Remarks at the Adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution on UN Development System Reform

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 31, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President.

Over the last year, one of the U.S. Government’s highest priorities has been to shine a light on the UN and let the American people decide for themselves about the value of the organization. I know many of you feel the same way. Whether your country contributes one dollar or twenty-two percent of the UN’s budget, we all have to show our citizens that their investment in the UN yields results.

This is especially true for the UN development system, where the United States is the world’s largest investor. Every year, we contribute $1.7 billion to everything from improving education, to empowering women and girls, to promoting human rights and the rule of law. The American people do this because we want to work with the UN to help make the world a more stable and prosperous place for all of us.

Today, we are taking an important step toward achieving this goal, through the development of a more effective, accountable, responsive, and efficient UN platform – one that is fit for purpose. This resolution changes the way that the UN organizes and runs its development activities. Member states are giving the Secretary-General new and important responsibilities for oversight and coordination of the UN’s development work around the world.

It now will fall to the Secretary-General to ensure accountability for a more effective and more efficient development system. The United States expects that the reforms we adopt today will lead to less bureaucracy, less overhead, better performance, and improved flexibility of UN agencies to act quickly when necessary.

Implementing these changes won’t be easy, especially when we are talking about dozens of UN organizations with different structures, mandates, and funding sources. Moving forward, UN agencies will need to focus on their core mandates and comparative advantages, and make tough choices about low-priority activities.

Completing these reforms will require commitments by member states and UN staff to see this process through to completion. If we’re successful though, we won’t just save money, we’ll create a system that is more responsive to who need it the most.

Today’s resolution limits increases in assessed contributions for UN member states. That is critical, as we avoided a more than $200 million increase in the UN’s regular budget compared to what was first on the table. In government, it’s often easy to think that more money is the way to fix a problem, especially when we create something new to solve it. But, when we looked closer, and got creative, we found there are other ways to fund the UN’s work without asking our taxpayers to shoulder more of the burden.

The fact that we came together to adopt this resolution by consensus sends a strong positive signal. For that, I must take a moment to express our deep gratitude to the co-facilitators – Sabri and Ib. Together, we have committed to empower the Secretary-General to make important changes.

Getting development reform right is a goal that should unite us. The United States appreciates the work of the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, their staff, the co-facilitators, and all member states whose constructive efforts have brought us this far, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the SG and his team, and other member states to fully implement these changes.

Thank you.