Remarks at the United Nations Development Program Executive Board

Hector Brown
U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York City
January 21, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. As the implementation of the UN development system reform officially begins, the United States would like to use this Board meeting to articulate our expectations for UNDP’s work in terms of both substantive focus areas and its organizational relationship with the new Resident Coordinator system.

In terms of its substantive focus, we expect UNDP to continue to play a leading role in the UN development system to address fundamental issues affecting development, including good governance, the rule of law, respect for human rights, conflict prevention, combating corruption, and preventing violent extremism. UNDP’s 2018-2021strategic plan should continue to guide its work in this regard. We are particularly pleased to learn that UNDP is re-building its capacity to work in the areas of conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. We strongly encourage UNDP to re-double its efforts to implement its strategic plan and look forward to receiving information on progress made.

As relationships unfold between agencies and the new Resident Coordinator structure, the United States will support pragmatic approaches that strike the right balance between, on the one hand, fostering greater coherence and coordination in the UN country team, and on the other, empowering agencies to remain flexible and take initiative in order to respond to the needs on the ground. We consider results on the ground the ultimate test of the success of individual agencies and the new RC system.

We would like to reiterate that going forward this Executive Board is, and will remain, the authoritative, global decision-making body for UNDP, and UNDP management remains accountable to this Board. The independent oversight offices in UNDP – the Evaluation Office, the Office of Audit and Investigation, and the Ethics Office – play a critical role in assisting the management and this Board to discharge their oversight responsibilities. We would like to recognize the good work of these offices.

We would like to highlight in particular that the development of a UNDP Code of Ethics is an important achievement, and recognize UNDP management’s support for the ethics office. We strongly encourage the management to continue to assess workplace environment, take actions to promote ethical conduct, and encourage staff to report misconduct without fear of retaliation, including allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse and workplace harassment.

Mr. President, I would like to preview some issues on the Board’s agenda that we will be discussing in more detail when the Board deals with relevant agenda items.

On the evaluation of UNDP’s support for poverty reduction in the least developed countries, we are pleased to learn that UNDP’s work in several important, innovative areas – including impact investment, private sector partnerships, youth employment, and post-conflict economic recovery – is contributing to development efforts in LDCs. It is also clear that UNDP can do more to improve the impact of this work, through creating more open national enabling environments by working with government on supportive policies, and by coordinating closely with sister UN agencies and other organizations working in similar areas to achieve greater program scale and coherence.

On the Board of Auditors Report, we welcome the “unqualified”/clean audit opinion UNDP received from the BoA and acknowledge the progress UNDP management has made in implementing BoA recommendations. At the same time, we reiterate our call for enhanced management attention to addressing recurring audit findings including procurement, fraud prevention, recovery of assets, and work with program implementation partners. In particular, we note that a number of shortcomings in oversight of the South-South Office that were identified in past audits that have not been fully addressed. In view of the convening of the BAPA+40 conference on South-South cooperation, we feel it is timely for UNDP to ensure that this office is functioning in a more effective and well-managed fashion. We would also like to draw senior management’s attention to the need for a realistic budget process to bring budgeted resources in closer alignment with expenditures.

Mr. President, the United States looks forward to working with member states at this Board and beyond to ensure UNDP delivers successfully on its development mandate.

Thank you.