Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Secretary-General's Proposed Program Budget for 2010-2011 (A/64/6), before the Fifth Committee of the Sixty-fourth Session of the General Assembly

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
October 29, 2009


Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to be here before this vitally important Committee.  The United States joins our fellow members in thanking the Secretary-General for introducing his proposed Program Budget for the United Nations for 2010-11.   We look forward to working with him and with other member states to modernize the United Nations and ensure that it can help to effectively and efficiently meet the global challenges we all face. 

This goal will not be easily reached. It will require a great deal of thought and innovation from the Secretariat, under the Secretary-General’s strong, ongoing leadership, as well as a broad and sustained commitment from Member States as a whole.   Let me express particular appreciation to the members of the Secretariat, including Under-Secretary-General for Management Angela Kane, Controller Jun Yamazaki, Budget Director Sharon Von Buerle, and their hard-working staff members, who have produced the budget proposal in a timely manner.  And let me also thank the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Susan McLurg, and her fellow Committee members for working so hard on this budget during the last few months and for providing an extensive and helpful commentary for our consideration. 

At the opening of the 64th General Assembly just a few weeks ago, President Obama noted:

“We have reached a pivotal moment.  The United States stands ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation – one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all nations.  And so with confidence in our cause, and with a commitment to our values, we call on all nations to join us in building the future that our people so richly deserve.”

Mr. Chairman, the Programme Budget of the United Nations provides an important opportunity for Member States both to clearly outline our shared priorities for the Organization, and to meet our financial responsibilities to provide the resources needed to meet these priorities.

The United States has already shown its commitment to opening a new chapter of international cooperation.  As a first step, we have recently made payments of more than $1.2 billion. That has dramatically reduced arrears to the regular budget and the peacekeeping budget that accrued over the past decade, and we have paid our current peacekeeping assessments.

Especially during the ongoing global financial crisis, budgetary discipline is imperative since we all recognize that achieving important UN objectives may mean considering proposals that would further increase the financial burdens on Member States.  We believe the work of this Committee should be guided by several principles that are fundamental to effective program planning, budgeting, and implementation:

• First, the General Assembly has endorsed the use of results-based budgeting, and the Committee must ensure that resources are allocated with a clear understanding of the intended results. Too often, the expected results are vague, and their relationship to the objectives approved by Member States is unclear. A report issued last year by OIOS concludes that “results actually produced do not guide General Assembly decision-making.”  To base our decisions on results actually produced, we must require greatly improved Indicators of Achievement from the Secretariat that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.  Without this, we will not have the accountability we all seek.

• Second, decisions must reflect value for money.  In a budget as large as the UN's, we must search together with the Secretariat to find efficiencies through new technologies and simplified procedures in all areas. 

• And last, new requirements for resources must be closely scrutinized and weighed against existing commitments to determine appropriate priorities for today.  The Committee needs to identify resources--including posts--from lower-priority areas that should be re-deployed to higher-priority ones.  Resources related to program activities based on prior UN priorities must be eliminated or reduced—unless their continuing relevance and effectiveness can be clearly demonstrated, to the satisfaction of this Committee, through rigorous program evaluations.

While we will continue to review the details of the proposal, we are pleased to see the priorities it gives to Part II, Political Affairs, Part IV, International Cooperation for Development, and Part V, Regional Cooperation for Development. This is appropriate since special political missions are critical priorities for us all and, as such, is an integral component of the UN’s regular budget.  The international and regional development activities also are central to the core mission of the United Nations and deserve all of our strong support.  The significant increase for Part VI, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs reflects a mutually recognized need for increased activity on these vital issues. 
The United States joins with other member states in seeking to ensure that the United Nations has the resources to effectively carry out its activities.  It is critical that the Secretary General present as soon as possible a comprehensive and transparent budget for the entire biennium that presents the full picture of anticipated requirements.  My government shares the concern that we continue to receive the budget in a piecemeal manner.  This has the effect of undermining the ability of Member States at the outset to make rational decisions about competing demands among important priorities.
Member States should make sure that the budget reflects priorities and is based on sound program planning, results-based budgeting, and a robust and effective system of independent oversight and evaluation.  In the end, Member States must decide on a program budget sufficient to implement the Organization’s priorities in the most efficient and effective way.  We look forward to working with the Members of the Committee in achieving consensus as we pursue these objectives.

Madame Deputy Secretary General and through you to the Secretary-General, we appreciate your dedication to these goals, and we remain committed to helping achieve them.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.



PRN: 2009/253