Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
June 30, 2023
Mr. Chairman, peacekeeping missions are essential to preventing conflict, protecting civilians, promoting human rights, and advancing peaceful solutions. Around the world, over 88,000 peacekeeping personnel serve in some of the most challenging environments at great risk to their own lives, and they deserve our deepest appreciation and support.
After two months of difficult negotiations, the Fifth Committee has reached agreement on an $6.1 billion budget for nine active peacekeeping missions, the support mission in Somalia, three service centers, and the support staff at UN Headquarters. We have also provided six months of financial commitment authority for the mission in Mali. When the costs for MINUSMA are excluded, this budget reflects a 4.9% increase over last year’s budget, with the increase driven largely by rising fuel costs, increased air operations, and higher equipment reimbursements.
Our negotiations this session were complicated by the request from the transition government in Mali for the withdrawal of MINUSMA. As USG Khare explained just now, it will not be easy to accomplish an orderly drawdown, withdrawal and liquidation of a decade-old mission, along with the transfer of UN facilities and equipment. The highest priority during this process must be the safety and security of peacekeepers and civilian personnel. That is why the U.S. strongly pushed for greater resources and flexibility to accomplish this extraordinarily difficult task. In the interest of consensus, we joined the more limited commitment authority provided today.
However, we remain seriously concerned that our decision today has increased the dangers faced by departing peacekeepers and the risk that UN assets will fall into the hands of those looking to destabilize Mali or bring harm to its people. That would be a great disservice to all the personnel who have served bravely in Mali for 10 years. Going forward, the U.S. is committed to fully monitoring the withdrawal to ensure that necessary resources are provided.
In this session, we were not able to achieve a cross-cutting policy resolution to guide the work of peacekeeping operations. While we did pass such a cross-cutting resolution last year, the failure to provide annual guidance is an unfortunate abdication of the Committee’s oversight function.
Finally, with regard to the Peacebuilding Fund, we continue to make progress in bridging differences on how the funding could be assessed and administered. The U.S. supports using assessed funding for peacebuilding, and we look forward to actively engaging in the fall to achieve a resolution on this issue.
Mr. Chairman, before we close this session, I want to express our delegation’s sincere appreciation for your stewardship of the Fifth Committee. Over the past year, the Committee has produced fiscally responsible budgets, achieved significant policy reforms, and passed the first comprehensive resolution on human resources management since 2016. We could not have accomplished so much without your even-handedness, your willingness to engage at all hours, and most importantly, your good humor. We will miss working with you. But I don’t know how much you’re going to miss working with us!