Remarks at the Closing of the UN Fifth Committee Main Session

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


Today, we conclude months of difficult budget negotiations. Throughout this long process, I’ve marveled at the dedication of not just my staff but all the delegates on this committee, especially during this holiday week. While it is customary to first thank the committee chair and the Secretariat staff, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the hardworking delegates who made this budget possible. You exemplify the very best of this institution.

It’s often said that budgets are a reflection of our values. This fiscally responsible budget will enable the United Nations to maintain peace and security, foster economic development, promote universal human rights, and uphold the rules-based international order. Most notably, by funding the Black Sea Grain Initiative, this budget helps to address the humanitarian crisis caused by food insecurity. For these reasons, the U.S. is proud to support this budget.

We also lend our strong support to one of the Secretary-General’s top management reforms. The annual budget will become a permanent feature after today. This important reform advances the values of transparency and accountability, and it creates a more agile UN that is better able to address the global challenges of the 21st century.

In this session, the U.S. has worked hard to improve the functioning of the UN. This budget provides funding to fight sexual exploitation and abuse and strengthen protections against workplace harassment. We have eliminated different cost-of-living adjustments that undermine the integrity of the UN common system. And we have taken the first step in ensuring the UN Office in Nairobi has a modern conference center, befitting its important status as the UN headquarters in Africa.

During this session, we have also ensured that the UN’s values are reflected in the way we treat the public servants who work here. Greater support is provided to expectant parents, as well as parents caring for children with disabilities. And pension benefits are provided retroactively for previously ineligible same-sex marriage partners. Collectively, these and other changes will help the UN recruit and retain the diverse, high-quality staff needed to address global challenges.

Despite our support for this budget, we are troubled by the concerted effort of a small number of countries to undermine a core pillar of the UN: human rights. These countries have resisted efforts to guarantee more predictable funding streams for recurring mandates of the Human Rights Council, despite a General Assembly resolution last year calling for such predictability.

Fortunately, we are pleased that the Fifth Committee has restored funding today for this important work. And we remain committed to ensuring that these human rights mandates are funded in a more predictable manner in the future.

While we can all find something to like and dislike in this budget, it’s no understatement to say that we all share a common dislike and frustration with how today’s outcome was reached. The current UN budget process is inefficient, it is dysfunctional, and most importantly, it too often leads to bad outcomes and constant deferrals of important decisions. Regardless of our ideological differences, we need to engage in a serious reexamination of how this committee does its work. Our current practice has brought us to within 32 hours of shutting down the UN. That’s not good for this institution, the countries we represent, or the people around the world who depend on the UN’s assistance.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.