Statement on Agenda Item 70 (b) ‘The Right to Food’

Daniel Thompson
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 18, 2019


Thank you, Chairperson.

This Committee is meeting at a time when the international community is confronting one of the most serious food-security emergencies in modern history. Hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row, after a decade of progress. Over 35 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, and Yemen are facing severe food insecurity, and in the case of Yemen, potential famine. The United States remains fully engaged and committed to addressing these conflict-related crises.

This resolution rightfully acknowledges the hardships millions of people are facing, and importantly calls on States to support the emergency humanitarian appeals of the UN. However, the resolution also contains many unbalanced, inaccurate, and unwise provisions the United States cannot support. This resolution does not articulate meaningful solutions for preventing hunger and malnutrition, or avoiding their devastating consequences.

The United States supports the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including food, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Moreover, we note that as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provides, each state party undertakes to take the steps set out in Article 2(1) “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights.”

The United States is concerned that the concept of “food sovereignty” could justify protectionism or other restrictive import or export policies that will have negative consequences for food security, sustainability, and income growth. Improved access to local, regional, and global markets helps ensure food is available to the people who need it most and smooths price volatility. Food security depends on appropriate domestic action by governments, including regulatory and market reforms, that is consistent with international commitments.

We also do not accept any reading of this resolution or related documents that would suggest that States have particular extraterritorial obligations arising from any concept of a “right to food,” which we do not recognize and has no definition in international law.

For these reasons, we request a vote and we will vote against this resolution.

Thank you, Chairperson.