Explanation of Vote on agenda item 69 (b) on the resolution "The right to development" in the Third Committee of the General Assembly

Teri Robl
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
New York, NY
November 28, 2012


Fostering development continues to be a cornerstone of U.S. international engagement, and we are the largest bilateral donor of overseas development assistance. The United States strongly supports achievement of the MDGs and has adopted and is implementing a U.S. Global Development Policy that guides our overall development efforts.

That policy, which places a premium on broad-based economic growth, democratic governance, game-changing innovations, and enduring systems for meeting basic human needs, recognizes that development is a long-term proposition, and progress depends importantly on the choices of political leaders and the quality of institutions in developing countries. Where leaders govern responsibly, set in place good policies, and make investments conducive to development, positive outcomes can be achieved. Where those conditions are absent, it is difficult to engineer sustained progress, no matter how good our intentions or the extent of our engagement.

Achievement of development goals will be fostered by the promotion and protection of the human rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States agrees that economic development goals and objectives must be pursued in such a way that the development and environmental needs of present and future generations are taken into account.

These objectives align closely with the broader thrust of this resolution on the right to development. My delegation requested a vote and will vote no, because we do not believe the current text of the resolution reflects consensus on the best way to achieve these goals.

We have noted that discussions and resolutions on the right to development should not include unrelated material on controversial topics, particularly topics that are being addressed elsewhere.

We have stated very clearly that we are not prepared to join consensus on the possibility of negotiating a binding international agreement on this topic. We therefore cannot accept language in this resolution that contemplates an international legal standard of a binding nature.

As we have repeatedly stated, discussion of the right to development needs to focus on aspects of development that relate to human rights, universal rights that are held and enjoyed by individuals, and which every individual may demand from his or her own government. These include civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights. These fundamental concerns have not been adequately addressed in this resolution.

In addition, as we said in the Working Group and reiterated during discussions at the HRC, it will be important to consider not only the criteria and sub-criteria, but also the indicators elaborated by the High Level Task Force. Only when we are able to evaluate and understand the criteria in light of the sub-criteria and indicators will we be able to assess and consider revisions to the work of the Task Force.

For all these reasons, this resolution did not address our core concerns. Nonetheless, we will engage constructively with the Open-Ended Working Group on the Right to Development in an effort to move forward on this important topic.


PRN: 2012/280