Statement by Terri L. Robl, Minister-Counselor, General Assembly Agenda Item 127, Global Health and Foreign Policy

Terri Robl
U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council 
New York, NY
December 10, 2013


Thank You, Mr. President.

The United States is pleased to speak to the item on Global Health and Foreign Policy.

Our collective work in global health is based on partnership, whether bilateral, or multilateral. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria has just experienced a successful replenishment on December 3rd with outstanding new promises. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations continues to extend life-saving vaccines to the world’s neediest countries. The WHO-led Global Polio Eradication Initiative is critical for progress toward the polio end-game. These are several good examples of how work through partnerships enables us all to pursue our common objectives of saving and extending lives, eradicating diseases, advancing equal access to care and lifesaving medicines, and tackling many health challenges of our day.

The United States is partnering with countries in their efforts to expand health access, reduce health disparities, and strengthen capacities. Our development assistance helps countries lay the foundations for universal health coverage by strengthening and increasing human resources for health, identifying and scaling up high impact interventions, improving the quality and efficient purchasing of medicines, strengthening institutional and management capacities, and improving quality of care. As the landscape of international cooperation is transforming, in many cases it is appropriate and necessary to move away from the traditional development assistance model toward a different kind of true cooperation. The great majority of people living in extreme poverty in the world today now live in middle income countries. The effort to improve the coverage and quality of health services for people in those countries will be increasingly dependent on new partnerships that permit partners to share lessons learned and connect different sectors of activity that impact health.

The United States acknowledges the importance of considering health in the elaboration of the post-2015 agenda as we seek to achieve the MDGs. We also welcome the continued focus in the UN General Assembly on health as a critical foreign policy issue.

The resolution we are about to adopt, and which the U.S. is pleased to cosponsor, recognizes the need for advancing global health partnerships to promote the effective implementation of universal health coverage, supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment, supporting quality health systems, strengthening research and development and health innovation, and building capacity in national regulatory systems. We thank the cosponsors, and in particular this year’s facilitator, Indonesia, for the inclusive process of negotiations on the resolution before us on the important theme of partnerships.

We note that countries have a wide array of policy options and actions that may be appropriate in promoting the progressive realization of the right to the enjoyment of the highest available standard of physical and mental health. Therefore, General Assembly resolutions should not try to define the content of this right.

Furthermore, to the extent that it is implied in this resolution, the United States does not recognize creation of any new right which we have not previously recognized, the expansion of the content or coverage of existing rights, or any other change in the current state of treaty or customary international law.

Advancing global health through partnership is a top priority for the United States and this important resolution confirms the possibilities and challenges for us all.

Thank you Mr. President.


PRN: 2013/281