Statement by Wellington Webb, Senior Advisor to the Permanent Representative of the United States to the Sixty-fourth Session of the General Assembly, in the General Debate of the Second Committee of the General Assembly

Wellington Webb, Senior Advisor to the Permanent Representative of the United States to the Sixty-fourth Session of the General Assembly
New York, NY
October 6, 2009


Mr. Chairman, let me first join many other delegations in congratulating you and the other bureau members on your election.  You have our best wishes for a successful session.

I also join others in expressing condolences for victims of recent disasters in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Region, and gratefully acknowledge condolences for victims in American Samoa.

The United States is pleased to join you and fellow member states here today to discuss the many important issues handled by this committee.  As the world recovers from the economic crisis, the work of the second committee takes on added importance because the challenges that we face are real, vital, and pressing.

Twelve days ago, President Barack Obama spoke to the General Assembly about “a new era of engagement” by the United States in world affairs.  Of the four pillars of that engagement, two of them – the preservation of our planet and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people – speak directly to the work of this Committee.

The key challenge facing this committee is to work together to find every avenue for consensus and cooperation.  We need to build collectively a constructive process that brings us all together, rather than focusing on the issues that divide us.  But, we must do this together; we cannot do this alone.  We call on this body, and its membership, to invigorate its constructive engagement in the crucial issues of sustainable economic development that make up this committee’s agenda.  

Our discussions this year find us in the midst of continued economic challenges, and many countries continue to suffer the knock-on effects of the financial and economic crisis.  But the outlook today is far better than it was at our last meeting twelve months ago.  There has been swift and decisive action by many countries to stabilize the world economy, address the root causes of the crisis, and position us for renewed growth.  In the United States, the engine of economic growth is beginning to churn and we hope to see this convert into job creation and growth both here at home and worldwide.  Internationally, industrial production has stabilized or is growing and trade is expanding again.  These are promising signs from many corners of the world but we all know that we must continue to be vigilant to ensure a return to world growth.  We need to be particularly mindful about the impact of the crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable countries.   

Since we last met, there has been a very active calendar of multilateral events aimed at forging a global consensus on recovery from the world economic crisis, including at the United Nations.  Most recently, the recent Pittsburgh Summit produced five key outcomes that will help secure the return to growth we seek.  Those outcomes include:

  • an agreement to sustain national stimulus plans until growth is restored;
  • adoption of the Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth;
  • concrete steps to reform domestic and international financial regulations;
  • an agreement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies; and
  • steps toward reforming our system of global economic cooperation and governance.

We look forward to a vigorous discussion of these important issues this fall in the Second Committee and at the November Financing for Development High-Level Dialogue.  Our strong belief is that the efforts of the G20 and other multilateral economic institutions and processes, can only achieve their maximum effect if they support – and in turn are supported by – the United Nations and the efforts of this Committee.  We must be partners, complementing each others’ strengths and comparative advantages, bringing together capable, effective leadership and initiative with durable, global consensus-building.

The UN development agenda is the cornerstone of much our activities in this committee, and we can add great value by bringing the development perspective forcefully into the unfolding global response to the crisis.  We believe the key is to focus on practical steps, drawing on the United Nations’ unique representativeness and longstanding experience dealing with countries in special situations.   With a major event on the Millennium Development Goals scheduled for next September, our deliberations should focus first and foremost on strategies for promoting development progress in the midst of multiple global challenges. 

Several weeks ago, we achieved an historic milestone for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.  The decision to create a new UN gender entity, and broad member support for it, demonstrates a new level of global recognition for the vital role that women play in economic and social development, and peace and security.  We have an important opportunity before us, and we must maintain our momentum by ensuring that we systematically reflect gender perspectives in various Second Committee resolutions and ensure that the new entity is established quickly, structured for effectiveness, and shepherded by a strong leader. 

Likewise, the critical challenge of climate change deserves our concerted and supportive engagement.  The world is looking to open an ambitious new chapter in December as we seek a global, post-2012 climate agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen.  These efforts deserve the undivided attention of our climate negotiators and we owe it to our citizens and future generations to be fully supportive of their efforts.

In the area of Science and Technology for Development, the U.S. would like to highlight the important role of cyber-security in promoting and protecting economic development.

Lastly, we will begin preparations this fall for next September’s event on the Millennium Development Goals.  President Obama has reiterated and re-emphasized America’s support of the MDGs.  We look forward to laying a solid foundation for a productive summit that will promote more rapid progress toward the goals our leaders committed themselves to in the Millennium Declaration.

Thank you.


PRN: 2009/199