Remarks at the UNOPS Executive Board Meeting, First Regular Session of 2023

Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
January 31, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States reiterates its support for the ambitious reform agenda of the UNOPS executive director Jens Wandel, and we thank him for his continued close consultation with the Executive Board. We also commend the UN for taking all appropriate and available action to pursue accountability for the S3i scandal, whether it is disciplinary action or the recovery of funds.

As UNOPS continues to implement this reform agenda and steer its focus back to its core business, we urge UNOPS management to continue to seek feedback from its staff and partners in a way that restores trust in the organization and motivates all staff to invest their talents and expertise into renewing UNOPS partnerships and contributions to accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The U.S. appreciates the comprehensive response plan. Moving forward, we expect better prioritization and proactive communication from UNOPS during the implementation of the plan, including immediate reports on unanticipated challenges, constraints, or necessary reprioritizations. We urge UNOPS to present more clearly any requests for extrabudgetary resources.

We also look forward to the “midterm review plus” process and receiving a restated strategic plan and budget estimates in June 2023. We particularly thank the executive director for placing emphasis on management priorities and ambitions and for articulating what UNOPS will not be doing moving forward.

In that regard, the U.S. cautions UNOPS at this time against investing further resources into its potential role in blended and impact financing. UNOPS is a long way from restoring the trust we need to return to a business-as-usual partnership. We urge UNOPS to focus its attention on what it does best and refrain from activities where its role is not clearly defined at this time.

Regarding the issue of UNOPS’ reserves, the U.S. expects UNOPS to return accumulated and interest gained from those reserves to the partners from which they came. We expect UNOPS to return to a not-for-profit business model where fees are not allowed to accumulate and instead are applied in a way that allows for essential investments in staff and organizational effectiveness.

To close, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Working Group and its chair, Mr. Tumasie Blair of Antigua and Barbuda. We also thank UNOPS for your partnership in facilitating the work of the Working Group.

Thank you.