Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 24, 2020
Thank you, Secretary-General Guterres and President Issoufou for hosting this important conversation.
You know, shame on each of you. I am astonished and I am disgusted by the content of today’s discussion. I am actually really quite ashamed of this Council – members of the Council who took this opportunity to focus on political grudges rather than the critical issue at hand. My goodness. Moreover, I am disappointed on behalf of the people you are trying to reach, by squandering this opportunity for political purposes. President Trump has made it very clear, we will do whatever is right, even if it’s unpopular, because, let me tell you what, this is not a popularity contest. That said, I intend to make my remarks today responsible and responsive to the content of the topic at hand today.
COVID-19 remains a threat to the daily lives and livelihoods of billions around the world, and every life lost, every family harmed, every school closed, every business shuttered, is a reason for sorrow. We, as a global community, must continue the battle, and keep our sights focused keenly on the return of better days.
The United States has been unrelenting in its efforts to combat COVID-19, both at home and abroad. President Trump noted in his address to the 75th General Assembly, our nation launched the most aggressive national mobilization since World War II to address the pandemic.
That has meant huge investments in treatment and care, as well as activating a nationwide vaccine-development effort. Those actions have saved countless lives and hold the prospect of bringing the pandemic to a swift end.
To date, we have also allocated more than $20 billion to benefit the international response, including commitments for vaccine development, therapeutics, and medical infrastructure.
This funding, provided by generous American taxpayers, is saving lives in more than 120 countries around the world. In addition, we are actively supporting the Secretary-General’s call to resource the UN response. The United States has contributed more than $ million to the UN’s response, by far the most of any country to date. And let me just name a few most recently: Niger, $4.6 million, South African, $8.4 million, Indonesia, $5 million, Vietnam, $9.5 million, Tunisia, $600,000.
However, as we continue to outpace available resources, it is not sustainable for any country or handful of countries to meet the lion’s share of these growing needs. The Trump Administration will continue to catalyze the international response to this pandemic, and we encourage others to join us by devoting greater resources to common objectives.
As we continue to mobilize resources, we must also reinforce the Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire as expressed in Security Council Resolution 2532, with the understanding that legitimate and necessary counterterrorism efforts will continue. Faithfully implemented, ceasefires would provide a necessary respite for women, children, and men on the front lines of violence and conflict and thus particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Unfortunately, early signs of compliance in conflict zones have begun to slip, and many countries are actually now experiencing an escalation of violence. We condemn in the strongest possible terms terrorist organizations who have taken advantage of this difficult situation to escalate fighting and violence, and we call upon state sponsors of terror, most notably the Islamic Republic of Iran, to finally and completely cease funding and arming terrorists around the world.
As President Trump clearly stated in his speech before the General Assembly on Tuesday, to chart out a better future, “we most hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.” The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to hide the origins of this virus, minimize its danger, and suppress scientific cooperation transformed a local epidemic into a global pandemic. More importantly, those decisions cost hundreds of thousands of lives around the world. Hundreds of thousands.
The actions of the Chinese Communist Party prove that not all member states are equally committed to public health, transparency, and their international obligations. This fact should deeply trouble all of the responsible nations of the world who are working in good faith to defeat COVID-19 and keep future pandemics from emerging. We must all recommit to the full and rapid sharing of public health data with each other – it is essential from both a containment and a moral perspective.
Equally troubling is the danger posed by the corrupted international organizations. The World Health Organization was for many years considered a center of science over politics, data over bias. That is why the United States was always the single largest funder.
That reputation lies in tatters today after the WHO assisted the Chinese campaign to withhold cooperation and lie to the world. To this day, the world’s scientists still do not have a complete understanding of the origins, characteristics, and spread of the virus – an understanding that only the Chinese Communist Party can provide.
Going forward, the international community must place accountability and transparency at the center of our efforts to address threats to global health.
That lack of independence, transparency, and accountability is why President Trump made the decision for the United States to withdraw from the WHO, and why we will continue to call for reform of that organization while we shift our global health resources to support other, more credible partners and more credible countries.
Colleagues, this pandemic spares us little time to absorb its lessons, but we must try nevertheless. The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt by us all and must be a source of unity, not division. Each of us must commit to work together in transparency and in good faith.
The U.S., the Trump Administration, will continue to lead the way as we always have done, and remain firmly committed to a safer and more secure world.