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Human Rights Council Panel on the Financial and Economic Crisis
March 2, 2010

Panel on the Financial and Economic Crisis

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council, 13th Session

Geneva, March 2, 2010

As Prepared

Thank you, Mr. President.

We very much appreciate the opportunity to address this vital issue. In April last year, the leaders of the G20 came together in London and agreed to do everything necessary to ensure recovery, to repair our financial system and to maintain the global flow of capital. This robust and timely response helped to halt the sharp decline in global economic activity and stabilize financial markets. The IMF now estimates that world economic growth will rise by nearly 3% by the end of 2010.

While we appear to be moving in the right direction again, this sense of normalcy should not lead to complacency. At the Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009 the G20 countries pledged to lay a foundation for strong, sustained and balanced growth. As part of that pledge, we recognized the importance of raising living standards in the emerging markets and developing countries on the basis that all countries, rich and poor, are partners in building a sustainable and balanced global economy in which the benefits of economic growth are broadly and equitably shared.

Throughout this global economic and financial crisis, the United States has taken affirmative steps to ameliorate the disproportionate impact of the crisis on developing countries by strengthening support for the most vulnerable. In June 2009, the United States participated in the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, which resulted in an outcome document that prioritizes actions going forward and sets out a clear role for the United Nations. The same month, the ILO Global Jobs Pact was adopted unanimously by the International Labor Conference. The Pact addresses the social and employment impact of the crisis and sets out a general framework for recovery, centered on investments, employment and social protection. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the ILO for its excellent cooperation with the G20 on this issue. We look forward to strengthening our partnership ahead of the G20 labor ministerial and this year’s G20 Leaders’ Summit.

As part of the Administration’s invigorated emphasis on food security, President Obama has asked that Secretary Clinton lead a U.S. government-wide initiative to craft a global hunger and food security strategy that aims to improve the lives of the world’s poor through sustainable agriculture-led growth. The hunger-related Millennium Development Goals, which are based on the World Food Summit targets, are one of the key drivers of this strategy. The Rome Principles of Sustainable Food Security, unanimously adopted by 193 countries – including the United States – at the November 2009 World Summit on Food Security, pay particular attention to the needs of the world’s rural poor, including women and small-holder farmers. Both the United States Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative and the Rome Principles seek to identify and eliminate the root causes of hunger and rural poverty through country-owned plans, while at the same time continuing much needed emergency humanitarian aid. We encourage donor countries to remain committed to the Rome principles, to contribute to the Multi-donor food security trust fund managed by the World Bank in an effort improve the transparency and sustainability of monetary donations, and to support negotiated reforms of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Committee on Food Security.

These concrete steps reflect our efforts to meet our collective responsibility to mitigate the social impact of the crisis and to assure that all parts of the globe participate in the recovery. They align with President Obama’s call for a new era of engagement, “an era when nations live up to their responsibilities, and act on behalf of our shared security and prosperity.”

While we recognize that the global economic and financial crisis presents unique challenges to the efforts of developing countries to achieve their national development goals and that development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, we reiterate the primary responsibility of states to protect and promote human rights. Lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights. It is imperative that all States actively work to protect the human rights of individuals within their jurisdiction.

Thank you, Mr. President.