/L.26/Rev.1 on VAW
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
UN Human Rights Council – 26th Session
As Delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
Geneva, June 26, 2014
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States welcomes the resolution entitled “Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women: Violence against women as a barrier to women’s political and economic empowerment.”
Seven out of ten women and girls suffer gender-based violence in their lifetimes, and for women and girls to take full advantage of opportunities in the political and economic sphere they must be able to live freely, without the threat of violence.
We applaud the focus of this resolution on that critical nexus.
The United States considers harmful traditional practices a form of violence against women and girls.
Those include child, early, and forced marriage, which the resolution mentions specifically, as well as “honor” killings, acid-related violence, and female genital mutilation/cutting.
The significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, but states have a duty, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We are pleased that this resolution recognizes that members of minority groups may be at increased risk of violence.
In this regard we welcome its specific references to indigenous women and girls and women and girls with disabilities.
We underscore our continuing, deep concern about violence against lesbians and transgender women and girls, violence against women human rights defenders, and conflict-related sexual violence.
Violence seriously jeopardizes the physical and mental health of women and girls, including, in many instances, their sexual and reproductive health.
Respecting and promoting reproductive rights – including the right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, and access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services – must be integral to our efforts to end violence against women and girls.
We are, therefore, pleased that this resolution recognizes the strong connection between sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and efforts to address and end violence against women, including rape.
Reproductive rights were originally defined in the International Conference on Population and Development’s Program of Action adopted in 1994 and elaborated and reaffirmed in numerous intergovernmental documents since.
They provide the foundation for our global effort.
Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so.
The implementation of these instruments is contributing significantly to progress on preventing, mitigating, and ultimately eliminating violence against women and girls.
We believe this resolution should have contained specific references to sexual and reproductive health services, which among other things are crucial because the risk of pregnancy is also an important possible outcome of rape.
We are pleased to note that the Commission on the Status of Women and CPD have recognized the significance for survivors of access to emergency contraception, safe abortion, and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
We continue to believe this Council should do the same.
We are gratified that this resolution urges states to take myriad actions to further the goal of ending violence against women and girls.
We note that nothing in this resolution urges states to implement special measures where such actions would not be appropriate; the United States will address other recommendations in the resolution consistent with our federal system.
In conclusion, the United States is pleased to renew our commitment to supporting the Council as it redoubles its efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.