Explanation of Position on a Third Committee Resolution on the Right to Food

Edward Heartney
U.S. Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
November 10, 2022


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This year, the world is facing an unprecedented level of food insecurity and humanitarian crises, worsened by the impacts of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. More than 300 million people are unable to access clean water, emergency medicine, shelter, and food. More than 100 million are forcibly displaced. And hundreds of millions more are experiencing hunger.

Food insecurity is a global challenge; the United States will continue to step up and respond to this crisis to support those who need it most. This year, we’ve committed over $9 billion in lifesaving humanitarian assistance to address growing needs at home and globally.

This resolution rightfully acknowledges the hardships millions are facing and calls on States to support the emergency humanitarian appeals of the UN. Although we will not block consensus, we are disappointed that the resolution contains problematic language that is not focused on human rights. As a result, we are dissociating from preambular paragraph 13 and operative paragraph 24.

With regard to preambular paragraph 13, sanctions are an important tool for responding to malign activity and addressing threats to peace and security. In cases where the United States has applied sanctions, we have done so with specific objectives in mind. They are a legitimate way to achieve foreign policy, national security, and other national and international objectives; the United States is not alone in this view or in this practice.

With regard to references to armed conflicts, it must be emphasized that Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war in Ukraine is disrupting global food and fertilizer markets, driving cost increases, and pushed approximately 70 million people into acute food insecurity this year.

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

We are concerned with the concept of “food sovereignty” in operative paragraph 24; it could support unjustified restrictive import or export measures which increase market volatility and threaten food security, sustainability, and income growth. We cannot ignore varying local contexts and the vital role global trade plays in promoting food security. Improved access to local, regional, and global markets helps ensure food flows to people who need it most.

The United States does not concur with any reading of this resolution or related documents that suggest that States have particular extraterritorial obligations arising from a right to food. The U.S. position with respect to the ICESCR is addressed further in our general statement, to be posted online at the conclusion of this session. So, these are very important issues. We are supporting this resolution, but we do have these reservations.

Thank you.