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EOP on Resolution “Question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights”
March 27, 2014

Item 3:  Resolution Entitled “Question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights,” A/HRC/25/L.16

Explanation of Position by the Delegation of the United States of America

Delivered by Regina Waugh

Human Rights Council 25th Session
Geneva, March 27, 2014


The United States is pleased to join consensus on this resolution concerning the realization of ESC rights.  We engaged in the negotiations that developed this resolution and join consensus today as part of our efforts to work constructively with like-minded delegations on this important area.

As a matter of public policy, the United States continues to take steps to provide for the economic, social and cultural needs of its people.

While we share the broad aims of this resolution, the United States is concerned about a few key points in it.  As the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provides, each State Party undertakes to take the steps set out in Article 2.1, “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights.”  We agree that States’ Parties efforts to that end are important.  Even so, we interpret this resolution’s references to the obligations of States as applicable only to the extent they have assumed such obligations, and with respect to States Parties to the Covenant, in light of its Article 2(1).  The United States is not a party to that Covenant, and the rights contained therein are not justiciable as such in U.S. courts.

The principle of non-discrimination that underpins the very concept of human rights is critical, and one the United States strives continually to fulfill.  We read the references to non-discrimination in this resolution consistent with Article 2.2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as well as Article 2.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

On a separate issue, the United States regrets the introduction of language on the “right to development” in this resolution.  The concerns of the United States about the existence of a “right to development” are long-standing and well known, and the term does not have an agreed international understanding.  Work is needed to make it consistent with human rights, which the international community recognizes as universal rights that individuals hold and enjoy – and which every individual may demand from his or her own government.

The United States takes this opportunity to reinforce the need for all States to promote, protect, and respect human rights when carrying out their development goals and policies.  We welcome the contribution of the Council and other relevant UN bodies to the process of elaborating the post-2015 development agenda.  However we stress the Council itself is not the agreed venue for international community to reach consensus on the agenda itself.  Nothing in this resolution should be construed as pre-determining the post-2015 development agenda.

Finally, we interpret this resolution’s reaffirmation of previous documents, resolutions, and related human rights mechanisms as applicable to the extent states affirmed them in the first place.  In joining consensus on this resolution the United States does not recognize any change in the current state of conventional or customary international law.