Remarks at a General Assembly Plenary Meeting on Agenda Item 123: Strengthening the UN System

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 14, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States attaches great importance to the work of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. The ACABQ’s technical expertise and recommendations have formed the basis for many decisions by the Fifth Committee on complex issues. All Member States have a vital interest in the work of the ACABQ: in its overall functioning, composition, and working methods. With this in mind, we do not support an enlargement of the ACABQ. We further reject the assertion by the Palestinian representative that geographic representation overrides all other principles, including the good of the Organization.

Historically, all decisions to make changes to the functioning, composition, or working methods of the ACABQ have been taken in the Fifth Committee. This key fact has been conveniently left out. We have a regular standing agenda item in the Fifth Committee for this purpose, and that is where the discussion of the issues raised in the resolution introduced by the G-77 and Chinashould have taken place. An expansion of the ACABQ would impact the UN budgetary process and overall functioning of the Organization, and these matters are clearly within the purview of the Fifth Committee.

My delegation wishes to express our deep concern regarding the action of the G-77 and China to table this resolution in this forum, ignoring the clear prerogative of the Fifth Committee and without any attempt to reach consensus. This action demonstrates bad faith on the part of the penholders and sets the precedent that any group of Member States may circumvent consensus when it suits them. This undermines the spirit of trust, compromise, and consensus that underpins budgetary decisions and serves as a disincentive to reach consensus on difficult issues in future negotiations. This, in turn, puts at risk the orderly financing and functioning of the Organization.

When the ACABQ was previously enlarged in 1961, 1971, and 1977, the Fifth Committee deliberated, and decided on those enlargements by consensus. There is no legitimate reason to change precedent, particularly when all other delegations (including the United States) have repeatedly expressed our willingness to engage on this issue in the next Fifth Committee session which begins in seven weeks. The only rationale from the penholders has been that this is a priority issue for the G-77 and China, which thereby precludes the need for consensus. My delegation does not accept this argument.    

Mr. President, considering the expansion of the ACABQ in isolation, without any discussion of how this will impact the ACABQ’s functioning, is also irresponsible. At a minimum, this expansion will further delay the issuance of ACABQ reports, which will in turn negatively impact the already lengthy decision-making process in the Fifth Committee. The proposed expansion also maintains the requisite number of financial experts at three, further diluting the expertise and administrative acumen currently held in the ACABQ.

Mr. President, my delegation is open to discussing on all issues related to the functioning, composition, and working methods of the ACABQ with a view to achieving a consensus-based outcome consistent with the working methods and procedural mandate of the Fifth Committee.  In this regard, my delegation supports the amendment proposed by the European Union.