Explanation of Vote before the Adoption of the UNGA72 Second Committee Resolution on Agriculture Development, Food Security, and Nutrition

Hector Brown
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 28, 2017


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The United States remains committed to promoting agricultural development, food security and nutrition worldwide. Indeed, the United States is the single largest donor to programs promoting global food security. However, we believe this resolution goes beyond addressing needs related to agricultural development, food security, and nutrition and instead expands well beyond the appropriate role of the UN General Assembly.

For instance, the United States cannot support language that seeks to shape or otherwise prejudice discussions in independent organizations such as the World Trade Organization. Specifically, we cannot join consensus on protectionism language on the eve of the Eleventh Ministerial Conference of the WTO, or the stale reference to the Ministerial Declaration of the Tenth Ministerial Conference. WTO-consistent trade remedy measures and enforcement actions taken to protect our economies from the unfair and market-distorting trade practices of others are not “protectionist.” The United States does not advocate protectionism, but we also see no utility in reaffirming stale calls to avoid protectionism, a pledge that others routinely violate. In addition, the United States is unable to join consensus on the General Assembly’s attempt in this resolution to prescribe the characteristics of the WTO. This is not a matter on which the General Assembly should opine.

In addition, the United States cannot support language that calls for greater cooperation and coordination between UN agencies and “international trade organizations.” The WTO is an independent body, and its agenda will be set by its Members.

The United States recognizes that governments wish to pursue policies that contribute to the food security of their population. We believe strongly that, to be successful, those policies must be consistent with relevant international rules and obligations. The United States has consistently supported many important goals of the African Union Agenda 2063, most recently at the U.S.-AU High Level Dialogue held on Nov. 16, 2017 in Washington, and notes that the Agenda includes goals such as improving access to and the quality of education, investing in infrastructure, protecting the environment, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and many other worthy initiatives shared by African countries and the United States. We are concerned, however, 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. We hope to hold further discussions with the AU on this issue.

The United States further cannot support language in the resolution that seeks to promote technology transfer that is not voluntary and on mutually agreed terms. For the United States, any such language will have no standing in future negotiations. The United States continues to oppose language that we believe undermines intellectual property rights.

With regard to this resolution’s references to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and climate change, we addressed our concerns in a General Statement delivered on November 17.

For the above mentioned reasons, the United States is calling a vote and voting “no.”

Thank you.