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U.S. Explanation of Vote: Right to Development Resolution
September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012

Thank you, Madame President.

The United States’ commitment to international development as a mainstay of our foreign policy is clear.  Nevertheless, we have long-standing questions regarding the right to development.  The United States was pleased to engage actively with the Working Group on the Right to Development at its thirteenth session in an effort to foster better implementation of development goals and to harmonize the various interpretations of the right to development.  Unfortunately, the divisive resolution before us seeks to add additional meeting time to upcoming and potentially ongoing expert and governmental sessions – without any effort to reach agreement on how to make progress in those discussions.  We therefore request a vote and will vote NO.

First, as we said in the Working Group, it will be important to consider not only the criteria and sub-criteria, but also the indicators elaborated by the High Level Task Force.  Only when we are able to evaluate and understand the criteria in light of the sub-criteria and indicators, and vice versa, will we be able to assess and consider revisions to the work of the Task Force.  In the thirteenth session of the Working Group, there was broad agreement that indicators could be discussed, although there were differing views on exactly how that might occur.  We are therefore disappointed that the proponents of this resolution have consistently refused to consider proposals to incorporate discussion of indicators.

Second, discussion of the right to development needs to focus on aspects of development that relate to human rights, universal rights that are held and enjoyed by individuals.  These include civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.  Further, the focus should be on the obligations States owe to their citizens in this regard, not the asserted obligations of institutions.  We are therefore also disappointed at the continued focus on institutions in this text.   In addition, we are concerned that the resolution dictates how the UN’s specialized agencies, and funds and programs should incorporate the topic of the right to development in their activities.  It also inappropriately singles out the World Trade Organization, which is not even a development organization, for negative treatment.

Third, we are also concerned about the additional costs associated with the two-day seminar the resolution establishes.  The sponsors have worked to negotiate down from a PBI which was initially some 1.5 million dollars, but the costs are still too high.  The United States and other major contributors to OHCHR have said that they cannot support additional increases in the regular budget this year or next.  Therefore, the United States must express concern about the availability of resources needed to implement the provisions of the resolution.

Lastly, as previously noted, we are not prepared to join consensus on the possibility of negotiating a binding international agreement on this topic.

While we would like to engage constructively in the next session of the Working Group and any intersessional meeting, our overall concern is that this resolution seeks to press forward at all speed while disregarding the need for States to discuss and agree on how to take the work forward in an objective and constructive fashion.