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U.S. Clarifies Position on Issues in Various Resolutions at 35th Human Rights Council
June 23, 2017

Item 3: GS/EOP by the United States of America
As delivered by Jason Mack

Human Rights Council – 35th Session
Geneva, June 23, 2017

Mr. President,

The United States makes the following statement to clarify its position on issues that were present in various resolutions during the current Human Rights Council session.

The United States understands that these resolutions do not imply that states must join human rights or other international instruments to which they are not a party, or that they must implement those instruments or any obligations under them.  The Council’s resolutions do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law.  We understand abbreviated references to certain human rights in these resolutions to be shorthand references for the more accurate and widely accepted terms used in the applicable international covenants, and we maintain our longstanding positions on those rights.  The United States understands that any reaffirmation of prior documents in these resolutions applies only to those states that affirmed them initially.  We also underscore that human rights are held and exercised by individuals, not groups.

As the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provides, each State Party undertakes to take steps set out in Article 2(1) “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights.”  We interpret references to the obligations of States as applicable only to the extent they have assumed such obligations, and with respect to States Parties to the Covenant, in light of its Article 2(1).  We note that countries have a wide array of policies and actions that may be appropriate in promoting the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights.  Therefore, we believe that these resolutions should not try to define the content of those rights.

The concerns of the United States about the existence of a “right to development” are long-standing and well known. While we recognize that development facilitates the enjoyment of human rights, the “right to development” does not have an agreed international meaning. Furthermore, work is needed to make any such “right” consistent with human rights, which the international community recognizes as universal rights held and enjoyed by individuals and which every individual may demand from his or her own government‎.

The United States objects to statements on technology transfer found in resolutions adopted by this body and reaffirms that this language will have no standing in future negotiations.  The United States continues to oppose language that we believe undermines intellectual property rights.

The United States is firmly committed to providing equal access to education, including the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl.  We note that our judicial framework provides robust opportunities for redress, but it is appropriately limited to parties that have suffered them.  As educational matters in the United States are primarily determined at the state and local levels, we understand that when resolutions call on States to strengthen various aspects of education, including access to quality education, this is done in terms consistent with our respective federal, state, and local authorities.

This general statement applies to the following resolutions: Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Violence Against Women: Engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls; Child, Early and Forced Marriage in Humanitarian Settings; Human Rights and Climate Change; the Negative Impact of Corruption on the Enjoyment of Human Rights; Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and Girls; Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions; Extreme Poverty and Human Rights; Realizing the Equal Enjoyment of the Right to Education by Every Girl; Human Rights in Cities and Other Human Settlements; Enhancement of International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights; International Solidarity; the Right to Education: follow-up to Human Rights Council Resolution 8/4; and the Right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as National Policies and Human Rights.

Finally, we wish to correct the record with respect to our EOP on the Resolution on Violence Against Women (L.15).  In joining consensus on that resolution, the U.S. disassociated from paragraph 9.d.

Thank you.