Remarks at a Meeting of the United Nations Development Program Executive Board

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 6, 2018


Thank you, Madam President. On behalf of the United States, I would like to recognize Achim for his leadership, in particular for UNDP’s work to make the development system truly deliver better results on the ground.

As UNDP adapts its strategic planning to the impending reforms, a strong focus on peace, security, and prosperity should remain the core of UNDP’s work. UNDP’s most valuable work to foster truly sustainable development focuses on addressing the issues that undermine sustainable economic growth — such as social, economic, and political exclusions, the lack of rule of law, and disrespect for human rights.

UNDP should also continue to focus on addressing factors that derail social cohesion and economic growth altogether, such as conflict, radicalization, and violent extremism. The Secretary-General, the General Assembly resolutions on development system reform, and the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, QCPR, have all emphasized the importance of these issues in the UN’s work – with UNDP as a key player.

Peace, security, and sustainable development are mutually reinforcing, and the more efficient and effective UN Development System envisioned in the reform agenda should help countries build resilience. UNDP should continue to play an active and leading role in the UN Development System to work in these areas.

Achim, you have called for UNDP to be a thought leader on development issues, a resource for countries that are trying to execute sound development policy. That leadership should certainly build on UNDP’s continued focus on the key factors I just described. Short cuts to economic prosperity and social development that set aside the rule of law, human rights, good governance, and participation of civil society – and that mortgage countries’ economic futures and national patrimonies – can only undermine truly sustainable development, especially for the most vulnerable.

Transparency and accountability are vital. We appreciate UNDP’s update to the Board on the elements of the transition and its financial and operational implications and expect thorough reporting to continue. As my dear Rwandan colleague noted earlier today, reform of the system should not lead to a drop-off in the quality of service delivery; rather we expect the reform to lead to improvements. To this end, we support UNDP’s engagement with the Secretary-General’s transition team to ensure smooth and effective implementation of the UNDS reform resolution.

Separating UNDP’s Resident Representative, RR, from the role of the UN Resident Coordinator, RC, will have an impact on UNDP’s work at country-level, there is no question, but we fully expect that it can and should be a positive one and encourage UNDP to view it as having this potential. By shedding the burdens of the RC system, we believe UNDP will be empowered to renew its focus, continue to streamline and tailor its bureaucracy to respond more nimbly and effectively to that focus, and improve service delivery in its areas of core competency. If UNDP is able to follow this path, it will go a long way towards changing the negative impressions of UNDP that Achim lamented this morning.

We want to reiterate a position we have articulated previously at the Board and during the UNDS reform negotiations that the UNDP Executive Board remains the authoritative, global decision-making body for UNDP. UNDP management is accountable to this Board. This should govern the structure of any future working relationship between UNDP and DOCO.

While UNDP should be a key part of the new country team led by the independent RC, UNDP management is ultimately answerable to the Board in the formulation and implementation of the organization’s program, budgetary, and operational policies.

Madame President, the United States remains supportive of the good work that UNDP is doing, commends the leadership of Administrator Steiner and his team, and looks forward to working with you, our fellow Member States, and other UNDP management to make this a productive Board session. Thank you.