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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Ambassador Betty King
U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council

Statement on the Outcome Document of Beijing Plus Five
United Nations, New York City, June 10, 2000

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Mr. President:

The United States is pleased to join consensus in this document, which represents an important milestone in the international community's efforts to promote the advancement of women. The United States has submitted to the Secretariat a written interpretive statement that we request be included in the proceedings of this conference, and in part, our consensus is based thereon.

The United States understands that, as with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, any commitments referred to in the Outcome Document for further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action attributed to States are (unless such States indicate to the contrary) not legally binding, and they consist of recommendations concerning how States can and should promote the objectives of the Conference. Therefore, these references to commitments constitute a general commitment to undertake meaningful implementation of the recommendations overall, rather than a specific commitment to implement each element thereof. Further, the United States wishes to emphasize that only states parties are obligated to implement treaties.

In the context of the Beijing Platform for Action, there are certain key issues directly connected to issues of gender and the furtherance of women's rights. In particular, the United States Government has a firm policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and considers that the omission of such a position from the Outcome Document in no way justifies such discrimination in any country.

In addition, the United States fully supports the call in the Platform for Action for governments to recognize and address the health impact of unsafe abortions. We regret that little progress has been made. Since Beijing, nearly 400,000 women have died unnecessarily from unsafe abortion. Even where abortion is legal under certain circumstances, too many countries have not yet trained and equipped health care providers nor have they taken other measures to ensure that such abortions are safe and accessible, or to safeguard women's health. We are heartened and encouraged that actions to address the health impact of unsafe abortions as a major public health concern were specified in the 5-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). On this very important issue -- saving and protecting women's lives and health -- the United States will be guided by the consensus language adopted in the Report of the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on ICPD Plus Five on steps the international community is committed to take to save the lives of women.

The United States wishes to draw attention to the fact that a number of institutions, organizations and others have been requested to implement the Outcome Document. Nonetheless, governments alone will adopt the Political Declaration and the Outcome Document. When the Outcome Document mentions the actions these other actors may take, it thereby invites and encourages the suggested actions; it does not, and cannot, require such actions. We understand that references to actions the media may take are in the nature of suggestions and recommendations. They may not be construed to allow any impingement on the freedom of the press, speech and expression, which are fundamental democratic freedoms.

As to the use of the term foreign occupation, the United States recognizes that human rights violations can and do occur in situations of foreign occupation around the world. Nevertheless, the United States continues to have reservations, as it did at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, about any implication that foreign occupation is a human rights violation per se.

The United States must request that the record of today's proceedings reflect that the United States dissociates itself from the paragraphs in the Outcome Document currently number 29, 30 ter, and 135(i), dealing with globalization and economic issues, and is generally concerned about the language in the document that deals with these issues. These paragraphs characterize globalization and debt as significant obstacles to achieving gender equality. It is our view that national governments bear the primary responsibility for social and economic development, and for ensuring equality for women in all walks of life. Most aspects of equality for women have no direct link to international economic and financial issues.

The record should also show that the United States dissociates itself from the paragraph currently numbered 133m bis, which concerns disarmament. The United States has two concerns with this paragraph. First, the United States disagrees with the paragraph's assertion that the United Nations establishes priorities for disarmament. We believe that establishing priorities for disarmament is the prerogative of the member states of the United Nations. Second, the paragraph proposes that resources made available as a result of disarmament activities be allocated to social programs which benefit women and girls. While the United States strongly supports economic and social development programs, especially those that promote gender equality, the United States also has a longstanding, position of not linking the two distinct issues of disarmament and the predetermined use of resources realized, if any, from disarmament.

The United States reiterates that, with respect to all references to foreign assistance and official development assistance, it is not one of the countries that have accepted an "agreed target" for such assistance or have made commitments to fulfill any such targets.

The United States fully supports the objectives of the Outcome Document and is willing to work with others to ensure that there is a proper allocation of resources to address commitments made in the Outcome Document. However, the United States cannot agree to an increase in funding for matters dealt with in the Outcome Document, other than in the context of reallocation of existing resources, or unless sources of funding other than governmental assessments are involved. The United States believes actions, to be taken in accordance with the Outcome Document can be accomplished through actions at the national and local level.

Finally, the United States notes that many of the issues covered by the Outcome Document were, of course, covered in the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. Therefore, the United States understands that the written interpretive statement that it submitted in that connection is applicable, where relevant and appropriate, to the Outcome Document.

[end of document]

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