Explanation of Position on a UN General Assembly Plenary Resolution on Education for Democracy

Gregory McElwain
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
December 13, 2018


Chair, the United States believes that education is transformational for individuals and societies, and that it creates pathways to better health, economic growth, a sustainable environment, and peaceful, democratic societies. On November 15, 2018, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced a new education policy aimed at focusing resources on programs that produce measurable learning outcomes for students. The new policy also recognizes the important role of non-state actors, including civil society organizations, faith-based and charitable entities, and the private sector, in providing educational opportunities that help students gain access to the education and skills they need to be productive members of society.

While the United States joins consensus on the “Education for Democracy” resolution, we do so with the express understanding that when this resolution acknowledges the importance of taking measures to ensure various aspects of education, it does so in terms that are mindful of and consistent with the governance framework for education in the United States and our respective federal, state, and local authorities.

We see significant variation in the capacity and effectiveness of many nations’ governments in providing high-quality education. In many instances, non-state schools and providers, which often include faith-based and charitable organizations, are stepping in to fill gaps that would otherwise prevent access to education for many children and youth. Currently, in low-income countries, non-state schools enroll nearly 14 percent of primary school-age students, and in lower-middle income countries, that enrollment rate for primary school-age students rises to 24 percent. The United States believes there is both a need and an opportunity to engage with non-state schools, including those of faith-based and charitable entities, to help to ensure access to quality education for children and youth in developing countries.

We further understand the reference in the resolution to “internationally agreed development goals” to refer to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the United States’ position is articulated in the following Explanation of Position on that document.

With regard to references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in this resolution, we addressed our concerns regarding such references in a general explanation of position delivered on November 8 in the Second Committee and in an explanation of position in the General Assembly regarding the resolution entitled “Sport as an Enabler of Sustainable Development” under agenda item 12, adopted on December 3.