Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations General Assembly: On the Adoption of the 2019 UNGA Resolution on Global Health and Foreign Policy

New York, 11/12/2019 - 22:29, UNIQUE ID: 191211_21
Statements on behalf of the EU

11 December 2019, New York - Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States by Mr. Carlos Casal, Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the General Assembly on the adoption of the 2019 UNGA resolution on Global Health and Foreign Policy

Mr. President, Excellencies,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

Please allow me to thank the "Group of 7" and, in particular, the Permanent Mission of France for facilitating this year’s resolution on global health and foreign policy, which focuses on an inclusive approach to strengthen health systems. We greatly appreciated the constructive approach of the facilitator, Mr Vincent Jechoux, and his team in leading an open negotiation process.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development continues to be the leading policy framework that guides the European Union in all aspects, including global health and foreign policy. In order to live up to our joint commitment of leaving no one behind, we need to ensure health for all.

This seventy-fourth session of the UN General Assembly is of particular importance to the topic of global health and foreign policy. In September, we adopted the Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage at the High-Level Meeting, a consensual document that paves the way for achieving universal health coverage by 2030. This session also marks the commemoration of two ground-breaking international milestones. Last month, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The EU remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the ICPD and the outcomes of their review conferences and remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in this context. Having that in mind, the EU reaffirms its commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. The EU further stresses the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and health-care services.

Sexual violence and gender-based violence is a global health epidemic with far-reaching implications on the physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health of individuals. To this end, we welcome the importance the resolution attaches to ensuring that persons affected by sexual violence in natural disasters, humanitarian emergencies and armed conflict have access to non-discriminatory health-care services. The EU also stresses the importance of providing gender-responsive services in this regard.

The European Union remains firmly committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights. The EU’s strong position is that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and inter-related. In light of this, we regret that the final text did not include stronger human rights language, especially as it pertains to the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of association and of expression. The EU understands OP8 to mean that everyone has the right individually or in association with others, to human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Health is an essential investment to achieve stable and prosperous societies, economic and social well-being as well as security. The EU promotes a “health in all policies” approach with a specific emphasis on inclusivity, equity and gender equality. To this end, we need to invest more in the health sector, not only through financing but also through ensuring a more robust and comprehensive approach that guarantees equitable access to vaccinations and affordable medicines while also tackling the rise of non-communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance.

We note that PP23 of this resolution recalls the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines. We reiterate our concerns about policy assumptions and subsequent findings of the Panel as presented to the WIPO Standing Committee on Patents on 16 June 2016. We find it more valuable to base actions and UN language on the informed findings of the 2011 World Health Organization Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property.

Please also allow me to highlight the specific attention that the EU pays to health education, as well as access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food and safe drinking water and sanitation, with particular consideration given to the issue of water-borne diseases, such as cholera and child diarrhoea.

Finally, please allow me to reassure you of the European Union’s commitment to protect and promote the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and to promote human dignity, well-being and prosperity.

Thank you.


* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.