Explanation of Position for the adoption of a General Assembly modalities resolution on achieving Universal Health Coverage

Jason R. Mack
Acting Deputy U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
August 17, 2021


Thank you, Madam Vice President. The United States engaged constructively in the negotiations for this modalities resolution, and we look forward to the 2023 high-level meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the critical importance of a solid global pandemic preparedness architecture, complementing strong existing health systems, including each country progressing toward achieving their own path towards universal health coverage and sustainable health financing systems. In order to achieve UHC, we must ensure that all stakeholders, including civil society, are included in the high-level meeting given their critical role on the ground.

Civil society organizations continue to serve as the collective eyes and ears on the ground, providing critical information and perspectives on achieving UHC. Civil society’s perspectives add great value to our efforts because they work across countries, regions, and issues, and they push each of us to do better as governments – the voices who disagree with governments are as important, if not even more important, in order to shed light on problems. With and through the meaningful involvement of a diverse and independent civil society, key populations are served, and individual human rights are upheld. Without civil society voices at the table, advancements in the global efforts towards achieving universal health coverage will be less effective and ultimately incomplete.

We are pleased that OP10, in its entirety, remains in this resolution. OP10, which also appears in five recent consensual modalities resolutions, recognizes the importance of an inclusive dialogue when addressing important issues here at the UN. In the case there may be objections to the participation of an NGO, it is important that the General Assembly decide on such participation, rather than a single member state or small group. Doing so increases transparency and accountability. Such decisions should not be determined behind closed doors, and by the objection of one or a few member states. The General Assembly, meaning all of us, not just one or two, must consider the criteria set forth by the NGO committee in determining eligibility for participating in a meeting and push back against politicizing the work of civil society. The no-objection basis, when it was introduced into the General Assembly in 2012, was brought in the hopes that it would work properly. However, it has been abused, which is the reason why we have seen the change over the past five resolution modality adoptions.

We are pleased to see OP11 deleted from today’s text. This language was brought very late in the negotiation process with little transparency, and has not appeared in any prior modalities resolutions. UN agencies are already involved in crafting the list of civil society organizations who will participate in high-level meetings, and this paragraph is not needed to affirm this existing role. Furthermore, this paragraph potentially changes existing good practice on selecting civil society to participate in UN high-level meetings.

We collectively have a lot more work to do to increase civil society participation across the UN and will continue these efforts for future modalities and meetings.

Thank you.