Today, we commit to work together until we accomplish each of our shared goals: for women and girls, for families, for life in all stages of development, and the sovereignty of each of our nations. It is difficult to win these battles alone, but together, we are stronger, and together, we can deliver for women, girls, and all the nations and peoples we represent.
Fellow ministers and distinguished guests, it is both a privilege and a highpoint of my tenure as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to cohost today's virtual signing of the Geneva Consensus Declaration.
I am honored to be joined in marking this important occasion by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and together, we bring greetings and appreciation from President Trump, who has praised this initiative on numerous occasions and repeatedly fought for its ideals in global fora.
We wish we could be together in person to celebrate this historic achievement, but we are grateful for your participation virtually. As today's gathering reflects, even during COVID-19, we can find safe and creative ways to keep our important work moving forward.
In signing the declaration today, the United States is honored to stand alongside Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda—the cross regional cosponsors for the Declaration. We are humbled by the support of the 32 nations who today are signing the Declaration.
Today is not the last chance that nations have to sign onto this document—we invite other countries to join this effort in the coming months and years.
I hope you will also join us next year for the Global Women's Health Summit, where we will forge a new path forward to improve the lives of women across the globe. The same goals that underpin today's ceremonial signing event will inform the work of that summit.
The Geneva Consensus Declaration is an historic document, stating clearly where we as nations stand on women's health, the family, honoring life, and defending national sovereignty.
The Declaration is much more than a statement of beliefs—it is a critical and useful tool to defend these principles across all United Nations bodies and at every multilateral setting, using language previously agreed to by member states of those bodies.
I want to briefly recount how far we have come in getting to this point. Our growing partnership began about a year and a half ago, when 9 countries came together on a joint statement at the 2019 World Health Assembly in Geneva to rally around these priorities.
Later that fall, at the U.N. General Assembly, 21 countries communicated their support in another joint statement for, quote, "programs to improve the health, life, dignity, and well-being of women, men, children, and families" and asked that, quote, "the U.N., including U.N. agencies, focus on concrete efforts that enjoy broad consensus among member states," rather than introducing concepts for which there will never be consensus.
These statements brought badly needed attention to a disturbing trend: With increasing frequency, some rich nations, and U.N. agencies beholden to them, are wrongly asserting abortion as a universal human right. These efforts pressure countries to institute progressive abortion laws or risk losing global funding or standing in international fora.
Tragically, women around the world unnecessarily suffer health challenges—all too often, deadly health challenges—while too many wealthy nations and international institutions put a myopic focus on a radical agenda that is offensive to many cultures and derails agreement on women's health priorities.
Today, we put down a clear marker: No longer can U.N. agencies reinterpret and misinterpret agreed-upon language without accountability. Member States set the policy for the U.N. to pursue. Not the other way around.
Without apology, we affirm that governments have the sovereign right to make their own laws to protect innocent life and write their regulations on abortion.
The stakes are too high to permit radical, divisive agendas to hinder the ability of women in countries at all stages of development to attain better health.
Today's Geneva Consensus Declaration builds upon last year's joint statements by formalizing our work together to defend these critical values. Our coalition will hold multilateral organizations accountable.
We will denounce these organizations when they overstep their mandates by promoting positions that can never gain consensus. We will unequivocally declare that there is no international right to abortion. We will proudly put women's health first, at every stage of life.
This Declaration, agreed to by a coalition representing every region on earth and more than 1.6 billion human beings, is a new and powerful tool in this noble and life-saving effort.
Countries represented today are diverse in geography, size, culture, religion, and ethnicity, but we are bound in a powerful way by our common goals. Today, we commit to work together until we accomplish each of our shared goals: for women and girls, for families, for life in all stages of development, and the sovereignty of each of our nations. It is difficult to win these battles alone, but together, we are stronger, and together, we can deliver for women, girls, and all the nations and peoples we represent.
I will now introduce Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a key leader and ally of these efforts, to offer some remarks.