United States Second Committee Global Explanation of Position

Courtney R. Nemroff
Acting U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 21, 2019


On behalf of the U.S. government, I would like to extend our thanks to Senegal as chair of this Second Committee session. I take this opportunity to clarify the U.S. policy position on several issues found in 2C resolutions.

We underscore that many of the outcome documents referenced in various Second Committee resolutions, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, are non-binding documents that do not create new or effect existing rights or obligations under international law.

We underscore that the 2030 Agenda also does not 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. Further, the United States understands any references to “internationally agreed development goals” to be referring to the 2030 Agenda.

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 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 forums. 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.

Regarding the reaffirmation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we note that much of the trade-related language in the 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 United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement to the United Nations on November 4, 2019. The withdrawal will take effect one year from the delivery of the notification. Therefore, references to the Paris Agreement and climate change are without prejudice to U.S. positions.

With respect to references to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special reports, the United States has indicated at the IPCC that acceptance of such reports and approval of their respective Summaries for Policymakers by the IPCC does not imply U.S. endorsement of the specific findings or underlying contents of the

reports. References to the IPCC special reports are also 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 recipients build a culture of preparedness, promote greater resilience, and achieve self-reliance.

With respect to the New Urban Agenda, the United States believes 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.

With regards to 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.

The United States also notes that the term “inclusive growth” appears throughout many of the resolutions. Part of the problem with placing inclusive growth at the forefront of economic discussions is that the term itself is vaguely defined and applied freely to economic discussions, with little consideration for the trade-offs between higher levels of sustainable, supply-led economic growth and a more equitable distribution of resources of that growth. The United States recognizes the importance of studying inequality and improving the measurements of income and consumption across populations; however, we want to ensure that any work or goal related to inclusivity remain grounded in evidence and proven best practices.

Thank You.