Remarks at the Conclusion of Work of the Fifth Committee for the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Minister Counselor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 5, 2018


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We have just concluded an historic session of the Fifth Committee that stretched all delegations beyond what we thought was capable. Nevertheless, this Committee approved a responsible UN Peacekeeping budget that adequately funds peacekeeping missions, ensures fiscal discipline, streamlines operations where needed, and advances better ways of working. Member States also made good on their political support for the Secretary-General and for his vision for reform and shifting the organization’s management paradigm by approving in large part his restructuring of the peace and security architecture and the UN management structure, the first such overhaul of its kind in over 40 years.

The committee additionally considered several items beyond the normal scope of its work during the second resumed part of the session, including accountability, the global service delivery model, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the information and communications technology strategy, and the revised budgets for Afghanistan and Iraq. The committee once again rose to the occasion and properly addressed each of these issues and provided needed guidance to the organization.

The decisions that Member States have taken on management reform and peace and security reform will help the United Nations more effectively tackle global challenges by breaking down silos, simplifying and streamlining the UN’s bureaucracy, and focus on achieving results. The UN truly shows its value when it addresses the world’s most pressing challenges and conflicts in an efficient, effective, and accountable manner. By endorsing the Secretary-General’s proposal to restructure the peace and security pillar, Member States have supported the Secretary-General’s focus on conflict prevention and peacebuilding in order to advance political solutions towards conflict resolution, and, by extension, may limit the need for peacekeeping missions. We have also approved improvements in the UN’s coordination between its political and operational work through the creation of the single political-operational structure.

On management reform, the organization’s ability to effectively deliver on its mandates has been improved. Critical functional areas such as supply chain management, information and communications technology, and budget and finance have all been restructured to enhance coherence, accountability, transparency, and speed. But our work is not yet done. We look forward to reaching consensus on restructuring reform of human resource management during the upcoming main part of the 73rd session. We remain committed to supporting the Secretary-General in the weeks and months ahead as he and his senior management team lead the critical change management process that is necessary for effective implementation of changes underway by the target date of January 1, 2019.

Underpinning the overhaul of structures and processes is the need for a strong accountability system that incorporates strong performance management, checks and balances of sensitive duties, and effectively addresses improper conduct, such as sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and abuse. We as Member States and the leadership of the organization must remain focused on these areas in the months ahead

This ambitious agenda is also complemented by the fiscal discipline that continues to be applied to the organization, including through the adoption of the peacekeeping budget of $6.69 billion, a responsible reduction of 6 percent, inclusive of full year budget estimates. This reflects efficiencies in peacekeeping missions writ large and changes on the ground for UNISFA and Darfur, but also allows missions to fully fulfill their mandates. But this budget discipline should not be undermined by any additional requests unless truly unforeseen or mandated.

Mr. Chairman, before I conclude, let me thank you for your leadership, wisdom and guidance throughout the entire session. Your personal and consistent engagement was key to the session’s successful conclusion. We wish you continued success as you move beyond the Fifth Committee. Thank you as well to the Fifth Committee Secretariat staff led ably by Sharon van Buerle, as well as the interpreters and sound engineers for their professionalism and dedication. The successful conclusion to this session would also not have been possible without the Committee’s bureau and all of the coordinators. Thank you all for effectively guiding us through this very heavy agenda.

My delegation would also like to express its sincere appreciation to the Secretariat officials for their efforts in helping us reach consensus, in particular Chef de Cabinet Viotti and Under-Secretaries-General Beagle and Khare for their leadership and support. I would also like to recognize Christian Saunders, Maria Costa, Rick Martin, Arnab Roy, and Karen Lock. Your expertise is invaluable, and your commitment to helping this Committee take informed decisions over the past two months was essential.

Finally, yet importantly, I would like to convey best wishes to all of our departing Fifth Committee colleagues who will move on to new assignments this summer. We will miss your friendship, collegiality and support.

And we wish everyone an enjoyable and restful summer. Thank you.