Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Acting Executive Director Kanem for your statement. We would like to once again express our condolences to you and the UNFPA staff around the world at the sudden passing of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
Let me begin by acknowledging that UNFPA’s programs contribute to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, expanding access to voluntary family planning, combating gender-based violence, and addressing other harmful practices such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation or cutting. Performed successfully, this work is vital to the achievement of our shared health, education, and gender goals.
We note that UNFPA’s Strategic Plan and Annexes are well developed and aligned with its mandate, the QCPR, and other frameworks which can lay a strong foundation for its work over the next four years. We encourage UNFPA to continue to strive for a results-oriented organizational culture with an emphasis on increasing the evidence base for decision-making. This includes increasing the availability of data for monitoring and evaluation, particularly at the country level.
We know that voluntary family planning programs can improve maternal and child health outcomes and look forward to opportunities to further strengthen the technical collaboration between the United States and UNFPA to ensure the availability of high-quality, voluntary family planning methods. To meet our shared goals we encourage UNFPA to focus on addressing anticipated shortfalls in funding and the need for increased country allocation of resources for commodity procurement.
My delegation understands that the new strategic plan includes an expanded role for UNFPA in the humanitarian sector. We recognize the Fund’s efforts to increase maternal and reproductive health care services as well as programs that address gender-based violence. We strongly encourage UNFPA to set clear priorities that guide its leadership and coordination responsibilities at the global and field-level and explore closer partnerships and joint programming with other organizations, and with the Global Protection Cluster and the Child Protection Area of Responsibility. It is also vital to establish long-term program planning processes that take into account fluctuations in donor funding to ensure the Fund is able to maintain operations, including in crisis and humanitarian settings. We note UNFPA’s role as the lead of the GBV Area of Responsibility, recognizing the Fund’s efforts to advance our collective work around GBV in emergencies, and are hopeful that we will see continued progress in this area.
Regarding the annual report on evaluation, the United States appreciates the increased use of evaluations to inform programing, improved follow-up on evaluation recommendations and broader dissemination of evaluation results. We support the report’s recommendation that the integrated budget process for 2018-2021 include a review of the budget for the evaluation function to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated for the agreed level of evaluation coverage in order to meet accountability and learning needs required for the new strategic plan.
As is well known to many, since the last meeting of the Executive Board, the United States made the decision to discontinue financial support to UNFPA, consistent with U.S. law.
The United States determined that UNFPA continues to partner on family planning activities with the Chinese government agency responsible for implementing China’s coercive family planning policies. The United States has a long-standing policy to oppose programs that support coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization and is aware of UNFPA’s public disapproval of China’s coercive family planning policies. Nonetheless, by continuing to partner on family planning activities with the Chinese agency responsible for implementing China’s coercive policies, we have determined that UNFPA supports these activities. We strongly encourage UNFPA to decline to work with governments in countries that have coercive family planning policies inconsistent with the 1994 ICPD Program of Action.
In conclusion, the United States will remain a responsible, constructive, and transparent partner on the Executive Board. We believe the technical collaboration between the United States and UNFPA is important, particularly in addressing gender-based violence and reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. I would like to express my delegation’s desire for a productive annual executive board session in 2017.