U.S. Statement at the General Debate of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 9, 2020


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

To start, I wish to thank you, Ambassador Rai, for your steadfast leadership of the Second Committee, and the Vice Chairs for their commitment to the planning process in such extraordinary circumstances.

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest challenges we have faced since the creation of the United Nations. The Committee’s theme appropriately reflects the momentous task before us.

Before addressing these challenges, it’s important to mark this morning’s Nobel Committee selection of the World Food Program as the recipient of its 2020 Peace Prize.

There could not have been a better choice. WFP assisted nearly 100 million women, children, and men last year, and its operations have long been a model for the humanitarian community. WFP is often the first agency to arrive in conflict-torn communities or those devastated by natural disaster, and stays until those communities have the capacity and resilience to feed themselves. This week’s vicious attack on a WFP caravan in South Sudan serves as a reminder that the brave women and men on the front lines deserve our praise and the recognition shown by the Nobel Committee.

Since the World Food Program was established, the United States has been its most stalwart supporter. In recent years, that support has exceeded 40% of total WFP resources. The American people are proud to provide those in crisis with the help they need to pursue a more secure future. Our sincerest congratulations to my fellow American, WFP Executive Director David Beasley, and the entire WFP family.

The United States is also leading the global response to the pandemic. As the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian and health assistance, we remain committed in our support for developing countries. We have allocated $20.5 billion in foreign assistance to combat the pandemic. This builds upon decades of U.S. investment in life-saving global health and humanitarian assistance.

Due to this pandemic, we are also facing an unprecedented global economic crisis. Nothing less than a judicious and holistic response is required.

Principles matter more than ever: sound policy, good governance, transparency, and the rule of law. These are fundamental for instilling confidence at all levels of the economy and enabling the private sector to drive a sustainable economic recovery.

A critical short-term step is to fully implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, or DSSI, and extend the initiative into 2021. The United States continues to implement the DSSI across all our export credit and development finance agencies, already deferring approximately $150 million in eligible debt service payments from the most vulnerable countries.

It is essential that all official G20 and Paris Club creditor governments do the same in a fully transparent manner as we all look to consider an extension of the program.

It is regrettable that some countries continue to classify large state-owned, government-controlled financial institutions as commercial lenders and not as official bilateral creditors, reducing the impact of DSSI for developing countries.

Mr. Chair, we must also use this opportunity to build more inclusive economies. According to U.S. experts, annual global GDP could increase by as much as $7.7 trillion if countries address legal reforms to increase women’s ability to access institutions, build credit, own and manage property, travel freely, and work in the same jobs and sectors as men. The United States is leading here with our W-GDP initiative. A more resilient recovery means women have the power to fulfill their true potential.

To work towards achieving a more resilient recovery, we must focus on private sector-led solutions to this crisis. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, has, since the start of the pandemic approved $4.6 billion in new investments. This financing will catalyze investment that stabilizes communities across the world and prepares them to thrive in the years ahead.

As part of our effort to fill the gap in infrastructure investment, the United States is working with other countries and partners to ensure that development projects and finance adhere to international standards and best practices. Transparency and accountability are “must haves” that underpin good governance and fosters a resilient, robust, and lasting recovery.

During this time of crisis, uncertainty, and reflection on the UN’s first 75 years, it is imperative that we uphold the integrity of the United Nations.

Integrity means that the UN must respect the independent mandates of other established processes, frameworks, and institutions. To do otherwise strains the UN’s limited resources and focus, and diminishes its effectiveness.

Integrity means that UN resolutions and organizations should uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, promote well-defined consensus language, and reflect the interests of all Member States.

Nothing short of the sound functioning, credibility, and effectiveness of the UN hangs in the balance. All Member States should recommit themselves to ensuring that this basic principle is upheld.

Mr. Chair, colleagues, we continue to appreciate your openness and collaboration during the planning period and we look forward to continuing to work with you in the weeks ahead to ensure success.

Thank you.