Remarks at the UNICEF Executive Board’s First Regular Session of 2017

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
February 7, 2017



Thank you, Mr. President. I congratulate you and the rest of the bureau members on your election. We look forward to working with you constructively over the coming year. And Executive Director Lake, thank you for another comprehensive statement that challenges us to focus on the strategic issues that will make a real difference for children.

I also want to extend a sincere thank you to the brave and dedicated staff members of UNICEF, who work so tirelessly around the globe and do so increasingly in the most difficult and the most dangerous situations. Simply put, UNICEF is an invaluable partner: you are on the ground before, during, and after conflicts and emergencies; you work to prevent child mortality through access to healthcare, proper nutrition, and immunizations against diseases; you ensure equal education opportunities for boys and girls, to address the unique needs of children on the move and those caught in crisis and conflict; and you promote the role of adolescents in peacebuilding. Whether it is providing life-saving assistance to children who are internally displaced by conflict in South Sudan or eastern Mosul, or advocating for the protection of children’s rights in Myanmar, or partnering with the private sector on early childhood development tools, we support UNICEF’s global efforts to protect the rights of children and to provide services to all vulnerable children so that no child is left behind.

2017 is a critical year, as we will adopt a new set of strategic plans for all of the UN funds and programs. This will be the first set of strategic plans since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other major outcome documents, such as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and New Urban Agenda, as well as the articulation of the World Humanitarian Summit commitments, the Grand Bargain, and the completion of the new Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, the QCPR.

We thank UNICEF for the updates you have provided in the last few weeks on the progress in drafting your new strategic plan. The outline is thorough and appropriately focused on key goals with both short and long-term horizons. We appreciate that it is designed to support the broader objectives of the 2030 Agenda, while also highlighting UNICEF’s areas of comparative advantage. We look forward to engaging with UNICEF in the coming months to develop the initial draft plan.

We appreciate UNICEF’s continued prioritization of key child survival and related challenges in line with SDG health and related targets aimed at ending preventable child and maternal deaths. This remains a central U.S. government priority. We look forward to working with UNICEF to ensure that the new strategy reflects the right balance between delivery of life-saving interventions and support for early childhood development.

We welcome additional information from UNICEF management on how the new strategic plan will promote greater efficiency and effectiveness. In line with the key messages of the QCPR, we should ensure that the new strategy better enables UNICEF to leverage its core strengths in complementing the contributions of other UN agencies and partners to avoid wasteful duplication.

We are pleased with UNICEF’s efforts to enhance results-based budgeting at all levels of the organization, including through procedural, technological, and training improvements. UNICEF’s ascension to third place out of 46 in the annual International Aid Transparency Index is a testament to its efforts to increase transparency.

The United States is also pleased that UNICEF has exceeded its private fundraising targets for 2016 and is setting even higher targets for 2017 despite a challenging budget environment. The United States strongly supports UNICEF in finding new and innovative ways to expand and deepen the private sector’s involvement in development and humanitarian assistance to children. The United States looks forward to working with UNICEF in this regard.

The U.S. remains a steadfast partner as we look toward protecting and improving the lives of the world’s children. We appreciate UNICEF’s role as a strong and vocal advocate for children in all contexts as we strive to implement the goals we set out in the 2030 Agenda and ensure that every child is truly given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

Thank you.