Explanation of Position on a Resolution on Agriculture Development, Food Security, and Nutrition

Courtney R. Nemroff
Acting U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 24, 2020


Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning colleagues. We would also like to thank Lithuania for their work facilitating this resolution.

The United States believe this resolution recognizes the critical role agriculture can play in achieving sustainable development. We would like to clarify several points regarding the resolution.

Regarding PP12, the United States has consistently supported many important goals of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, such as investing in infrastructure, protecting the environment, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and many others. We are concerned, however, by language in Agenda 2063 committing to reducing food imports which could have a negative impact on food security and may be inconsistent with WTO policies.

On PP24, the UN should not be dictating scopes of work to independent organizations, especially regarding funding.

On PP26, WTO-consistent trade remedy measures and enforcement actions taken to protect our economy from the unfair and market-distorting trade practices of others are not “protectionist.” The United States does not advocate protectionism, but we also see no utility in reaffirming stale calls to avoid protectionism, a pledge that others routinely violate. The UN is not an appropriate venue for this discussion in our view.

Regarding PP30 and OP33, the United States supports the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including food, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Domestically, the United States pursues policies that promote access to food, and it is our objective to achieve a world where everyone has adequate access to food, but we do not treat the right to food as an enforceable obligation.

The United States does not recognize any change in the current state of conventional or customary international law regarding rights related to food. The United States is not a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Accordingly, we interpret this resolution’s references to the right to food, with respect to States Parties to that covenant, in light of its Article 2(1). We also construe this resolution’s references to member states’ obligations regarding the right to food as applicable to the extent they have assumed such obligations. We note that countries have a wide array of policies and actions that may be appropriate in promoting the progressive realization of the right to an adequate standard of living, including food. We therefore believe that resolutions should not try to define the content of that right, or related rights.

Finally, we refer you to our general statement delivered on November 18, which addresses our concerns regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement, climate change, the New Urban Agenda, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, Sendai Framework, reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and technology transfer.

I thank you again, Mr. Chair.