Explanation of Position at the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (Part 1)

Nicholas M. Hill
Deputy U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
March 17, 2022


The United States is pleased to join consensus on the Doha Programme of Action (DPOA), and we commend Canada and Bangladesh for their relentless efforts to promote compromise and bring us to consensus.

While the United States is committed to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are acutely aware that we face new challenges and setbacks, including the dual threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Today, we are further concerned about the related implications of Russia’s outrageous invasion of Ukraine. Global instability hurts all of us, but no one more so than LDCs. Rising commodity prices and uncertainty in the global markets, both the direct result of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war against Ukraine, directly threaten the goals articulated in the DPOA.

The circumstances are daunting, but the DPOA will be instrumental in illuminating the path forward. The United States partners with LDCs to catalyze the necessary resources and capacity to deliver sustainable development outcomes for their people, balancing the three interlinking pillars of the 2030 Agenda: economic, social, and environmental.

We would like to take this opportunity to clarify U.S. policy positions on several issues found in the DPOA. A comprehensive version of this statement will be made available online.

We underscore that the DPOA is non-binding and does not create new or affect existing rights or obligations under international law, nor does it create any new financial commitments.

The United States upholds and respects the authority, independent mandates, and roles of other existing institutions. In this regard, we note that the indicators, governance proposals, and language developed through the 2030 Agenda and reflected in the DPOA have no precedential value—that is to say, they set no new precedents—for the International Financial Institutions. UN negotiations, including the outcome document of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the DPOA, are immaterial to our position on trade and have no relevance for U.S. trade policy, for our trade obligations or commitments, or for the agenda at the WTO.

The United States has not committed to the UN official development assistance (ODA) targets of 0.7 percent of GDP or to 0.15-0.2 percent of GNI to LDCs. The United States proudly stands as the world’s largest provider of ODA, approximately one-third of which is invested in LDCs. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the fiscal space of many developing countries. The proper fora to discuss eligibility and allocation of concessional assistance are the Boards of the Multilateral Development Banks and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The United States partners with vulnerable LDCs to help them adapt to the effects of climate change, including through enhanced access to climate finance. Last year, President Biden announced his intention to work with Congress to quadruple U.S. public international climate finance by 2024 to over $11 billion.

COP26 made substantial progress towards delivering on the goal to jointly mobilize $100 billion in climate finance annually. Consideration of progress made toward this goal, as well as decisions or mandates under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, including the Glasgow Climate Pact, remain solely under the auspices of those bodies. We note that the DPOA omits many key elements of the Glasgow Climate Pact, including several aspects related to the imperative to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The United States remains concerned about the DPOA’s use of terminology that lacks agreed-upon international definitions, including “right to development” and “illicit financial flows.” Regarding illicit financial flows, we also stress that all Member States should focus more concretely on preventing and combating corruption-related crimes at home.

Colleagues, we are glad to join you in the adoption of the DPOA. We look forward to continued collaboration at LDC5 in Doha in March 2023, and we stand ready to partner with you in the critical decade ahead.