Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
August 29, 2022
Thank you, Madame President
I deliver this statement on behalf of the following countries, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, EU as a donor, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and my own country, the United States of America.
We take this opportunity to underscore our collective commitment to organizational integrity as we continue to navigate our way through what has transpired within UNOPS.
We believe all UNOPS partners, whether program country, donor country, or institution; UNOPS staff; and UNOPS beneficiaries deserve the Executive Board’s time and attention. The Board has a duty to guide UNOPS towards a better future – one with renewed global credibility and trust and a laser focus on improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
We would like to underscore some key messages for UNOPS and the Executive Board:
First, we continue to support UNOPS staff in their work and express our deep gratitude to UNOPS staff for their commitment to continuing to deliver for UNOPS’ beneficiaries under very challenging circumstances. We appreciate their efforts to manage very difficult conversations with partners in defense of UNOPS’ valuable work. We want to reassure UNOPS staff that your best interests are top of mind, and we hope that our efforts help you look forward to renewing your motivation and enthusiasm to deliver on UNOPS’ mandate worldwide.
Second, we are committed to working with the Interim Executive Director and thank him for his partnership with the Executive Board. We appreciate his expressed commitment of full implementation of the decisions of the Executive Board. We know you have taken on a difficult task, and we believe the work we do together, in faith, trust, and confidence, will bring lasting positive impacts for UNOPS and the UN system as a whole. Most importantly, we will bring lasting impact for our collective efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including for those vulnerable populations it is UNOPS’ mandate to serve and protect.
Third, we are committed to seeking full accountability for what has transpired within UNOPS. We expect all members of UNOPS’ leadership implicated in the decision-making that led to the potential losses incurred by the S3i initiative to be held accountable. We will continue to call on UN leadership and you, Mr. Interim Executive Director, to ensure full accountability, concerted action, and lasting results. UNOPS partners, staff, and beneficiaries deserve it. This, most importantly, is the key to restoring UNOPS’ global credibility as a partner.
Fourth, we are committed to ensuring that UNOPS establishes a more transparent business model, one that leaves no doubt about UNOPS’ mandate, motivations, and commitment to delivering results for its intended beneficiaries. We look forward to working with UNOPS, including leading up to and during the 2023 First Regular Session of the Executive Board, to discuss ways to increase transparency around UNOPS’ pricing model, reserves structure, and project execution and delivery, including the future of the S3i initiative.
We thank the Working Group for consultations throughout the summer on the future use of UNOPS’ reserves. We also thank UNOPS for its responsiveness to the Working Group’s requests. In this regard, we would like to stress that future decisions regarding UNOPS reserves can only come after accountability. Until we understand that all available steps have been taken to assure partners that UNOPS leadership are responsible stewards of taxpayers’ money, we will continue to restrict UNOPS’ reserves to the Operational Reserve for daily operations only. We look forward to future discussion on these issues.
We call on the Interim Executive Director to ensure the third-party reviews are thorough, independent, and provide the analysis the Executive Board needs to take future action that will support UNOPS’ best interests. We expect the results of these reviews to be presented to the Executive Board at the earliest possible time upon completion to allow for immediate discussion and follow-up, and no later than the First Regular Session of 2023.
I close by reiterating that we will continue to work with UNOPS and partners to find the best way forward for restoring UNOPS’ credibility as a partner within the UN system and around the world.