High-Level Political Forum Report: 2Benedict Kinnison | July 22, 2019
As meetings in the High-Level Political Forum continued, the United States’ strange behavior made it clear that they are not investing in the 2030 Agenda. In many of the meetings, the United States is a diplomatic outlier. In this conference aimed at international cooperation, they pick fights and remain notably quiet. There is no discussion from them on working with other countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and it seems that their global interests are purely military. Thus, the United States does not appear interested in UN policy.
In early meetings discussing the current state of the Forum’s goals, the United States took shots at their rivals and abruptly politicized the topics. The United States first came up in a meeting on promoting trade and development. Here, a delegate from Iran stated that they are struggling to achieve the UN’s goal of eradicating poverty because “some countries” are placing illegal sanctions on them. This brief pivot from the peaceful ideals being discussed to real global headlines characterized what would be the United States’ involvement in the HLPF.
The position of the United States was never clearer than in a meeting discussing what needs to be done to reach STG 4: insuring quality education for all. The room was filled with teachers and representatives from academia who were discussing problems such as making teaching a more financially attractive profession. When the US decided to speak on this issue, they attacked rivals rather than diplomatically try to help teachers. The delegate from the United States condemned China for its treatment of Muslim communities. They stated that their denial of culture and teaching only in Mandarin in north-western Muslim “internment camps” was an attack on education. The delegate then turned to Russia and expressed the US’s concern about the dismantling of Ukrainian education systems in occupied Crimea. While these may be valid concerns, an international meeting on teacher pay is not the platform to bring up these issues. Russian Federation seemed to think so too, as they then expressed their disappointment in the US for politicizing this event, and they received support.
The United States worked in political attacks at many angles. At an HLPF side event designed to raise awareness for members of Parliaments who supported human rights, the US again went on offence. The delegate framed a question on human rights to criticize the Government of Venezuela and call for an end to their human rights abuses. The panel at the meeting agreed that that situation was problematic; however, the meeting was designed to foster cooperation. The United States’ mission to the United Nations expressed military interests, not diplomatic ones.
Finally, when the HLPF turned to reviewing countries’ progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the United States fell silent. Developing nations from across the world presented their achievements and sought development assistance. Almost every developed country dialogued with these states on the goals. Global powers worked with countries they wanted to trade and build ties with. For example, Russian Federation- who are notably working on a transcontinental highway- talked with, and invested in neighboring countries to grow their infrastructure. Moreover, Norway demonstrated that they want to be an international player by speaking over seventeen times in official meetings.
The United States contrasted all these behaviors by not speaking once during voluntary national reviews. They showed no outward interest in building ties with neighbors or allies, nor did they express willingness to invest in other country’s progress toward the UN’s goals. At the High-Level Political Forum, the United States showed what its international interest- or lack of- is. They are not noticeably interested in Agenda 2030 and have given a green light for diplomats to make decisions without them.