Remarks at the Adoption of the SAMOA Pathway Political Declaration

Courtney Nemroff
Acting U.S. ECOSOC Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 10th, 2019


On behalf of the U.S. government, I would like to extend our thanks to co-facilitators Ambassador Prasad, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji, and Ambassador Nason, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Ireland for their facilitation of the Samoa Pathway mid-term review. The United States appreciated the opportunity to participate in these important discussions on September 27 during High-level Week.

Furthermore, we understand the unique circumstances facing the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and are committed to working with them to tackle global and regional challenges, including promoting regional security and stability, advancing sustainable growth, addressing environmental challenges, responding to natural disasters, and strengthening our people-to-people ties. We particularly stand with the people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as they recover from Hurricane Dorian and are proud to have provided approaching $34 million in immediate relief after the storm.

The United States has a long history of working with SIDS and looks forward to continuing our fruitful cooperation in the years to come. The United States supports nearly every UN-designated small island developing state that is eligible to receive Official Development Assistance. Over the past five years, net U.S. bilateral ODA to SIDS has amounted to a total of $3.2 billion. Notably, on the margins of UNGA high level week, Secretary of State Pompeo announced over $100 million in new U.S. support to the Pacific Island Countries, in addition to the $350 million budget that U.S. Departments and Agencies already invest annually to promote self-reliance and humanitarian response in the Pacific region.

We take this opportunity to make important points of clarification on some of the language contained in this political declaration. We underscore that many of the outcome documents referenced in this declaration, 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 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 forum. 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.

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 Addis outcome document has been overtaken by events since July 2015; therefore, it is immaterial, and our reaffirmation of the outcome document has no standing for ongoing work and negotiations that involve trade.

With respect to the Paris Agreement, Mr. President, and climate change language, the United States reaffirms its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement at the earliest opportunity. Therefore, the Paris Agreement and climate change language is without prejudice to U.S. positions. We affirm our support for promoting economic growth and improving energy security while protecting the environment.

With respect to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report reference in the declaration, we note that, as the United States has already conveyed to the IPCC, acceptance of the report and approval of its Summary for Policymakers by the IPCC does not imply endorsement of the specific findings or underlying contents of the report by the United States. Therefore, the United States does not concur with the references to the IPCC in the resolution, and that language is without prejudice to U.S. positions.

The United States reiterates our views on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction from the U.S. Explanation of Position delivered in 2015. We strongly support disaster risk-reduction initiatives designed to reduce loss of life and the social and economic impacts of disasters. This assistance helps increase preparedness and promotes greater resilience for everyone.

With respect to references to the New Urban Agenda included in this Political Declaration, the United States notes that each Member State has the sovereign right to determine how it conducts trade with other countries and that this includes restricting trade in certain circumstances. Economic sanctions, whether unilateral or multilateral, can be a successful means of achieving foreign policy objectives. In cases where the United States has applied sanctions, we have used them with specific objectives in mind, including as a means to promote a return to rule of law or democratic systems, to insist on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, or to prevent threats to international security. We are within our rights to deploy our trade and commercial policy as tools to achieve our objectives. Targeted economic sanctions can be an appropriate, effective, and legitimate alternative to the use of force.

The United States enjoys strong and growing trade relationships across the globe. We welcome efforts to bolster those relationships, increase economic cooperation, and drive prosperity to all of our peoples through free, fair, and reciprocal trade. However, as President Trump stated to the 73rd UN General Assembly on September 25, 2018, the United States will act in its sovereign interest, including on trade matters. The United States does not take our trade policy direction from the UN.

It is our view that the UN must respect the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including trade negotiations, and must not involve itself in decisions and actions in other forums, including at the WTO. The UN is not the appropriate venue for these discussions, and there should be no expectation or misconception that the United States would understand recommendations made by the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council on these issues to be binding. This includes calls that undermine incentives for innovation, such as technology transfer that is not both voluntary and on mutually agreed terms.

Regarding preambular paragraph 22, Mr. President, as well as operative paragraph 30 G, according to publicly available data, we have seen a rise in correspondent bank payment volumes and in remittances, with access to correspondent services for most regions remaining stable. However, we have also seen some countries contend with a narrowing of their opportunities to access the international payments system.

We would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of strengthening anti money laundering and countering financing for terrorism controls for the SIDS. Such improvements will not only contribute to an environment in which access to correspondent services is less difficult to procure, but also mitigate the risk that any funds derived from remittances might contribute to the erosion of good governance or security.

With regards to preambular paragraphs 19 and 20, and operative paragraph 30 E and F, regarding official development assistance, the proper forum to discuss eligibility measures is the Boards of the Multilateral Development Banks and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. We do not accept the UN as the appropriate forum for determining eligibility for, and allocation of, these resources.

On operative paragraphs 30 K and O, the United States believes that women should have equal access to health care. We remain committed to the principles laid out in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and their reports, as agreed upon by the UN General Assembly. As made clear over many years, there was international consensus that these documents do not create new international rights, including any “right” to abortion. The United States fully supports maternal and child health and informed and voluntary access to family planning. We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our global health assistance.

Regarding operative paragraphs 30 N, S, and T, disaster-related funds have been proposed under the loss and damage negotiations at the UNFCCC. The United States has opposed these proposals as they imply liability for the impact of disasters allegedly caused by emission of greenhouse gases in developed countries. The United States does not support the creation of a new financial instrument with unproven effectiveness that developed countries would subsequently be called upon to fund.

Thank you, Mr. President.