Explanation of Position on a Third Committee Resolution on the World Summit for Social Development

Dylan Lang
U.S. Adviser to the Third Committee
New York, New York
November 17, 2022


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The United States strongly endorses the need to promote respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of development. Governments need to respect human rights when promoting all policy goals, including those related to social development, such as food, education, labor, and health. The United States is disappointed that the text of this resolution addresses issues that are not clearly linked to social development or the work of this Committee. We must express our concerns that portions of this resolution inappropriately call upon international financial institutions and other non-UN organizations to take actions, such as providing debt relief, that are beyond the scope of what this body and its resolutions should properly address. Despite our serious concerns, in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, we will not block consensus. We wish to explain our position and dissociate from preambular paragraph 22 and operative paragraphs 32 and 63.

We underscore our position that trade language, negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, has no relevance for U.S. trade policy, for our trade obligations or commitments, or for the agenda at the World Trade Organization, including discussions or negotiations in that forum. 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. Additionally, this resolution does not adequately capture all of the carefully negotiated and balanced language in the WTO Agreement on TRIPS and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health of 2001, and instead presents an unbalanced and incomplete picture of that language.

Regarding reference to foreign occupation in preambular paragraph 22, we reaffirm our abiding commitment to a negotiated comprehensive and lasting peace based on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We remain committed to supporting the Palestinian people in practical and effective ways, including through sustainable development. We will continue to work with international partners to improve the lives of ordinary people.

In reference to operative paragraph 32, the United States believes that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights represent an important global framework. In that regard, we understand the responsibility of business enterprises raised in this resolution to be consistent with the UN Guiding Principles. We further emphasize that the responsibility is not limited to “transnational” or “private” corporations but applies to all kinds and forms of business enterprises.

Regarding economic and trade issues, it is inappropriate for the UN General Assembly to call on international financial institutions to provide debt relief, as this resolution does in operative paragraph 31.

Further, the demands in operative paragraph 63 that the international community “shall” increase market access are wholly unacceptable in a resolution such as this one. We note that General Assembly resolutions should refrain from using language such as “shall” in reference to action by Member States, in that such terminology is only appropriate with respect to binding texts.

We hope that in the next iteration of this resolution we can work together to address our concerns and strengthen this text.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.