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

Dylan Lang
U.S. Adviser to the Third Committee
New York, New York
November 10, 2022


Thank you, Chairperson.

The United States is firmly committed to the promotion and advancement of global development efforts, including the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The U.S. government collaborates with developing countries, other donor countries, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector in order to alleviate poverty and support development efforts across all dimensions. Our commitment is reaffirmed with our strong support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We see a strong link between human rights and sustainable development, as reflected in the 2030 Agenda’s vision of “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality, and non-discrimination; of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity; and of equal opportunity permitting the full realization of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity.”

However, we note that the “right to development” discussed in this resolution is not recognized in any of the core UN human rights conventions, does not have an agreed international meaning, and, unlike with human rights, is not recognized as a universal right held and enjoyed by individuals and which every individual may demand from his or her own government. Indeed, 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.

Additionally, the United States cannot support the inclusion of the phrase “to expand and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation” and “people-centered development of the people, by the people, and for the people.” This language is promoted by a single Member State and does not have an internationally understood definition. 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 or implies that States can identify the needs of groups rather than fulfilling their human rights obligations for individuals.

In the 2030 Agenda, we all made a commitment to leave no one behind, and this integrally means fulfilling all our obligations under international human rights law. It should also be noted that the United States supports equitable access to safe, effective, affordable and quality essential medicines and vaccines for addressing COVID-19 in a manner that promotes and provides incentives for innovations. Additionally, the United States recognizes the role extensive immunization against COVID-19 plays as a global public good; we do not recognize the medicines and vaccines themselves as being global public goods.

We underscore our position that trade language, negotiated or adopted by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council or under their auspices, has no relevance for U.S. trade policy, for our trade obligations or commitments, or for the agenda at the World Trade Organization, including discussions or negotiations in that forum. While the UN and WTO share common interests, they have different roles, rules, and memberships. Similarly, this includes calls to adopt approaches that may undermine incentives for innovation, such as technology transfer that is not both voluntary and on mutually agreed terms.

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

Thank you, Chairperson.