Remarks at a UN General Assembly Informal Meeting on the Report of the Secretary-General Entitled “Our Common Agenda”

Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 25, 2021


Mr. President, the United States extends its appreciation to you for convening today’s discussion on the Secretary-General’s report “Our Common Agenda”.

The U.S. views the “Common Agenda” as an important initiative that can guide the deployment of the United Nations’ limited time and limited resources to address the greatest and most pressing global needs, including facilitating and accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Many of the themes that run through the Agenda are also shared U.S. priorities and values. The United States was built on the principles of freedom, equality, opportunity, and a belief in the universal human rights of all individuals. We continue to assess that representative democracy is the best hope for nations to unleash their full human potential and live in peace and prosperity – so we were pleased to see these themes and concepts embodied in the Agenda.

We similarly support the attention that the report pays to the root causes of conflict and to human rights, including the need for states to uphold their international obligations and commitments. We also appreciate the repeated emphasis to include all relevant non-state stakeholders in multilateral engagements and multilateral processes in order to improve the outcomes.

Women and girls play a vital role in peace, security, and economic growth, and we were pleased also to see this reflected in the Agenda. We strongly agree – and believe that empirical evidence supports – that women’s equal and meaningful participation, leadership, economic inclusion, and gender-balanced decision-making lead to better, more equitable, and sustainable outcomes for all of us. We do believe though that such an inclusive approach must also extend to other historically marginalized and vulnerable populations, including racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ persons.

The COVID-19 pandemic – as many have noted – has posed unprecedented challenges; it has unfortunately deepened inequalities and increased fragility. So, we were also pleased to see that the Agenda focuses on global public health. Strengthening global health systems is a priority for the United States, and we look forward to partnering with the Secretary-General, with WHO Director General Tedros, and other UN partners in this effort. We are keen to shift away from reacting to crises and toward fostering a sustainable approach that advances global health and health security, and prevents future health-related catastrophes.

We also welcome the report’s commitment to set ambitious climate goals and implement measures for climate adaptation and resilience. Climate change is a global crisis – as President Biden has said – that requires a global response.

At the same time, there are other aspects of the report that we believe would benefit from greater detail. For example, the report in parts blurs the lines on individual rights versus states’ responsibilities related to the rule of law and human rights, and we would welcome additional clarity on that front.

Additionally, Mr. President, this ambitious agenda may require – to be honest – significant resources. We would welcome additional information on the resource requirements. We expect that discussions of the Agenda will include consideration of how the Agenda can leverage existing UN institutions and resources, as well as complement and advance needed reforms to ensure that the UN remains – as others have said – fit for purpose, effective, and efficient.

In closing, I thank the Secretary-General on behalf of the United States for his leadership, and you, Mr. President, for convening this plenary. We look forward to engaging with the United Nations and all our fellow members on the Agenda’s proposals.

Thank you.