Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
June 29, 2022
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As your chairmanship comes to an end, I want to thank you, on behalf of the United States, for your leadership and support of this committee.
Today, we have reached agreement on the budgets for the ten active United Nations peacekeeping operations, as well as the support mission in Somalia, the service centers in Brindisi, Valencia, and Entebbe, and headquarters backstopping. This budget of $6.45 billion will allow the UN to do its peacekeeping work effectively and efficiently, while recognizing rising costs and other pressures.
I want to thank the Secretariat for publishing mission costings on a rolling basis. This was a new and difficult task for the Secretariat, but it improved the efficiency of our deliberations. We hope this will spur other innovations to help us complete our work on time.
The United States is especially pleased that our committee was able to agree on the first cross-cutting policy resolution since 2016. This resolution is an important assertion of the committee’s responsibility to conduct oversight and provide policy guidance to the Secretariat. Included in this resolution are important reforms that will improve the living conditions of troops in forward bases, raise the recreational leave allowance for troops for the first time in decades, strengthen the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping and political solutions, promote greater transparency and accountability for all forms of misconduct, including sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment, and, finally, improve the measurement of mission performance.
Today, we are also taking an important step towards improving the financial situation of the regular budget by increasing the working capital fund by $100 million, utilizing money from credits, and allowing the regular budget to cash pool with tribunals. These measures will improve the liquidity of the regular budget and allow us to return long-outstanding reimbursements to troop contributing countries for closed peacekeeping operations and return the remainder to Member States.
The steps we have taken today to reform peacekeeping missions and address the UN’s financial situation show how Member States can negotiate and come to agreement on matters of critical importance.
However, this session, we have also seen how Member States fail to deal adequately with important matters like racism and discrimination. According to a recent survey of UN staff, one in three respondents said they had experienced discrimination at work. Many of these employees said they did not report the discrimination because they lacked trust in the system or feared retaliation.
To address this very real problem, the Secretary-General put forward a proposal to create an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the UN. While some additional staff positions are being approved through this work for a very limited amount of time, there was no consensus among Member States to create an actual office. That is embarrassing, that is shameful.
Every day, UN employees risk their lives to provide security and assistance to those in need, yet we refuse to acknowledge the very real needs of those employees. Our failure to act also sends an unfortunate message about the sincerity of the UN’s commitment to addressing discrimination in all forms, whether it is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or sexual identity.
In so much of our work at the UN, we talk about lofty values like equality, fairness, and integrity; then when it comes to applying these values to the management of this organization, we do something completely different. We owe it to the UN staff to do better.