Explanation of Vote on a Third Committee Resolution on a Right to Development

Mordica Simpson
ECOSOC Advisor
United States
New York City
November 15, 2018


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The United States is firmly committed to the promotion and advancement of global development efforts. The U.S. government collaborates with developing countries, other donor countries, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector in order to alleviate poverty and aid development efforts across all dimensions.

We recognize the significant link between human rights and development. In the words of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, “development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms” are “mutually reinforcing.” However, the United States maintains its long-standing concerns over the existence of a “right to development.”

The “right to development,” which is not recognized in any of the core UN human rights conventions, does not have an agreed international meaning. Furthermore, work is needed to make it consistent with human rights, which the international community recognizes as universal rights held and enjoyed by individuals and which every individual may demand from his or her own government.

Also, we continue to be concerned that the “right to development” identified within the text protects states instead of individuals. States must implement their human rights obligations, regardless of external factors, including the availability of development and other assistance. Lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights. To this end, we continually encourage all states to respect their human rights obligations and commitments, regardless of their levels of development.

Therefore, we continue to oppose reference to the “right to development” within this text and other resolutions presented in the General Assembly this session.

Additionally, the United States cannot support the inclusion of the phrase “to expand and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation.” This phrase has been promoted interchangeably with “win-win cooperation” by a single Member State to insert the domestic policy agenda of its Head of State in UN documents. None of us should support incorporating political language targeting a domestic political audience into multilateral documents – nor should we support language that undermines the fundamental principles of sustainable development.

Due to our long-standing concerns with the existence of the “right to development” within existing human rights law, we have called a vote will vote “no” on this resolution, and we encourage other delegations to do the same.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.