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Explanation of Position: Extreme Poverty
September 27, 2012

September 27, 2012

The United States is pleased to join consensus on the resolution “Extreme Poverty and Human Rights”, which adopts the Guiding Principles on extreme poverty and human rights as a useful tool for States in the formulation and implementation of poverty reduction and eradication programs, as appropriate. We believe the Guiding Principles articulate many useful guidelines for consideration by States as they seek to achieve the policy goals of reducing, and ultimately eliminating, poverty. This resolution – and the Guiding Principles – also highlights the important issue of extreme poverty in all countries of the world, regardless of their economic, social, or cultural situation. We are committed to advancing the well being of the citizens in our country, and we encourage all countries to invest in a  better future for their citizens.

In a speech to the General Assembly two years ago, President Obama stated that, “America will partner with nations that offer their people a path out of poverty. And together, we must unleash growth that powers individuals and emerging markets in all parts of the globe.” The United States has had a long standing commitment to international development, and has put substantial resources behind that pledge. In fiscal year 2011, the United States Agency for International Development spent $16.6 billion in foreign assistance to promote stable societies and the development of stronger markets. $1.3 billion of this budget was allocated to education and social services, which included addressing factors that put people at risk for chronic poverty.

We would like to state that we join consensus on this resolution today with the express understanding that discussion of the right to development can only bear fruit if it is firmly anchored to a human rights framework, namely a discussion of how individuals enjoy the right to development and how states, both in upholding their obligations to the individual and in cooperation with one another, can best promote and protect this right.

In addition, while, as we have said, we believe the Guiding Principles articulate many useful guidelines for consideration by States and happily join consensus on this resolution, we would also note that there are interpretations of human rights law within this report with which we disagree. For example, we disagree with the suggestion that there are binding legal obligations on States that have not ratified relevant treaties or that there is a legal duty to provide foreign assistance.

The United States looks forward to continued engagement and discussion.