Remarks at the UN Population Fund Executive Board Meeting

Courtney Nemroff
Deputy U.S. Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 4, 2018


Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Dr. Kanem, for your statement.

The United States is committed to improving maternal health worldwide and to ending preventable child deaths. We will continue to lead promotion of the health of women and girls, adolescents, and children, including through efforts to provide access to health care across the lifespan that allows women and their families to achieve optimal health, including needs-based responses in both development and humanitarian settings.

My government is also committed to empowering women and girls by increasing their educational and financial opportunities, while ending child, early, and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. This includes preventing and responding to gender-based violence, and preventing sexual exploitation and abuse. By caring for, protecting, and empowering women and children, we enable them to realize their full potential as individuals.

We know that women and girls have increased needs for health care, especially in conflict settings and in the midst of humanitarian emergencies. They are often the last to receive assistance and rarely prioritized when communities are consulted on the design and implementation of interventions, resulting in assistance that is insufficient to meet their needs. For this reason, specific programming for women and girls should be implemented at the outset of every emergency, as UNFPA has indicated it would do. However, at no time should UNFPA’s approach include coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization, issues that continue to result in withdrawn U.S. funding pursuant to the President’s directive and U.S. domestic law.

The United States is the leading provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide and takes seriously its responsibility to ensure its employees, partners, and UN entities with which we engage are actively working to protect the populations we all serve, including from sexual exploitation and abuse. My government looks forward to advancing this issue in collaboration with our UN partners and fellow Member States.

We recognize UNFPA’s efforts to work with Member States and other UN agencies to build a more strategic, coherent, and results-oriented UN system. We continue to urge our UN partners to prioritize more adaptive approaches that focus on their comparative advantages, and improve collaboration and coordination to better meet reform goals of the UN Development System. UNFPA should continue to focus on efforts to improve the effectiveness, accountability, and responsiveness of its activities, which will lead to less bureaucracy, less overhead, better performance, and improved flexibility. An inclusive and transparent approach will ensure stronger outcomes and advance our shared goals of significantly reducing maternal morbidity and mortality as well as gender-based violence and other harmful practices against women and girls.

In particular, my delegation notes that UNFPA has improved its engagement with program countries, which resulted in a significant increase in the amount some countries contributed toward their own programs in 2017. For example, $61 million was contributed in 2017 versus only $23 million in 2016. We encourage UNFPA to continue to prioritize its outreach with program country governments with the aim of greater burden sharing and, ideally, working ourselves out of a job so that the countries you serve become self-reliant.

With respect to cost recovery, my delegation would like to underscore the importance of achieving greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness. In this vein, we encourage UNFPA to keep all costs low, including management costs and other costs associated with the implementation of projects funded with earmarked contributions. Reducing duplication is also critical to keeping costs low. The costs UNFPA intends to recover must reflect the efficiencies the organization can and should achieve, and we look forward to working with fellow executive board members on charting a path forward with regard to this matter.

In closing, Madam President, the United States looks forward to working with UNFPA’s leadership and fellow members of the Executive Board on these matters in the year ahead.

Thank you.