Remarks at the Opening Session of the Fifth Committee

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Minister Counselor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 7, 2018


Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is very good to see you and all colleagues here this morning. My delegation looks forward to working with you and other colleagues in the weeks ahead. I would also like to thank Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, and Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chairman of the ABABQ, for being here today. I would also like to thank the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management’s leadership for the efforts they have taken to issue almost all reports before the start of this session. And to Ms. Sharon van Buerle and her team, thank you for your continued support to the Committee’s work.

At the outset, my delegation would like to pay tribute to those men and women who serve the United Nations, including those who have given their lives in the cause of peace.

I have a few preliminary comments regarding the issues that this Committee will consider during this second resumed part of the seventy-second session.

UN peacekeeping operations remain essential tools for maintaining international peace and security. The role of this Committee, in partnership with the Secretariat, is to ensure that peacekeeping operations continuously strive for efficiency and effectiveness in implementing their mandates and holding uniform and civilian personnel to the highest standards of performance. Given that the majority of UN uniformed and civilian personnel are deployed in active conflict zones, words like efficiency and effectiveness and performance take on a more serious meaning: safety and security of peacekeepers, protection of civilians from violence, expansion of state authority, and promotion of human rights. With these very real and critical issues at stake, missions must demonstrate both concrete results and how the significant investments made by Member States have translated into these results.

Efficiency is essential. We each have a duty to our taxpayers to ensure that their resources are being used wisely. In this regard, we are carefully examining the Secretary-General’s budget request for FY 2018/2019 of $7.26 billion, noting that this is an overall decrease of less than one percent over the current budget. We appreciate the efforts of the Secretariat and missions to ensure that resources are clearly linked to mandated activities, to achieve cost savings, and to implement structural changes to address inefficiencies, such as the Secretary-General’s recent review of air operations. This Committee has an important responsibility to ensure that peacekeeping budgets reflect actual requirements, are driven by realistic planning assumptions, and reflect demonstrable benefits from ongoing management initiatives.

My delegation also supports the Secretary-General’s efforts to improve the performance of peacekeeping missions. We strongly support policies that enable and incentivize overall mission performance, the performance of its civilian, military, and police components, as well as performance of support staff in Headquarters. This requires clear performance standards and accountability measures. Especially in decisions regarding mission resources, Member States must have a clear picture of what is working and what is not. We remain committed to initiatives that improve peacekeeping, including generating required capabilities, as well as accountability for poor performance and misconduct, particularly sexual exploitation and abuse. We continue to support efforts to strengthen mission leadership, improve planning and analysis, and to integrate modern technology. We look forward to discussing many of these topics in the context of troop reimbursement and the broader negotiations on cross-cutting policy issues.

Mr. Chair, our efforts to bring more efficiency and effectiveness to peacekeeping must occur in the over-arching context of UN reform. My delegation welcomes the commitment of Secretary-General to reform the United Nations, including in the areas of peace and security and management. We look forward to considering the Secretary-General’s proposal on the Organization’s peace and security architecture and how it may better plan, manage, support, and transition missions in the field. We will also carefully consider reporting lines proposed and how to ensure policy and operations are properly aligned. On management reform, we also look forward to examining how these proposals will improve process delivery, strengthen accountability and maximize the systems and strategies in place, including Umoja and the Information and Communications Technology, ICT, strategy, to allow the Organization to be more efficient and effective. We thank the Secretary-General and his staff for seeking ensure that all reform initiatives remain aligned, including on the Global Service Delivery Model, GSDM, the ICT strategy, and on accountability.

In closing, we have a very packed agenda this session, as others have mentioned, and a relatively short amount of time to carefully consider all items and reach consensus. In that regard, we look forward to working closely and constructively with all delegations on all issues under consideration this session.

Thank you.