Explanation of Vote for the Social Development: Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development

Sofija Korac
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
November 15, 2021

Explanation of Vote for the Social Development: Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the Twenty-Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Resolution


The United States strongly endorses the need to promote respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of development. Governments need to respect human rights when promoting all policy goals, including those related to social development, such as food, education, labor, and health. The United States is disappointed that the text of this resolution addresses issues that are not clearly linked to social development or the work of this Committee. We must express our concerns that portions of this resolution inappropriately call upon international financial institutions and other non-UN organizations to take actions, such as providing debt relief, that are beyond the scope of what this body and its resolutions should properly address.

It is our view that the United Nations must respect the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including trade negotiations, and must not involve itself in decisions, interpretations, and actions in other forums, including the World Trade Organization. There should be no expectation or misconception that the United States would understand recommendations made by the UN General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council on these issues to be binding. This includes calls that undermine incentives for innovation, such as technology transfer that is not voluntary and on mutually agreed terms. Additionally, this resolution does not adequately capture all of the carefully negotiated and balanced language in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health of 2001, and instead presents an unbalanced and incomplete picture of that language.

The United States also reiterates that this resolution once again contains an unacceptable reference to “foreign occupation” in preambular paragraph 19.

In reference to operative paragraph 31, the United States believes that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights represent an important global framework. In that regard, we understand the responsibility of business enterprises raised in this resolution to be consistent with the UN Guiding Principles. We further emphasize that the responsibility is not artificially limited to “transnational” or “private” corporations but applies to all kinds and forms of business enterprises regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership, and structure.

Regarding economic and trade issues, it is inappropriate for the UN General Assembly to call on international financial institutions to provide debt relief, as this resolution does in operative paragraph 30.

Further, the demands in operative paragraph 60 that the international community “shall” increase market access are wholly unacceptable in a resolution such as this one. We note that General Assembly resolutions should refrain from using language such as “shall” in reference to action by Member States, in that such terminology is only appropriate with respect to binding texts. In the view of the United States, this language has no standing in this or in any other forum, including in future negotiated documents.

For these, and other reasons, we will call a vote and vote “no” on this resolution.

Thank you, Chairperson.