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Diplomacy in Action

51. U.S. interpretive statement on World Summit on Sustainable Development declaration


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Statement of the United States

Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

As the United States of America stated for the record at the 1992 United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the United States
understands and accepts that principle 7 of the Rio Declaration on
Environment and Development highlights the special leadership role of
developed countries, based on their industrial development, experience with
environmental protection policies and actions, and wealth, technical expertise
and capabilities. The United States does not accept any interpretation of
principle 7 that would imply a recognition or acceptance by the United States
of any international obligations or liabilities, or any diminution of the
responsibilities of developing countries under international law.

The phrase "common but differentiated responsibilities" is contained in
the second sentence of Rio principle 7, which provides that "in view of the
different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have
common but differentiated responsibilities." The United States interprets
references to common but differentiated responsibilities in the Plan of
Implementation in this manner.

Corporate responsibility

During the conference, the Chairman of the Main Committee stated that
it was "the collective understanding" of the contact group on means of
implementation that paragraph 49 of the Plan of Implementation, regarding
corporate responsibility and accountability, refers to existing
intergovernmental agreements and international initiatives, and that this
understanding should be reflected in the final report of the conference. The
United States associates itself with this statement and notes that this
understanding is of critical importance to the proper understanding and
implementation of paragraph 49.

Biological diversity

While joining the consensus on the Plan of Implementation, the United
States reserves its position with respect to paragraph 44 (o). This paragraph
envisages the negotiation "within the framework of the Convention on
Biological Diversity, bearing in mind the Bonn Guidelines, an international
regime to promote and safeguard the fair and equitable sharing of benefits
arising out of the utilization of genetic resources." In the context of the final
negotiations on this paragraph, the words "legally binding" were deleted
before the word "regime" at the request of numerous delegations. In light
of this negotiating history, the United States understands that the undertaking
envisaged in this paragraph would not entail the development of a legally
binding instrument. The United States further considers that this paragraph
constitutes an invitation for States to explore non-binding tools to better
implement the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Bonn Guidelines,
the latter of which were adopted in April of this year. It is the view of the
United States that any initiatives in this area must fully accord access to
genetic resources and respect rights and obligations under international law.

Health

The United States understands that no language in the Plan of
Implementation, including references to health, "reproductive and sexual
health", "basic health services" and "health-care services", or references to
rights or freedoms, can in any way be interpreted as including or promoting
abortion or the use of abortifacients. Similarly, the United States does not
consider any reference in the document to United Nations conferences or
summits, including the World Summit for Children, the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development, the International Conference
on Population and Development, the World Summit for Social Development,
and the Fourth World Conference on Women, and their follow-ups, to
constitute an endorsement or promotion of abortion. The United States does,
however, support the treatment of injuries or illnesses caused by illegal or
legal abortion, including, for example, compassionate post-abortion care.

Official development assistance

The United States reaffirms that it does not accept international aid
targets based on percentages of donor gross national product. The United
States does believe that aid should be increased to those developing countries
making a demonstrated commitment to governing justly, investing in their own
people, and promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Nature of the Plan of Implementation and the Johannesburg Declaration

The United States highlights the importance of the Plan of
Implementation and the Johannesburg Declaration and notes that, like other
such declarations and related documents, these documents adopted at this
conference contain important political goals and coordinated plans of action,
but do not create legally binding obligations on States under international law.



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