Explanation of Vote on a Resolution on the Right to Food

Mordica Simpson
Advisor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 17, 2020


Thank you, Chairperson.

This Committee is meeting at a time when the international community is confronting one of the most serious food-security emergencies in modern history. Hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row, after a decade of progress. And now, for communities already experiencing poverty and hunger, the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting lives by harming how people provide for themselves and feed their families – both today and long after the pandemic subsides. More than 35 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, and Yemen are facing severe food insecurity exacerbated by the global pandemic, and in the case of Yemen, potential famine. The United States remains fully engaged and committed to addressing these complex crises.

This resolution rightfully acknowledges the hardships millions of people are facing, and importantly calls on States to support the emergency humanitarian appeals of the UN. However, the resolution also contains many unbalanced, inaccurate, and unwise provisions the United States cannot support. This resolution does not articulate meaningful solutions for preventing hunger and malnutrition or avoiding their devastating consequences.

The United States is concerned that the concept of “food sovereignty” could justify protectionism or other restrictive import or export policies that will have negative consequences for food security, sustainability, and income growth. Improved access to local, regional, and global markets helps ensure food is available to the people who need it most and smooths price volatility. Food security depends on appropriate domestic action by governments, including regulatory and market reforms, that is consistent with international commitments.

We also do not accept any reading of this resolution or related documents that would suggest that States have particular extraterritorial obligations arising from any concept of a “right to food,” which we do not recognize and has no definition in international law.

For these reasons, we request a vote and we will vote against this resolution.