Explanation of Position on a UN Economic and Social Council Resolution on Strengthening the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 21, 2018


The United States joins consensus on this resolution and reaffirms the vital function of the United Nations in responding to humanitarian need around the globe. The United States has long been a world leader in providing humanitarian assistance to people in need, and we remain committed to supporting those in need.

In light of the scale of need and of the UN’s role in the delivery of humanitarian assistance globally, this resolution should contribute to improving the international humanitarian system. In this regard, we welcome the progress achieved together on critical issues such as education in emergencies, preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, and tackling fraud, waste and abuse in the system. However, the overall value of this forward movement quickly diminishes if the content of these resolutions largely remains stagnant, and at their core, they do not address the most pressing, substantive, high-impact issues.

Further, instead of focusing solely on core humanitarian issues, countries continue to pursue policy agendas that do not engender international consensus.

In this regard, we would also like to point to the need for this resolution to address more accurately the primary drivers of humanitarian needs. We underscore that conflict and access constraints, rather than climate change or volatile commodity prices, are the key drivers of famine and humanitarian crises.

The United States would like to state for the record our dissociation from consensus on Preambular Paragraph 29 and Operative Paragraphs 15 and 20 and seeks to clarify our understandings on several other elements in the text.

The United States remains a stalwart defender of, and donor to, maternal and children’s health, life, and well-being, and we will never waiver on that support.

However, the United States is unable to agree to the language in Operative Paragraphs 15 and 20, and consequently must dissociate from both operative paragraphs. We have stated clearly, and on many occasions, consistent with the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development – ICPD – Program of Action and the Conference’s report, that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our global health assistance. In the ensuing years since the ICPD, the terms “sexual and reproductive health services” and “sexual and reproductive health” have accumulated connotations that run counter to the consensus forged at ICPD. The terms have been used to promote abortion, and the right to abortion. For this reason, the United States cannot accept the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health services” and “sexual and reproductive health” in the resolution.

We encourage both UN agencies and other Member States to work with us to resolve differences of views around these important issues in a manner that protects the health of victims of crises while respecting national policy space. Moving forward, the United States seeks to work closely with a wide group of cross-regional Member States to find consensus on new terminology, which would better capture our common commitment to meet women’s health needs around the globe. We believe that women are whole persons with a broad range of health needs, and UN policy should reflect that.

Similarly, the United States is unable to agree to language in Preambular Paragraph 29. The New York Declaration contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with U.S. immigration policy, and the global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty. The United States must therefore dissociate from consensus on this paragraph. Note, however, that the United States still continues to remain engaged in the formal consultations on the draft Program of Action for the Global Compact on Refugees.

With respect to all references to climate change and the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Sendai Framework, and technology transfer, we reiterate our views as set forth in previous U.S. Explanations of Position. We will submit this text for the written record of the session.

We request that this statement be made part of the official record of this meeting.

Thank you.