Remarks at the Closing Session of the General Assembly Fifth Committee

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 30, 2020


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The United States would like to briefly share the context for its call for a vote and its overview of the budget resolution. I will be brief.

The United States regrets that the membership of this Committee made the decision to retain funding in the budget counter to the principles of the UN Charter and against the sincere requests of the most generous UN donor.

We object strongly to U.S. taxpayer dollars going to support a follow-up event to the Durban Conference. The Durban Conference and its outcomes remain as poisonous as ever. As I said earlier this evening, they have set back international cooperation to combat racism and racial discrimination now for two decades.

Moreover, we are disappointed in the response to our proposed language supporting the re-establishment of a UN 1737 Sanctions Committee on Iran as well as the 1929 Panel of Experts, both important checks on sanctions violations by Iran and its allies in the region.

To those who continue to challenge the United States’ ability to trigger the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, we would reiterate that we followed the process outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2231 faithfully. It is not the United States that has politicized this process, but rather those Security Council Member States that continue to reject our rightful re-imposition of sanctions because it interferes with their political considerations outside of the Council.

Let me say, too, that we recognize the budget includes a number of provisions that we believe are essential to further strengthen and implement reform throughout the UN while enhancing and maintaining efficiency and budget stewardship. For example, this budget includes provisions to grant Member States access to key accounting information – namely total monthly expenditures and cash-on-hand by section. The United States shares the Secretariat’s concerns about liquidity, and we believe this provision will enable Member States to better evaluate what is the cause of the liquidity problem.

While discussions on construction – especially in the context of COVID-19 related delays – were difficult, we appreciate that agreement was reached to facilitate watchful oversight without micromanagement. Further, given the annual budget is still in its pilot period, we are encouraged the committee ultimately protected this important reform from unnecessary changes.

And the United States also appreciates that the total budget number comes in below ACABQ recommendations.

We also welcome the agreement to carry out an assessment of the tasks, and only the tasks, being performed by the staff of the treaty body mechanism.

Despite our vote today on the budget, my delegation wants to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your efforts in facilitating our negotiations. I would also like to thank the Fifth Committee Secretariat, Mr. Berridge, and his hard-working team along with Under Secretary-General Catherine Pollard and Assistant Secretary-General and Controller Mr. Ramanathan for their engagement and their team’s hard work in supporting the Committee – particularly in the midst of the logistical constraints imposed due to COVID-19.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, let there be no misrepresenting what our vote on the budget today means. Since the UN’s inception, there has been no greater or more reliable partner for the UN than the United States. That will not change as a result of this vote, a vote we took because we could not stand by and watch as this body failed to live up to its core mission and values.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.