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EOV: Right to Development
September 26, 2013

“Right to Development”

Explanation of Vote

Statement of the Delegation of the United States of America

UN Human Rights Council – 24th Session
September 26, 2013


Thank you.  The United States’ commitment to international development as a critical element of our foreign policy is clear.  Nevertheless, we continue to have concerns about the so-called right to development.  The United States is pleased to actively participate in the Working Group on the Right to Development 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 upset the careful balance resulting from those discussions by calling for an additional two-day informal meeting, without any effort to reach agreement on how to make progress in those discussions.  It also includes controversial and divisive language from the General Assembly’s resolutions on this topic. We therefore request a vote on this resolution and will vote NO.

We would also highlight these additional points.

  • First, the United States remains convinced that any discussion of the right to development must involve expert guidance from civil society and the private sector.  We hope that this year, we will be able to ensure better expert and civil society participation.
  • Second, it is important to consider not only the criteria and sub-criteria, but also the indicators elaborated by the High Level Task Force.  It is the more specific indicators that are essential to analysis, measurement, and evaluation.  These operational elements – which, together with the sub-criteria themselves, constitute “operational sub-criteria” – are important not so that we can rank or criticize particular States, but rather so that we can see how to improve the lives of the greatest number of individuals.  Therefore, it is essential that the Working Group’s future sessions take up the issue of indicators.  We see this as squarely within the Working Group’s mandate.  We are disappointed that the proponents of this resolution have consistently refused to consider proposals to incorporate discussion of these operational elements.
  • Third, 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 rights include civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.  The focus should be on the obligations States owe to their citizens in this regard, not the asserted obligations of institutions.  Regrettably, this resolution continues to focus on institutions.  In addition, the resolution dictates how the UN’s specialized agencies should incorporate the topic of the right to development in their activities and inappropriately singles out the World Trade Organization for negative treatment.
  • Fourth, as previously noted, we are not prepared to join consensus on the possibility of negotiating a binding international agreement on this topic.

Nevertheless, we hope that at its 15th session, the Working Group can continue to operate constructively and on the basis of consensus, with further consideration of the sub-criteria and their operational elements and indicators.