Explanation of Position on a Third Committee Resolution on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty

Dylan Lang
Adviser to the Third Committee
New York, New York
November 14, 2022


Thank you, Mr. Chair. We thank Peru for facilitating this important resolution.

We are disappointed by the lack of language explaining how conflict can lead to extreme poverty. Ongoing conflicts are currently disrupting access by vulnerable populations to daily needs such as food, causing severe energy shortages, and preventing people from working, all of which deprive people of their livelihoods and can result in extreme poverty. As Secretary General Guterres said, Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine could throw up to 1.7 billion people — over one-fifth of humanity — into poverty, destitution, and hunger on a scale not seen in decades.

We disagree with the assertion in PP25 that extreme poverty may amount to a threat to the right to life. Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of life by State actors. We do not believe that a State’s duty to protect the right to life by law would extend to addressing general conditions in society or nature that may eventually threaten life or prevent individuals from enjoying an adequate standard of living.

As we noted when we joined consensus on previous resolutions on extreme poverty at the UN General Assembly, we believe the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights, as referenced in this current resolution, articulate useful guidelines for consideration by States in the formulation and implementation of poverty reduction and eradication programs. However, the United States would like to recall that the principles were adopted “as a useful tool for States” to consider in the formulation of poverty reduction and eradication strategies as appropriate. Therefore, not all aspects of the principles may be appropriate for implementation in all circumstances under the domestic laws of States. We also emphasize that the Guiding Principles include interpretations of human rights law with which we disagree.

Furthermore, while we agree that poverty, inequalities, and exclusions may be harmful to human dignity and the enjoyment of human rights by individuals experiencing such issues, we do not believe such conditions in and of themselves necessarily constitute violations of State obligations under international human rights law.

We again underscore that this resolution, and many of the outcome documents referenced therein, including the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, are non-binding

documents that do not create rights or obligations under international law. We have outlined our specific concerns about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development separately.

We underscore our position that trade language, negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council, has no relevance for U.S. trade policy, obligations, or commitments, or for the agenda at the WTO, including discussions or negotiations in that forum.

We note that the “right to development” discussed in this resolution is not recognized in any of the core UN human rights conventions, does not have an agreed international meaning, and, in distinction to human rights, is not recognized as a universal right held and enjoyed by individuals.

The United States refers you to our general statement which will be posted in full on the Mission’s website.

Thank you.