Statement on Agenda Item 25 (a) ‘Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the 24th session of the GA’

Jason Mack
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 19, 2019


Thank you, Chair.

The United States is disappointed that issues remain in this resolution which are not clearly linked to social development or the work of this Committee. We must express our concerns that portions of this resolution inappropriately call upon international financial institutions and other non-UN organizations to take actions that are beyond the scope of what this resolution should properly address. For these reasons, we are calling for a vote and voting no on this resolution.

The Copenhagen Declaration specifically references the European Court of Human Rights, which has no jurisdiction outside of Europe and is therefore not binding nor does it change customary international law, and cannot be normative or provide a framework for social development.

PP18 contains an unacceptable reference to “foreign occupation.” We are disappointed that certain Member States have sought to politicize development issues at the UN by including “foreign occupation” language in this declaration.

Regarding OP 12, 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.

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 World Trade Organization. There should be no expectation or misconception that the United States would understand recommendations made by the UN General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council on these issues to be binding.

The United States has concerns with paragraph OP17, which supports the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including food, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Food security depends on appropriate domestic action by governments, including regulatory and market reforms, that is consistent with international commitments. Therefore, we do not accept any reading of this resolution that would suggest that States have particular extraterritorial obligations arising from any concept of a “right to food.”

In OP 28, the United States believes that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights represent an important global framework. In that regard we emphasize that the responsibility of business enterprises is not artificially limited to “transnational” or “private” corporations, but applies to all kinds and forms of business enterprises regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership, and structure.

We also note that much of the trade-related language in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda 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.

The demands in operative paragraph 55 that the international community “shall” increase market access are wholly unacceptable in a resolution such as this one. We note that General Assembly resolutions should refrain from using language such as “shall” in reference to action by member states, in that such terminology is only appropriate with respect to binding texts. In the view of the United States, this language has no standing in this or in any other forum, including in future negotiated documents.

We note that the term “equitable” is used in multiple contexts in this resolution. While the United States seeks fair and reciprocal trade, open investment environments, transparent agreements between nations, and improved connectivity, we must avoid any unintended interpretation of the term “equitable” that implies a subjective assessment of fairness that, among other things, may lead to discriminatory practices.

We addressed our other concerns on topics, such as the 2030 Agenda and the right to education, in our General Statement, which we delivered on November 7.

We ask that the entirety of this statement be reflected in the record and reports of the meeting and call upon all delegations to vote against this resolution. Thank you, Chair.