Explanation of Position on a Second Committee Resolution on International Trade and Development

Rose Marks
U.S. Adviser to the Second Committee
New York, New York
November 23, 2022


On behalf of the U.S. government, I would like to extend our thanks to the facilitator for shepherding this resolution. The United States enjoys strong and growing trade relationships across the globe. We welcome efforts to bolster those relationships, increase economic cooperation, and advance prosperity for all people through a fair and open trade and international economic system.

We strongly support the core themes of this resolution and are pleased to join consensus this year, though following legal review we must dissociate from two paragraphs. I would like to highlight a few important issues with the text.

We must dissociate from paragraph OP18, which contains a reference to “combating protectionism in all its forms,” which we interpret as a veiled and inappropriate reference to the use of WTO-consistent trade remedy measures and enforcement actions against unfair and market-distorting trade practices of others.

We must likewise dissociate from paragraph OP24, which contains a reference to “unilateral economic, financial or trade measures.” Economic sanctions are an appropriate, effective, and legitimate tool that can be used to achieve national security and foreign policy objectives, and the United States is not alone in that view or in that practice. In cases where the United States has applied sanctions, we have done so with specific objectives in mind, including as a means to promote a return to rule of law or democratic systems, or respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, or to respond to threats to international security.

Where UN resolutions refer to independent institutions, we prefer neutral language that “notes” or “acknowledges” their function. Language extending beyond the UN’s mandate and into the mandates of independent entities such as the WTO is found in multiple paragraphs. The United States considers such language to be ultra vires and non-binding.

As we have in prior years, we underscore our position that trade language, negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council or under their auspices, has no relevance for U.S. trade policy, for our trade obligations or commitments, or for the agenda at the World Trade Organization (WTO), including discussions or negotiations in that forum. While the UN and WTO share common interests, they have different roles, rules, and memberships. Similarly, this includes calls to adopt approaches that may undermine incentives for innovation, such as technology transfer that is not both voluntary and on mutually agreed terms.

Finally, regarding our complete position on the WTO, as well as our position with respect to the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we refer you to our general statement delivered on November 21. Thank you.