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Resolution Entitled “Realization of Economic, Social & Cultural Rights”
March 26, 2015

Item 3: Resolution Entitled “Realization of Economic, Social & Cultural Rights” A/HRC/28/L.20

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

Human Rights Council 28th Session

Geneva, March 26, 2015

The United States is pleased to join consensus on this resolution concerning the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights. We engaged in the negotiations that developed this resolution and join consensus today as part of our efforts to work constructively with 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 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 Covenant.

While we recognize the importance of social protection floors, we note that countries have a wide array of policies and actions that may be appropriate in promoting the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights. Therefore, we think that this resolution should not try to define the content of those rights.

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.