Explanation of Position after the Adoption of the UNGA72 Second Committee Resolution on the UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Jason Lawrence
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 28, 2017


Thank you, Chair. The United States is very supportive of the work done by the Parties to the UNCCD, including the accomplishments at the 13th UNCCD Conference of Parties, COP-13, in October 2017. However, we are concerned that this resolution does not accurately reflect decisions made by the UNCCD Parties.

This resolution repeatedly conflates language from the 2030 Agenda with text carefully negotiated and agreed upon at COP-13 and in many instances uses language that is inconsistent with the COP’s outcomes. The failure by the General Assembly to respect the decisions of an independent conference of the parties does no service to the implementation of the UNCCD and will make it more difficult to take collaborative action to combat desertification. We must insist that any future resolutions concerning the UNCCD accurately reflect the will of the Parties by recognizing and accurately reflecting agreed language. The UNCCD imposes legally binding obligations on the UNCCD Parties; this UNGA resolution text does not and cannot do so. Furthermore, it is the UNCCD Conference of the Parties – and not the UN General Assembly – that through its decisions provides guidance to the UNCCD Parties in their implementation of the Convention. As a result, when there is a discrepancy between UN General Assembly text and UNCCD COP decisions, we will only look to the UNCCD text.

Concerning language in the preambular portion of the UN Strategic Plan on Forests, the United States supports the aims of the UN Strategic Plan on Forests, but we reiterate that we dissociated from unacceptable language on the transfer of technology in the plan. We refer States to the U.S. statement on the UNSPF and stress that we do not accept the language and will not consider it as a basis for future discussions. The United States therefore disassociates from relevant text to the extent that the technology transfer references promote technology transfer or distribution of IP rights that is not voluntary and on mutually agreed terms. For the United States, any such language will have no standing in future negotiations. The United States continues to oppose language that we believe undermines intellectual property rights.

Thank you.