Explanation of Position at the Adoption of the UN Ocean Conference Outcome, “Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action”

Ambassador David Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
New York City
June 9, 2017



Thank you, Madam Chair. The United States would like to begin by thanking Ambassador Gafoor and Ambassador Mendonça e Moura for your strong and able leadership as co-facilitators during the preparatory process for the conference. We would also like to thank our fellow delegates and the stakeholder community for their dedication and constructive engagement in this process.

The United States remains committed to working with all stakeholders, within and outside the UN system, to protect our ocean and promote development through its sustainable use. In that spirit, we make the following statements and clarifications with respect to the Call for Action.

The United States joins with other delegations through this legally non-binding Call for Action in emphasizing the need to enhance scientific knowledge and research, which is critically important to support the implementation of Goal 14. The United States reaffirms in this context that the strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights provides incentives needed to foster innovation that enables us to address health, environment, and development challenges of today and tomorrow. Therefore, the United States does not support the reference to technology transfer in paragraph 12 and continues to oppose language that we believe undermines intellectual property rights.

The United States disassociates from the language in Paragraph 13(p) that refers to WTO negotiations and special and differential treatment. For the United States, this language will have no standing in future WTO negotiations and does not apply in other forums. As we have stated before, the WTO’s independence from the United Nations must be respected, and we continue to believe that the UN must not attempt to speak to ongoing or future work in the WTO, reinterpret existing WTO rules and agreements, or undermine the WTO’s independent mandate and processes. Continued attempts to do so at the UN will make it difficult for the United States to join consensus on resolutions and conference documents.

With respect to the reference to the Paris Agreement in paragraph four, the United States notes that, on June 1, our president announced that the United States will withdraw from or renegotiate U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement or another international climate deal.

As we noted at the opening of the conference, the United States views this conference as an important part of the global movement to address threats to the ocean and to promote its conservation and sustainable management for this and future generations. Through our collective commitment to the conservation and sustainable management of the ocean, we can ensure security and economic prosperity.

With these statements and clarifications, the United States joins consensus on the adoption of the Call for Action. Thank you.