Explanation of Position on the Adoption of the Second Committee Resolution Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review

Dani Maniscalco
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 8, 2020


The United States is pleased to vote in favor of this resolution but dissociates from OP10. We would like to thank Switzerland, as facilitator, for conducting the negotiations with fairness, flexibility, exceptional expertise, and a focused commitment to a consensus-based outcome. We would also like to thank all colleagues for their constructive engagement in a difficult negotiation process.

Through this resolution, Member States have set important strategic guidance and expectations for the repositioned UN development system and the Resident Coordinator system. The resolution reiterates the importance of the UN’s development work, which must be carried out with the utmost transparency, impartiality, accountability, and respect for human rights.

The United States supports national ownership and leadership in setting a country’s development goals and priorities, and we expect UN entities to uphold UN values and principles in their work to support national development efforts. During humanitarian crises, it is important for the UN and national governments to embrace humanitarian principles and prioritize addressing the needs of affected populations.

The United States views these principles and orientation as essential for the UN to maintain its important role in assisting countries to build national capacities for sustainable development; self-reliance; and resilience in addressing conflicts, humanitarian crises, and complex emergencies.

The resolution also recognizes the importance of several system-wide planning and implementation instruments – the Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, the Management Accountability Framework, and system-wide evaluation – to support the work of the Resident Coordinators and UN country teams. We would like to emphasize the importance of broad stakeholder consultations at the country level, including on Cooperation Frameworks, which serve as the basis for agency-specific country program documents, for which the agencies are accountable to their respective governing bodies. System-wide accountability at all levels is essential to ensure these policy and program documents receive widest support, abide by international standards and norms and UN principles, and, more importantly, produce tangible results to benefit the people on the ground.

We expect the UN development system to continue to improve the Management Accountability Framework, adapting it to the operational environment on the ground to ensure that newly empowered Resident Coordinators’ leadership authority is balanced with UN agency leadership, initiative, and flexibility. As UN representatives, the Resident Coordinators are accountable for upholding UN principles and values, including human rights, in their work.

The United States wishes to reiterate our views regarding the Funding Compact and redesign of UN’s regional coordination mechanisms, as expressed earlier this year during ECOSOC negotiations. On the Funding Compact, we are pleased the resolution notes its voluntary nature. While we largely agree with its objective to encourage UN development system agencies to work more closely together to achieve greater mission coherence, we have concerns about several funding targets, as well as a lack of program effectiveness and cost-savings indicators.

On the Secretary-General’s regional proposal, it is necessary to continue to discuss key aspects, including the Regional Collaborative Platforms’ structure and function and the Regional Economic Commissions’ roles to ensure they contribute to the effective work of the new Resident Coordinator system and agencies without adding new bureaucratic layers and costs.

We support the Secretary-General’s proposal for a system-wide evaluation office and look forward to receiving further information and assurances of its independence and effectiveness.

Our concerns regarding the “right to development” are longstanding and well known, as there is no agreed international meaning. Work is needed to make it consistent with human rights, which the international community recognizes as universal rights held and enjoyed by individuals – and which every individual may demand from his or her own government.

Regarding the use of the phrase “energy access and transition”, we recognize when discussing transitions to clean energy there is more than one pathway and more than one outcome. Different countries will pursue different energy policies and mixes, depending on national circumstances and priorities. Pursuing a competitive and market-based approach means that no route to any transition should be unduly prioritized or foreclosed.

Regarding references to official development assistance, we would like to note that we believe per capita income and creditworthiness should be the primary criteria to assess development and graduation readiness, and we do not support the development of multi-dimensional eligibility criteria for concessional finance that could be subject to manipulation and political influence.

Regarding preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, UN mechanisms should be reviewed and further strengthened in the development and humanitarian contexts. Recent allegations of widespread sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment in the DRC, and public reporting around the UN’s failure to protect whistleblowers indicate the UN is not doing enough and more needs to be done.

Regarding the African Union’s Agenda 2063, we value our partnership with African Member States and endorse the overall goals of Agenda 2063 as a blueprint for peace, stability, and sustainable development for Africa. We have been a leading advocate for Africa and remains committed to supporting Member States’ efforts toward self-reliance. However, we are concerned by language committing to reducing food imports which could have a negative impact on food security and may not be consistent with trade obligations of African Members of the WTO.

Regarding our position on the interpretations of universal health coverage, the United States aspires to help increase access to high-quality health care, both for improved health outcomes and for better preparedness as we see with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as was made clear in the 2019 UN General Assembly Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage, it is important that each country should develop its own approach to achieving Universal Health Coverage within its own context. Another critical aspect of successful Universal Health Coverage we wish to highlight is the necessary role of partnerships with the private sector, civil society organizations, including faith-based organizations, and other stakeholders. As we said at the time of the adoption of the Political Declaration, patient control and access to high-quality, people-centered care are key. We also refer you to our statement delivered at the time of the adoption of the political declaration and in Third Committee on November 13.

Regarding references to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the United States is committed to promoting women’s equality and to empowering women and girls. We agree with many other countries representing every region in the world, as we jointly stated in the Geneva Consensus Declaration, that there is no international “right to abortion,” nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion. The United States does not support abortion in our global health assistance. Further, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and their reports, we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning. Therefore, we do not support abortion in our global health assistance, nor do we recognize references to non-UN negotiated conferences, summits, or their respective outcome documents. We believe that the General Assembly should only include references to conferences and summits clearly mandated through UN modalities resolutions, such as this year’s Beijing+25, and other ones, such as the Nairobi summit, have no direct or indirect place in any UN resolutions.

Lastly, we have addressed and explained our concerns and positions regarding a number of additional issues in this resolution through our Second Committee general statement delivered on November 18. These issues include: the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement, climate change, technology sharing and transfer, Official Development Assistance, and the concept of “building back better.”