Remarks at a Special Session of the UN Office of Project Services Executive Board

Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
November 30, 2022


Madam President, first let me thank you for your tireless dedication to oversight and reform. Your leadership has enabled us to confront serious allegations of fraud and mismanagement at UNOPS and, as importantly, strengthen transparency and accountability throughout the UN system.

Mr. Acting Executive Director, the U.S. expresses our continued support for your efforts to reform UNOPS. We welcome the extension of your mandate, which will ensure that UNOPS is better positioned for a more productive future.

The U.S. is most appreciative of the UNOPS staff who have worked tirelessly to keep the agency’s core business functioning under very difficult circumstances. We acknowledge and reject the toxic concentration of power and culture of fear fostered by the prior senior management team. And we are encouraged that the new UNOPS leadership has prioritized staff morale and is regularly soliciting staff feedback to revitalize the agency’s culture.

With regard to accountability, the dismissal of several members of the Senior Leadership Team, in light of the KMPG findings, is a critical step towards restoring stakeholder and staff confidence in the organization. However, full accountability is necessary.

That is why we call – once again – for UN leadership to release the OIOS investigative report to the Board and Member States. More than six months after the OIOS report went to the Secretariat, it is absurd that we are still in the dark about what is in the report and what action has been taken in response to the report. Without access to this report, Member States and our respective capitals cannot be assured that full accountability is being proactively pursued by the UN system.

The United States appreciates the work performed by KPMG. We welcome KPMG’s recommendations and expect they will be taken on fully. The United States lends its support to several actions to address the KPMG recommendations, including:

  1. Prioritizing improving staff morale to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization.
  2. Providing a detailed action plan and timeline by the First Regular Session of 2023 of how you intend to implement the KMPG recommendations, as well as a list of any recommendations that you decide not to implement.
  3. Beginning work on a revised Strategic Plan 2022-2025 and presenting a framework for the revised Strategic Plan at the First Regular Session of 2023.
  4. Ensuring a full review of the ethics function, including complete implementation of the revised whistleblower policy.

I also believe, like the Executive Director, that we need to re-examine the whistleblower protections throughout the UN system.

To ensure that all reform recommendations have been fully implemented, the Executive Board needs to continue to conduct extraordinary oversight of UNOPS and include an agenda item at the 2023 First Regular Session and Annual Session relating to these reforms.

The United States offers its full support to efforts to strengthen the organization, implement all necessary reforms, restore trust in UNOPS, and defend the credibility and mandate of the entire UN development system. We would also like to take the Executive Director up on his invitation and receive an update today from the General Counsel on efforts to recover funds invested in S3i projects.

Thank you.