General Statement at Third Committee Meeting on the 2030 Agenda

Laurie Shestack Phipps
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs
New York City
November 20, 2017


Mr. Chair, as this Committee continues to take action on the resolutions negotiated during this session, we take this opportunity to make important points of clarification on some of the language we see reflected across multiple resolutions. We underscore that General Assembly resolutions, and many of the outcome documents referenced therein, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, are non-binding documents that do not create rights or obligations under international law, nor bind states to any financial commitments.

Regarding the reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda, the United States recognizes the Agenda as a global framework for sustainable development that can help countries work toward global peace and prosperity. We applaud the call for shared responsibility in the Agenda and emphasize that all countries have a role to play in achieving its vision. We also strongly support national responsibility stressed in the Agenda. However, each country has its own development priorities, and we emphasize that countries must work toward implementation in accordance with their own national policies and priorities.

We also highlight our mutual recognition, in paragraph 58 of the 2030 Agenda, that implementation of this Agenda must respect and be without prejudice to the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including negotiations, and does not prejudge or serve as precedent for decisions and actions underway in other forums. For example, this Agenda does not represent a commitment to provide new market access for goods or services. This Agenda also does not interpret or alter any WTO agreement or decision, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, TRIPS Agreement.

We take this opportunity to make important points of clarification regarding the reaffirmation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Specifically, we note that much of the trade-related language in the AAAA outcome document has been overtaken by events since July 2015 and is immaterial. Indeed, some of the intervening events happened just months after the release of the outcome document. Therefore, any reaffirmation of the outcome document has no standing for ongoing work and negotiations involving trade.

The United States notes that our President announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as the U.S. is eligible to do so, unless we can identify terms that are more favorable to American businesses, workers, and taxpayers. While our climate policy is under review, we must note our concerns with language related to the Paris Agreement across many of the resolutions this committee is considering. We recognize that climate change is a complex global challenge and affirm our strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs.

This statement applies to all resolutions on which the United States joins consensus during this session of the Third Committee, including several applicable resolutions we intend to or already have cosponsored. For the sake of brevity, we will not name all of these resolutions here but instead we will supply a list of these resolutions to the Third Committee Secretariat separately. The document numbers of these resolutions are also indicated in the heading of this statement.

Furthermore, the United States understands that the General Assembly’s resolutions do not change the current state of conventional or customary international law. We do not read any resolution acted upon by this Committee to imply that states must join or implement obligations under international instruments to which they are not a party. We understand abbreviated references to certain human rights to be shorthand for the accurate terms used in the applicable international treaty, and we maintain our longstanding positions on those rights. The United States understands that any reaffirmation of prior documents applies only to those states that affirmed them initially, and, in the case of international treaties or conventions, to those States who are party. Finally, “welcoming” a report should not be understood as acceptance of all assertions, conclusions, or recommendations contained therein.

We request that this statement, along with the specific list of resolutions below, be made part of the official record of this meeting and incorporated by reference for subsequent meetings where all relevant resolutions are adopted.

Thank you.

Relevant resolutions covered by this statement:

A.I. 27 A/C.3/72/L.10/Rev.1 Persons with Albinism

A.I. 27(a) A/C.3/72/L.12/Rev.1 Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the 24th special session of the General Assembly

A.I. 27(b) A/C.3/72/L.7/Rev.1 Promoting social integration through social inclusion

A/C.3/72/L.13/Rev.1 Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing

A/C.3/72/L.14/Rev.1 Follow-up to the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond

A/C.3/72/L.15/Rev.1 Policies and programs involving youth

A.I. 28 A/C.3/72/L.17 /Rev.1 Violence against women migrant workers

A/C.3/72/L.22/Rev.1 Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas

A.I. 64 A/C.3/72/L.61 Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa

A.I. 68(a) A/C.3/72/L.21/Rev.1 Rights of the child

A.I. 70(a) A/C.3/72/L.56/Rev.1 Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

A.I. 72(a) A/C.3/72/L.18/Rev.1 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto: Situation of women and girls with disabilities

A.I. 72(b) A/C.3/72/L.26/Rev.1 The right to development

A/C.3/72/L.28/Rev.1 Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights

A/C.3/72/L.29/Rev.1 Human rights and cultural diversity

A/C.3/72/L.31 Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order

A/C.3/72/L.32/Rev.1 The right to food

A/C.3/72/L.39/Rev.1 The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

A/C.3/72/L.43/Rev.1 Protection of Migrants

A/C.3/72/L.45 National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights

A/C.3/72/L.46/Rev.1 Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons

A/C.3/72/L.50/Rev.1 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

A/C.3/72/L.51/Rev.1 Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities

A/C.3/72/L.52 Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights

A.I. 107 A/C.3/72/L.6/Rev.1 Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons

A/C.3/72/L.11/Rev.1 Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity