[Ip-health] US ‘threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions’ if it introduced UN breastfeeding resolution

Nicolas Roux nicolas.bilaterals at gmail.com
Mon Jul 9 03:02:20 PDT 2018



Donald Trump <https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/DonaldTrump>’s 
administration has threatened Ecuador 
<https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/Ecuador> with trade sanctions 
<https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/sanctions> if it introduces a 
United Nations <https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/UnitedNations> 
resolution to encouragebreastfeeding 

The US had supposedly asked for language asking governments to “protect, 
promote, and support breastfeeding” to be removed. The resolution 
ultimately passed but not before world health officials were shocked at 
the behaviour of the US delegation at the May UN World Health 
Assembley in Geneva, the /New York Times/ reported 

Ecuadorians, facing having important military aid from the US rescinded 
on top of harsh sanctions on critical goods, backed down. But, the US 
did not threaten Russia in the same manner.

An unnamed Russian delegate said the country stepped up to back and help 
pass the resolution because they felt  “it is wrong when a big country 
tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue 
that is really important for the rest of the world".

The delegation was also opposed to another section of the resolution 
which called on countries to curtail promotion of products that medical 
experts agreed could cause harm to children according to more than a 
dozen delegates to the health meeting, the majority of whom "requested 
anonymity because they feared retaliation from the US," according to the 

Though US efforts were unsuccessful since the bulk of the original 
wording survived two whole days of procedural talks, language calling 
for “inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children" to 
end was removed due to US efforts.

The US mission to the UN nor the State Department responded to a request 
for comment.

It appeared, however, the US was asking to have the language removed as 
a sign of support for the $70bn infant formula industry which relies on 
mothers not exclusively breastfeeding. Baby food lobbyists were in 
attendance as observers to the meeting.

Patti Rundall, policy director for UK-based advocacy group Baby Milk 
Action, has attended several of these meetings in the past and said what 
the US did was "tantamount to blackmail". She said it "holding the world 
hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on [the] 
best way to protect infant and young child health".

The US also reportedly threatened to cut its contributions to the World 
Health Organisation <https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/who> - the US 
contributes almost 15 per cent of the agency's budget or $845m last year 
- if the resolution was introduced and passed. In light of the threat on 
Ecuador, other poorer countries in Latin America and Africa refused to 
introduce the resolution out of fear of American retaliation which left 
Russia to push it through.

A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS 
spokesperson, who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “The resolution 
as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to 
provide nutrition to their children. We recognise not all women are able 
to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the 
choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and 
not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so". HHS 
was not involved in the diplomatic negotiations.

The move follows a trend of the Trump administration to play into 
considerations of private industry and eschew cooperation in 
multilateral organisations and treaties like the North American Free 
Trade Agreement (Nafta <https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/nafta>), the 
global UN Paris Agreement 
<https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/paris-agreement> on climate change 
<https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/climate-change>, the North Atlantic 
Treaty Organisation (Nato <https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/Nato>), 
and various trade agreements.

** 	*Nicolas Roux***
Skype: caveman3k



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