Thank you so much, Mr. President, and members of the Bureau. I wanted to be here in particular to thank you for your hard work and commitment to UNICEF. I want to thank Executive Director Lake and his stellar team for their exceptional leadership of this organization, which continues to set the highest standard for service delivery and transparency in the UN system.
And I would like to thank the dedicated staff of UNICEF, whose work saves and improves countless lives around the world every day. After almost four years as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I remain consistently impressed by UNICEF’s dynamism, relevance and impact, which is felt everyday by children and families in need.
We’ve just heard this morning how UNICEF is providing essential humanitarian assistance in some of the world’s most dangerous and desperate places. We now know that two in three children who die before the age of five perish in fragile and conflict-affected settings, and we support UNICEF’s efforts to deliver services across some 250 humanitarian situations worldwide, from the Sahel to Syria. UNICEF has dispatched mobile medical teams to the hardest hit regions inside Syria and scaled up immunizations and nutrition screening for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
Mr. President, each year, more than 7.6 million children die worldwide before their fifth birthday. Nearly half of these deaths are concentrated in just five countries, and more than half are caused by one of five preventable conditions. UNICEF is tackling this shocking reality head on. It has led the call to curb preventable child death through targeted and scaled-up interventions, including at June’s Child Survival Call to Action, co-convened by Ethiopia, India and the United States. Through A Promise Renewed, UNICEF will lead a sustained effort to ensure that necessary technical assistance is provided to countries working to reduce preventable child deaths. One-hundred-and-fourteen governments and 170 civil society organizations have already pledged to take action to improve newborn, child and maternal survival and to reduce dramatically preventable child deaths by 2035. We enthusiastically support UNICEF’s drive to eliminate preventable child mortality and look forward to continued follow-up on these efforts.
In addition, UNICEF has been an indispensible partner in advocating for women and children in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. UNICEF’s work at this summer’s successful International AIDS Conference in Washington reinforces its critical role in realizing the promise of an AIDS-Free Generation and making sure that the needs of women and children are prioritized in our collective response to HIV/AIDS.
UNICEF’s impact derives not just from its material contributions to people’s lives but also from its innovative approach to doing so. As we heard this morning, since 2009, UNICEF has systematically worked to build and leverage partnerships with governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, international financial institutions, and other entities throughout the UN system. The United States welcomes UNICEF’s ongoing efforts to broaden the range of stakeholders it engages in pursuing its work. Indeed, UNICEF’s collaboration has paid significant dividends from reducing the cost of essential goods, such as the Hepatitis B vaccine, to increasing the number of people able to access critical services like education.
We commend Executive Director Lake’s unyielding commitment to results, his focus on organizational improvement, and his commitment to ensuring that UNICEF’s resources do the most good for the most vulnerable. In this context, we appreciate UNICEF’s efforts to incorporate data and observations from the ground into its monitoring and evaluation in order better to identify interventions that have the greatest impact. We look forward to implementation of the Monitoring Results for Equity framework and exploring the potential for similar innovations to be used across the UN system. We also applaud the commitment of the Board and UNICEF management to transparency and accountability and look forward to rapid implementation of the Board’s recent decision on public disclosure of audits.
Executive Director Lake, members of the Board, and UNICEF staff worldwide, you should be proud that this organization continues to be a stand-out leader in the UN system – giving many children the opportunity to live; taking an innovative and collaborative approach to service delivery that prizes results on the ground; and always striving to improve. And indeed, we are proud of you. The United States appreciates your work, and you will continue to find in us a stalwart partner fully committed to meeting the needs of the world’s children. Thank you very much.
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