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I present this statement of behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, as well, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The solemn commitment that “no one will be left behind” was expressed by all of our leaders in 2015 when adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agreement reflects a people-centered approach to development that focuses on the dignity and the rights of each individual.
Since UNGA 70, however, the EU is concerned that there has been a gradual and subtle movement towards a concept of development that focuses on states rather than individuals. We feel that this is shifting us away from the universal approach epitomized by the Sustainable Development Goals.
Let us be clear, we fully accept that the notion of “no country being left behind” is contained in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. We completely support the ambition of Agenda 2030 that the Goals and targets be met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society. However, the language introduced in an imperfect compromise last year does not accurately reflect either Addis or Agenda 2030.
We cannot accept a gradual re-interpretation of a concept underwritten by all of our leaders. At a time when we should be focused on delivering the big agreements of 2015, we must resist the temptation to constantly seek to rewrite or undermine them.
The Second Committee should be aforum of great importance to international development but its potential remains unfulfilled. People’s lives and their livelihoods are at stake. We should aim to make the Second Committee as relevant as possible and focus on driving delivery of the 2015 agreements. We should not, as we’ve already said, get caught in a fruitless trap of renegotiating them.
During the negotiations this year, the EU has consistently proposed alternative language for the relevant preambular and operative paragraphs closely based on what our leaders agreed and firmly faithful to their vision for Agenda 2030. We regret that these proposals were not accepted. We regret even more deeply that fellow negotiators refused to even come to the table to discuss this issue, rebuffing all attempts on our part to find a a compromise text that would have bridged our positions. Therefore, in order to better reflect Agenda 2030, we shall propose the following modifications in the relevant resolutions. Firstly the deletion of the repetitive paragraph in the preambular section that misquotes paragraph 1 of Addis, and secondly the replacement of the operative paragraph with the following:
‘Calls upon all stakeholders to implement the present resolution as a means to deliver the comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, in which the dignity of the human person is fundamental, the goals and targets are met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society, no one is left behind, and we endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.’
As the Secretary General himself identified, at a time when multilateralism and the rules-based international system are under threat, we need to hold firm to the principles agreed by our leaders in 2015. This is particularly important given the upcoming leaders’ summit to check progress on Agenda 2030 in 2019. We note that the Secretary General himself has just written to G20 leaders urging them to do more to deliver on Agenda 2030 and its central promise to “leave no one behind”. We sincerely hope we can find a way for the
Second Committee to become a more constructive vehicle for delivering this ambition.
And we hope that our suggestions will find the support of the Committee.
Finally, let me underline that the concerns expressed are related to the two paragraphs mentioned earlier and that the EU looks forward to joining consensus on or voting in favour of, the rest of the text, as appropriate. We reiterate our thanks to the many colleagues who worked hard to find consensus on the rest of the substance with us.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.