Explanation of Position following the Adoption of the UNGA72 Second Committee Resolution on Women in Development

Jason Lawrence
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 30, 2017


Thank you, Chair.

The United States is committed to advancing the status of women and promoting their role as agents of transformation in the economic development of their countries, and therefore the world. The United States joins consensus on the “Women in Development” resolution, and we would like to deliver the following Explanation of Position.

With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and climate change, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we addressed our concerns in a statement delivered Friday, November 17.

We also underscore our disagreement with other inaccurate language in this text. For example, this resolution refers to a “world financial and economic crisis” in preambular paragraph 13, when we are not currently in a world financial and economic crisis. Using this term detracts attention from important and relevant challenges facing economic stability. Unfortunately, the resolution mentions none of these significant factors.

The United States’ views about the “right to development,” referenced in preambular paragraph 22, are long-standing and well known. The “right to development” continues to lack any agreed international meaning, and further work is needed to make any such “right” consistent with Member States’ obligations to promote and protect fundamental human rights, including civil and political rights. As we have repeatedly stated, any related discussion needs to focus on aspects of development that relate to human rights, which are universal rights held and enjoyed by individuals, and which every individual may demand from his or her own government.

We would like to reiterate our understanding of the references to “universal access to affordable and quality healthcare.” We emphasize that States do not have obligations to achieve universal access to healthcare. We encourage governments and public institutions to strive to improve access to quality universal healthcare and to do so in accordance with their national contexts and policies. The United States will continue to work to improve access to quality healthcare while also recognizing the necessary role of partnerships with the private sector and other non-governmental stakeholders.

We join consensus on the understanding that the United States will continue to address the resolution’s goals, including the ones described in operative paragraph 23, consistent with current U.S. law and the federal government’s authority. With respect to operative paragraph 23, we read the references to full employment to refer to the importance of productive employment because “full employment” refers to the state of an economy rather than the employment situation of individuals. We also note that the U.S. position with respect to the “temporary special measures” that operative paragraph 23 mentions is each country must determine for itself whether such measures are appropriate. The best way to improve the situation of women and girls is often through legal and policy reforms that end discrimination against women and promote equality of opportunity.

Thank you for your attention.