Human Rights Council, 37th Session
Geneva, March 23, 2018
– As prepared –
We would like to thank South Africa and the core-group for their cooperative spirit, which enabled us to join consensus on this resolution to underscore the priority we place on the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of sustainable development.
However, we regret that this resolution does not address this vital issue in a more productive way. Our concerns about the right to development, cited in PP4, are well known, and will be addressed in the Item 3 General Statement.
The United States recognizes that the 2030 Agenda can help countries work toward global peace and prosperity, and that each country has its own development priorities and must work towards implementation in accordance with its own national policies and priorities. However, this single element should not be elevated above others, particularly in a Human Rights Council resolution. Similarly, it is incongruous that the resolution stresses that the Sustainable Development Goals are “universal, indivisible, and interlinked,” but implies that SDG 17, which addresses means of implementation and about which this body has no expertise, is foremost among them. Because of these misstatements of fact, we must dissociate from PP9 and OP4. We do not support such attempts to circumvent the careful balance of elements in the 2030 Agenda.
With regard to PP9, the United States further notes that several of the trade-related targets in Goal 17 have been overtaken by events since September 2015 and are irrelevant. Our reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda has no standing for ongoing work and negotiations involving trade. Indeed, some of the intervening events happened just months after the release of the outcome document. Therefore, the text of PP9 does not serve as a basis for future negotiations in the UN, and the United States will not be able to join consensus on it in the future.
The Human Rights Council should play a vital role in focusing the world’s attention on human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are concerned that inviting the President of ECOSOC to annually brief the Council will be duplicative of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), and that its focus will stray from our work here. The work of the Human Rights Council should feed into the HLPF, which has the mandate to consider the implementation of all elements of sustainable development. Introducing economic and development issues into our deliberations will not enhance our work; it will distract the Council from the key role it should play in safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms. For these reasons, we dissociate from OP4.
Finally, the United States recalls UN Members’ mutual commitment in Paragraph 18 of the 2030 Agenda, that in implementing the 2030 Agenda, “we reaffirm our commitment to international law and emphasize that the Agenda is to be implemented in a manner that is consistent with the rights and obligations of States under international law.” The United States also highlights UN Members’ mutual commitment, in Paragraph 58 of the 2030 Agenda, that implementation of the Agenda must respect and be without prejudice to the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including negotiations, and does not prejudge or serve as precedent for decisions and actions underway in other forums. For example, the United States continues to view the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the appropriate forum for the negotiation of trade issues, and the 2030 Agenda did not represent a commitment to continue to pursue the WTO Doha Development Agenda, nor did it represent a commitment to provide new market access for goods or services. The Agenda also did not interpret or alter any WTO agreement or decision, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS Agreement).