Explanation of Position on Resolution on Discrimination against Women

A/HRC/35/L.29

Explanation of Position by the United States of America,
as delivered by Jason Mack

UN Human Rights Council – 35th Session
Geneva, June 22, 2017

The United States thanks Mexico and Columbia for their efforts to craft a strong resolution on this important topic.  Eliminating discrimination against women worldwide is a key foreign policy goal of the United States, as reflected among other programs in the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally and our Let Girls Learn initiative.  Therefore, the United States strongly supports the spirit of this resolution on the elimination of discrimination against women and girls.  However, we must dissociate from operative paragraph 12 due to our concerns about issues related to reproductive rights.  The U.S. position on reproductive health, abortion, and comprehensive sexual education was stated earlier when we dissociated from OP9(d) of the Violence Against Women resolution and applies to this resolution as well.

With respect to the “temporary special measures” referenced in operative paragraphs 5(b) and 6, the U.S. position is that each country must determine for itself whether such measures are appropriate.  The best way to improve the situation of women and girls is often through legal and policy reforms that end discrimination against women and promote equality of opportunity.

The United States finds it essential to mention “women’s human rights defenders” in the resolution, and therefore voted “no” on proposed amendment L.41.  Women human rights defenders play a strong role in combating discrimination against women and are uniquely vulnerable in their efforts to defend human rights on the frontlines.  Therefore, it is important to specifically recognize them.

We are pleased that the oral amendment to PP9 did not pass.  The United States views international human rights law to be inclusive of gender.  We note that many recent consensus documents, such as those from the recent Commission on the Status of Women, speak in terms of “gender equality” and “gender discrimination.”

In closing we note that additional comments will be provided in the United States’ Statement to be delivered at the end of Item 3.

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