Remarks at a UN Fourth Committee General Debate and Adoption of the Resolution on Questions on Information

Andrea Stanford
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 21, 2019


Good afternoon. On behalf of the U.S. delegation I would like to first extend a warm welcome to Under Secretary General Melissa Fleming. We look forward to working with you and your team in the months ahead.

Mr. Chairman, I would also like to thank you for bringing the adoption of this important resolution.  We take this opportunity to make points of clarification on language contained within the resolution.

We reaffirm the conclusions of the Group of Governmental Experts, in its 2013 and 2015 reports that international law, and in particular the Charter of the United Nations, is applicable and essential to maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment.
Regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we take this opportunity to underscore that the 2030 Agenda is nonbinding and does not create or affect rights or obligations under international law, nor does it create any new financial commitments.

The United States recognizes the 2030 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, including national responsibility, in the 2030 Agenda and emphasize that all countries have a role to play in achieving its vision. The 2030 Agenda recognizes that each country must work toward implementation in accordance with its own national policies and priorities.

The United States also underscores that paragraph 18 of the 2030 Agenda calls for countries to implement the Agenda in a manner that is consistent with the rights and obligations of States under international law. We also highlight our mutual recognition in paragraph 58 that 2030 Agenda implementation 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.

Turning to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, these documents contain goals and objectives that are inconsistent and incompatible with U.S. law and policy and the interests of the American people. The United States did not attend the Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration, and we called for a vote, and voted against the Compact when it was presented to the UN General Assembly for endorsement on December 19, 2018. We therefore dissociate from operative paragraph 9. We maintain the sovereign right to facilitate or restrict access to our territory, in accordance with our national laws and policies, subject to our obligations under international law.

Finally, we dissociate from operative paragraph 65 because of our long-standing concerns related to the premise 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, more work is needed to make a “right to development” consistent with the UN human rights conventions, which the international community recognize as universal rights held and enjoyed by individuals for which every individual may demand from his or her own government‎.

Thank you.