U.S. Statement on the Proposed Resolution for the 2020 ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment

U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 2, 2020

U.S. Statement on the Proposed Resolution for the 2020 ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment

The United States welcomes the opportunity to express our views and positions on the Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) resolution put forward for consideration by the Chair. The United States is the most generous nation in the world, and we continue to lead in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The American people have given more than $11 billion that will benefit the global COVID-19 response, and we continue to seek to ensure that the substantial U.S. funding and scientific efforts on this front remain a central and coordinated part of the worldwide effort against the disease. We will continue to offer our assistance to those in need, working within the international system, with our bilateral partners and allies, and through the private sector, non-profit organizations, and faith-based organizations to save lives and alleviate human suffering.

We appreciate the Chair’s efforts during negotiations of this resolution to bring delegations to consensus under unprecedented circumstances. However, we are disappointed with the approach the Chair chose to take for this year’s resolution, specifically that the vast majority of this year’s text is a cut-and-paste job from previous text, key elements of which garnered strong opposition from the United States. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Economic and Social Council should move beyond its “business-as-usual” approach and endeavor to provide current and focused guidance to the humanitarian system. Due to the continued inclusion of highly divisive language, the United States cannot join consensus on this resolution.

As stated at the outset of the negotiations, the United States cannot accept the terms “sexual and reproductive health care services” and “sexual and reproductive health” in Operative Paragraphs 42 and 47. The United States rejects any interpretation of international human rights to require any State Party to provide access to abortion. In short, there is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.

The United States strongly condemns violence against or exploitation of women and girls at all times, including during humanitarian crises. The United States defends human dignity and supports access to high-quality health care for women and girls across the lifespan. We emphasize that health care should focus on health promotion and prevention, consistent with national legislation and policies. At the UN and elsewhere, the United States will continue its work to build consensus on clear terminology that would better promote women’s health without also promoting abortion. As President Trump has stated, “Americans will never tire of defending innocent life.”

The United States also rejects preambular paragraphs 40 and 41 in the resolution. The United States maintains the sovereign right to facilitate or restrict access to its territory, in accordance with its national laws and policies, subject to our existing international obligations. The United States did not participate in the negotiation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), objected to its adoption, and is not bound by any of the commitments or outcomes stemming from the GCM process or contained in the GCM itself. The GCM and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants contain goals and objectives that are inconsistent and incompatible with U.S. law, policy, and the interests of the American people. We refer you to the National Statement of the United States of America on the Adoption of the GCM, issued December 7, 2018.

And finally, Operative Paragraph 4 lacks the term “voluntary” with regard to technology transfer. The United States objects to language that could potentially undermine incentives to innovation, such as technology transfer that is not both voluntary and on mutually agreed terms.

The United States has capabilities greater than any other country in the world and is proud to help those in need in humanitarian emergencies. As always, the United States will continue to do so. On average, the United States responds to over 65 disasters each year (more than one a week) in more than 50 countries, providing assistance to people affected by rapid-onset disasters – such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods – and slow-onset crises, including drought and conflict. We are also the largest provider of food assistance in the world. While we all work to address the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not forget the historic number of people already suffering from the effects of humanitarian crises around the globe.