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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*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
We would like to use this opportunity to thank the Chair of the Second Committee and all the Members of the Bureau for their commitment and leadership throughout the session. The EU and its Member States remain committed to the revitalization of the Second Committee, including the reform of its agenda and the strengthening of its working procedures.
During this Second Committee, the EU and its Member States endeavoured to uphold key concepts from Agenda 2030, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement in Second Committee Resolutions through proposals on mainstreaming language, and we thank Delegations for engaging in these discussions.
We also dedicated considerable effort to preserving the guiding principle of Agenda 2030 that „no one will be left behind“ and we introduced language amendments at the time of adoption of the relevant resolutions in the Second Committee (a list of the 14 resolutions concerned is annexed to this statement).
While we chose not to re-introduce these amendments in the GA plenary, we would like to reiterate our position as follows and request that the present statement is included in the record of this meeting:
The solemn commitment that “no one will be left behind” was expressed by all 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 the 70th Session of the General Assembly, 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 the Addis Ababa Action Agenda 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 focus on delivering on the key agreements of 2015, we must resist the temptation to constantly seek to rewrite or undermine them.
The Second Committee should be a forum of great importance to the international development agenda 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 forward delivery of the 2015 agreements. We should not, as previously stated, get caught in a fruitless trap of renegotiating them.
During the Second Committee 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 compromise text that would have bridged our positions. Therefore, in order to better reflect Agenda 2030, we proposed the following modifications in the relevant resolutions. Firstly, the deletion of the repetitive paragraph in the preambular section that misquotes paragraph 1 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, 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 in the lead up to the High Level Political Forum at the level of Heads of State and Government in September 2019, where progress will be assessed. We note that the Secretary General himself wrote 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 that we can find a way for the Second Committee to become a more constructive vehicle for delivering this ambition and that our suggestions will find the support of Member States. In this regard we look forward to engaging in the informal consultations that the Chair announced for January 2019 to work towards a solution for this issue and on the revitalization of the Second Committee more broadly.
I thank you.
Annex – List of Resolutions voted in 2C on “no one will be left behind”
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.