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EOP on the Rights of the Child – HRC37 Resolution L.33
March 23, 2018

Explanation of Position by the United States of America

Human Rights Council, 37th Session
Geneva, March 23, 2018

-As prepared –

The United States joins consensus on this resolution to underscore the priority we place on our domestic and international efforts to protect and promote the well-being of children.

In joining consensus today, we must dissociate from two paragraphs, and wish to clarify our views on several provisions.  Our general concerns, including language on international legal obligations, climate, and federalism will be addressed in the Item 3 General Explanation of Position.   We will focus here on certain key issues.

With respect to preambular paragraph 11, the United States reiterates the understandings expressed in the United States’ explanation of position on the New York Declaration, which is available as UN Document Number A/71/415.  In certain instances, U.S. law requires, for safety and/or national security reasons, that migrants who enter unlawfully remain in U.S. government custody pending adjudication of their migratory status.  The United States maintains its right to enforce its immigration laws, which are consistent with its sovereign right to control entry into its territory by foreign nationals, subject to international obligations.  With this understanding, the United States must disassociate from preambular paragraph 11 relating to the New York Declaration.  The United States remains committed to the Global Compact on Refugees.

Similarly, the United States fully supports the principle of voluntary choice regarding maternal and child health and family planning.  We have stated clearly and on many occasions, consistent with the ICPD Program of Action, that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance.  The term “sexual and reproductive health” is open to many interpretations.  The United States does not understand the term sexual and reproductive health to include the promotion of abortion and educational strategies that may increase sexual risk for youth.  We strongly support health care services that empower adolescents to avoid sexual risks and prevent early pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, thereby improving their opportunity to thrive into adulthood.

The United States disassociates from the language regarding the policies, systems, and procedures applicable to migrant children in operative paragraph 7.  The U.S. government draws from a wide range of available resources to safely process migrant children, in accordance with applicable laws and is committed to ensuring that migrant children, including those in the custody of the U.S. government, are treated in a safe, dignified, and secure manner and with special concern for their particular vulnerabilities.  The United States believes that its current practices with respect to children are consistent with our international commitments.

Moreover, as we will underscore in our Item 3 General Statement, we do not read the resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council, including this resolution, to 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.  Among other things, this understanding applies to references to the principle of the best interests of the child, which is derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

With respect to operative paragraph 10’s call for rehabilitation and reintegration efforts for children associated with armed forces, we read this language as applying to children associated with armed forces in violation of applicable international law. We understand operative paragraph 11’s reference to “illegal adoptions” to mean adoptions referred to in Article 3(1)(a)(ii) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography.

With respect to operative paragraph 21’s call to “respect, protect and fulfill the right” to education and the other references to the right to education in this resolution, we recall that Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges parties to that Convention to achieve this right progressively, as accurately reflected in operational paragraph 22 of this resolution.