General/Political Declaration Statement During Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiations
U.S. Special Coordinator for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
New York City
July 21, 2015
Thank you, Mr. Co-Facilitator. First of all, just a note of appreciation for the congratulations that you offered yesterday. Regarding the Women’s World Cup, my own mother was an excellent athlete and a long-time coach for different sports who has seen the opportunities for women to compete change significantly in her own lifetime – and has experienced firsthand the positive effects on girls’ and women’s lives. It was gratifying indeed to witness the level of excitement and viewership generated by the U.S. team’s recent victory.
And regarding the New Horizons mission to Pluto: it demonstrates what is possible when we remain focused and mobilize action around a clear goal, no matter how ambitious. Too often we set limits based on our capabilities when it is possible to achieve much more – a lesson indeed for us here.
Thanks to both of you for this revised draft. It is clear that you both listened with close attention to the range of comments raised in June and have worked hard to bring the draft one step closer to consensus. You have earned the trust we have all placed in you, and while we have – and will raise – remaining concerns, we are pleased with the progress reflected here.
Our process, from the beginning, has benefited from a robust and diverse discourse reflective of a great many voices across regions and sectors, and we thank colleagues for the richness of the debate, as it is helping us hone in in on a clear and concise narrative for sustainable development, one that builds upon the MDGs, brings an end to extreme poverty, ensures environmental conservation, and focuses on the most vulnerable first.
Before turning to our assessment, I first want to take a moment to congratulate Ambassadors George Talbot and Geir Pederson and express our appreciation for the many in – and outside – this room who forged forward through sleepless nights and difficult debates to conclude a successful Financing for Development outcome in Addis Ababa. Our process here will be the better for it, and we thank you for your dedication.
Now to the Political Declaration: there is much we admire in this new draft. First, as we mentioned in the June session, in our view, there is little that is more important to successfully mobilizing the global community to achieve the sustainable development goals than a concise, compelling central vision that translates and communicates the potential of this agenda to the widest possible audience.
The preamble makes great strides to that end. It defines, in practical terms, the central purpose and key elements of this agenda. You have used the 5P’s to good effect. We see all 5 Ps as equally necessary to successfully achieving our agenda, so we do not support prioritization among them, though we are open to tweaks that better reinforce the integration of our agenda.
We particularly appreciated the added focus on human dignity, as well as your point about first addressing the needs of those who are furthest behind. We believe this section to be compelling and would like it to remain in the final document in a form similar to this.
Second, we find both the “Our Vision” and “Our World Today” sections to be more comprehensive and representative than their previous versions. The sentences beginning with “We envisage…” define a stirring and ambitious future. The “Our World Today” section now rightly reflects the enormous opportunities before us, and the MDG paragraphs – previously 8 and 9 – fit well here.
Third, we commend the manner in which children and youth are elevated in this draft. Their role is rightly identified as positive agents of change. We also appreciate the strengthened references to women as change agents..
All of this said, we do have suggestions and comments, which we look forward to discussing and providing in more detail as our negotiations proceed.
First, we and others made the point in the June session that the Political Declaration need not serve as an Executive Summary for the whole of the document. We reiterate that we see considerable opportunity to streamline and remove the “New Agenda,” “Implementation,” and “Follow-up and review” sections. Any critical points or paragraphs within these sections of the Declaration could naturally fit into the ensuing chapters themselves.
Additionally, we have some concerns with these sections as drafted.
The “Implementation” section now seems to differentiate the importance of public finance and “other contributions” such as business, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations. The remainder of this section also deemphasizes country ownership and domestic resource mobilization, as well as civil society. This is inconsistent with the FFD outcome. We suggest and expect that this section be brought into alignment with FFD in the final version of this document.
We also suggest moving paragraphs 40 and 41 regarding the Global Partnership to the beginning of this section. As defined in the 5P’s, a revitalized Global Partnership is at the heart of successful implementation of the agenda, and should therefore rightly set the frame.
Finally, we recommend that paragraphs 20 and 21 would be more appropriate to include in the Implementation section of the text.
On Follow-Up and Review, we find paragraph 43 – regarding data capacities – too narrow to fully capture the nature of both the challenge and the promise of the data revolution. If it remains, it should more fully demonstrate how data can be the game-changing innovation of the next 15 years.
Second, we commend the strong call to end extreme poverty in our time and agree with others on the fundamental multidimensionality of poverty. Both are critical to this agenda, and both deserve attention within the declaration. We also support the suggestion of the G77 yesterday for a strong reference to the MDG lineage up front.
Third, we note the strong agreement and very much endorse the language in paragraph 20 that this agenda take into account different national realities, capacities, and levels of development. Collectively we have been careful to emphasize this within our new agenda, whereas the MDGs did not. We also note the longstanding consensus that each country has primary responsibility for its own development, even while our capacities are different. And as the Addis Action Agenda reinforced, in order to achieve the grand ambitions that we have set for ourselves, we all share the commitment and responsibility to maximize the implementation of this universal agenda.
In support, the U.S. remains as committed as ever to assisting the most vulnerable on a path to achievement. We reiterate our view that we do not see Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) as a proxy for these concepts. We also see the reference in paragraph 31 to “shared responsibility” as an important description of this effort, which is also inclusive of other stakeholders. In keeping with the universality of this agenda, rather than looking to developed countries to take the lead, we must collectively take action on this agenda, all countries together.
Fourth, we do not believe it to be appropriate to single out the Declaration on the Right to Development as a “shared principle” in paragraph 10. This paragraph should reflect universal principles and documents to which we all ascribe – aspects of development that relate to human rights – which are universal rights that are held and enjoyed by individuals, and which every individual may demand from his or her own government. The right to development lacks agreed international understanding, and is not consistent with these rights.
Fifth, we note with concern that there has been no change to the reference to foreign occupation. Our views on this point are well known, and this will not be acceptable. We do however encourage all parties to work closely and constructively together to find a solution to this.
A few additional points before I close:
We commend you for stronger language on global connectivity, and the role of science, technology, and innovation. These are critical to the success of this agenda, and we expect and look forward to these references remaining in a final version.
We reiterate our concern that the Declaration’s treatment of non-discrimination does not go far enough, as it continues to omit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
We note the addition of a reference to families in paragraph 38. We were surprised to see such an addition at this late stage, and can accept it only if it is explicitly inclusive of all types of families.
We note that references to the importance of freshwater resources and water, sanitation and hygiene are lacking alongside references to other water resources in the Political Declaration. These are necessary elements for sustainable development and we encourage you to add them to the appropriate sections of the text, including the “planet” and “prosperity” sections.
On the addition in paragraph 25 regarding redistribution of wealth: while we all endorse the centrality to this agenda of addressing inequality through prosperity and sustained growth, “redistribution” as the only means to achieve it is not something where we have collectively reviewed the evidence and reached consensus on its implications. We call for its deletion.
We also note that the Annexes remain. We continue to see these as issues for further discussion, rather than as pieces of a final text.
To Annex 2, with the Addis outcome complete, we must determine how best to address it within our text. We look forward to discussions on this topic later this week, and reserve comment until that time.
To Annex 3, we continue to believe that the chapeau language of the OWG is an unnecessary rearticulation of much what landed in the remainder of this document, and do not support its inclusion in a final document.
Mr. Co-Facilitators, thank you again for your work. We have noted some of our remaining concerns, and we believe we still have a lot of ground to cover. However, we believe we are on the right path to achieving consensus on a Political Declaration worthy of our heads of state and government. Thank you.