FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We appreciate the statement of the Executive Director and the vision she expressed. I am honored to represent the Government of the United States in the UNFPA segment of the 2009 Annual Session of the Executive Board.
President Obama , Secretary of State Clinton, and Ambassador Rice have expressed our country’s renewed strong support for UNFPA and its mission. My delegation is pleased to note that the United States will make a contribution of $50 million to UNFPA this year, as provided by our Congress. Our meeting today represents the first opportunity for the United States to engage with the Executive Board since this decision was made. We look forward to working for constructive and positive outcomes with the Executive Board and our colleagues from around the world.
Mr. President, as you are well aware, 2009 marks the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. The United States Government firmly believes that the goals and aspirations expressed in the ICPD’s Program of Action provide the clearest roadmap for meeting the reproductive needs of women around the world. The United States Government is deeply committed to achieving the ICPD’s goals, especially promoting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals, including the protection and promotion of reproductive rights. We wish to highlight the importance of the Program of Action’s emphasis on gender equality, the empowerment of women, reproductive health, and the critical need to address maternal mortality. We also note the importance of protecting women from rape and other forms of violence, particularly in conflict situations, which contributes to dire reproductive health problems, including fistula. The Program of Action calls for providing access to safe, effective, and affordable methods of voluntary family planning and to maternal health services, important steps for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
UNFPA has a special responsibility as the lead multi-national body promoting the implementation of the Program of Action. We are pleased that UNFPA is making strong efforts to fulfill this responsibility in all regions of our world, as evident in the agenda of this meeting. This Executive Board will discuss UNFPA programs in several areas that are experiencing conflict, such as Afghanistan, and in many areas that face poverty and challenges to development.
The U.S. delegation calls attention to three themes with regard to UNFPA:
1) sub-Saharan Africa 2) effectiveness, and 3) transparency and accountability.
1) While not alone in facing daunting development challenges, many countries in Africa in particular continue to struggle with high birth rates, high rates of maternal and child mortality, and high rates of poverty. UNFPA research has demonstrated that access to family planning is a critical tool needed to address these problems. The United States strongly encourages and supports UNFPA’s effort to expand access to family planning and maternal health services in order to save the lives of women and children in Africa.
2) We encourage UNFPA in Africa and in all regions to continue to strive for maximum effectiveness in its use of resources. To do this requires substantial funding, excellent technology, accurate data, and skilled analysis. We encourage UNFPA’s efforts to implement management systems that help it to direct resources and personnel to projects and locations where they will provide the most benefit.
3) Finally, as it pursues its mission, we encourage UNFPA’s ongoing effort toward accountability and transparency. This is especially important now, during a severe global recession, as many governments have reduced foreign aid spending and are questioning programs that do not show benefits quickly. In this environment, a continuing commitment to accountability and transparency will help demonstrate to donors the value of UNFPA’s work. This is not merely an accounting exercise, but rather is a necessary step to make sure UNFPA’s life-saving work can continue.
The United States looks forward to working with you on these matters in the years ahead. My delegation wishes to thank the Secretariat for your excellent work in preparing us for our Annual Session.
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