Explanation of Vote on a Second Committee Resolution on the International Financial System and Development

Danielle Maniscalco
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 30, 2018


Mr. Chairperson, the United States sought to return to consensus this year and we regret that we had to vote against this resolution for the second year in a row. A significant number of the concerns we highlighted last year remained in this year’s resolution because of the inflexibility of the G77. For example, the G77 did not seriously consider biennialization although this particular resolution was the best candidate in light of calls to reduce overlap and duplication.

First, the United States is unable to agree to language that calls for enhancing, ensuring, or strengthening the coherence and consistency of international financial, monetary, and trading systems and policies. This language presumes that the current level of coherence and consistency is suboptimal in some way, and we do not necessarily share this view. In addition, the United States is unable to join consensus on the UN’s attempt in operative paragraphs 2, 9, and 20 to prescribe the appropriate characteristics of international systems that are independent of the UN system. These are not matters on which the UN General Assembly should opine.

Regarding unilateral economic measures, the United States believes that economic sanctions can be an appropriate, effective, and legitimate alternative to the use of force. We believe that each Member State has the sovereign right to determine how it conducts trade with other countries and that this includes restricting trade in certain circumstances. We are well within our rights to use our trade and commercial policy as tools to achieve national security and foreign policy objectives.

With respect to operative paragraph 14, we strongly disagree with the encouragement to provide “flexible, concessional, fast-disbursing, and front-loaded assistance” without regard to the financial sustainability of the institutions, the development impact and effect on poverty reduction of such assistance, or the presence of an appropriate macroeconomic policy framework. This recommendation is not financially sustainable. The concessionality of assistance should be determined by the governance bodies of the IFIs, which should allocate limited concessional resources with reference to income and creditworthiness. Furthermore, this recommendation could be read as encouraging multilateral development banks to refrain from adhering to the high social, environmental, and fiduciary standards that are essential to achieving sustainable development.

The United States also generally opposes the use of the term “illicit financial flows” as this term is vague and has no agreed-upon international definition. In the absence of any common understanding of what constitutes illicit financial flows, the United States understands this term to refer to money or assets derived from specific illegal activities , such as embezzlement, bribery, money laundering, other corrupt practices, and other crimes.

The United States cannot join consensus on the reference to “increasing protectionism and inward-looking policies.” 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.” We do not advocate protectionism, and we will not accepted veiled criticisms of our policies when others are unwilling to do the hard work necessary to deliver on free, fair, and reciprocal trade. We reiterate the points raised in our November 8 statement – the UN is not an appropriate venue for this discussion.

Finally, we would like to refer you back to our statement delivered on November 8, 2018, which details a number of additional concerns also found in this resolution, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the characterization of trade and technology transfer. Thank you.