Ambassador Christopher Henzel
U.S. Senior Adviser for Middle East and North Africa Affairs
New York, New York
October 10, 2023
Remarks at a Second Committee General Discussion on Sustainable Development, Noting the Recent Hamas Attacks on Israel and Emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First, I must reiterate that the United States is outraged by and condemns unequivocally the appalling attack on Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza.
As President Biden stated, “The United States stands with the people of Israel in the face of this terrorist assault.” Terrorism is never justified, and Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop.
We reiterate our ironclad support for Israel’s exercise of its inherent right to defend itself in the face of this unjustified attack.
These terrorist attacks against Israel by Hamas have serious consequences for the advancement of sustainable development. As Secretary Blinken stated, “There are two paths before the region. There’s the path of greater integration, greater stability, including, critically, making sure that Israelis and Palestinians resolve their differences or there’s the path of terror that Hamas is engaged on, that has not improved the lives of a single person. On the contrary, it’s destroyed lives, including Palestinian lives.”
Turning to sustainable development more broadly, the United States remains firmly committed to the SDGs.
Since January 2021, the United States has invested more than $100 billion to boost development progress around the world, working to promote food security, expand education, strengthen health care systems, and fight disease.
The promise of the 2030 Agenda cannot be met by focusing on only a few of the goals and ignoring others, such as those related to human rights and environmental sustainability. For example, SDG 5 – gender equality – is inexorably linked to economic growth, education, and reduced inequalities.
SDG 2, zero hunger, is another example of the integrated nature of the SDGs. Food security is fundamental to ending poverty, supporting healthy populations, and advancing quality education. The United States has proudly committed $17.5 billion to address global food insecurity since January 2021.
And of course, another linchpin is SDG 16, focused on advancing peace, justice, and strong institutions.
We cannot achieve the SDGs if we don’t also tackle the climate crisis. In the United States, the Inflation Reduction Act represents the strongest action on climate in U.S. history – sending an unequivocal signal of America’s commitment to meet our ambitious 1.5-degree Celsius goal under the Paris Agreement.
The United States has a strong track record of investment across all 17 SDGs, but progress requires partnership. We look forward to working in partnership during Second Committee and across the UN system and with other multilateral institutions to continue to reinforce the SDGs and make progress towards sustainable development.