Explanation of Vote and Position Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) High-Level Segment

Jason Lawrence
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 20, 2017


Good afternoon. As stated yesterday when the Ministerial Declaration was adopted by the HLPF, I would like to thank the co-facilitators, Ambassador Rattray and Ambassador Kickert, for their efforts throughout the negotiations. We would also like to thank all of our colleagues and other member states for the depth, substance, and soundness of our discussion throughout the negotiating process.

We take this opportunity to explain our votes on the Ministerial Declaration for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and underscore that this non-binding document does not create rights or affect obligations under international law.

The United States called a vote on paragraph four, which contains an unacceptable reference to “foreign occupation.” We are very disappointed we were unable to reach a common position with our partners and that, yet once again, certain Member States have sought to politicize development issues at the UN.

The United States regrets that it had to vote no on Paragraph 21. The United States does not view the UN as the appropriate body to opine on the WTO and does not support references to WTO issues in UN documents. The United States also has substantive concerns with this paragraph. Further, we do not find it acceptable for UN members to comment on the membership of another international organization, especially one that is independent of the UN system.

We would also like to take this opportunity to make important points of clarification on other areas of the Ministerial Declaration. In regard to paragraph one, the United States recognizes the 2030 Agenda as a global framework for sustainable development and that the high-level political forum plays a central role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. As our policies are currently under review, we cannot affirm all aspects of the 2030 Agenda. We emphasize that countries must work towards implementation in accordance with their own national circumstances and priorities. We hope that we can all collectively advance sustainable development while applying the principles of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.

The United States dissociates from consensus on the portions of paragraph seven related to climate change and the Paris Agreement. The United States recognizes that climate change is a complex global challenge, and we affirm our strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs. We note President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement but indicated openness to reengaging in the Agreement on terms more favorable to the American people. In the meantime, we are immediately ceasing the implementation of our current nationally determined contribution. As to the portion of the paragraph dealing with Disaster Risk Reduction, the United States has been and continues to be a strong supporter of Disaster Risk Reduction to reduce loss of lives and social and economic impacts of disasters caused by all types of natural hazards including geological and hydrometeorological hazards.

We are disappointed that the issue of trafficking in persons is not referenced in the Ministerial Declaration, and is most notably lacking in the paragraph that addresses violence and discrimination against women and girls. Combating trafficking in persons and supporting gender equality are high priorities for the United States. We were also disappointed to see that women and girls were not referenced earlier in the Ministerial Declaration, particularly as women and girls are a key focus of the HLPF this year.

With these clarifications, we joined consensus on the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Thank you.