Remarks by Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Board Meeting

Ambassador Rick Barton
U.S. Representative on the Economic and Social Council 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
February 8, 2011


Thank you Madame President. Congratulations to you and other members of the Bureau on your recent appointments. The United States is committed to working with the new Board and to advancing UNICEF’s critical mission. And special thanks to Ambassador Momen, who I don’t see here, for his dedicated and enthusiastic leadership of this past year. We look forward to continuing our work with the Board. We also want to join others in thanking Deputy Executive Director Sa’ad Houry for his dedicated leadership and service at UNICEF. We wish him well.

We are particularly grateful for the bold leadership, personal commitment and focus that Dr. Lake has brought to UNICEF since taking the helm and that was reaffirmed in his opening remarks this morning. As he so poignantly reminded us in his remarks last Friday, each and every day 20,000 children under the age of five die unnecessarily, an unforgivable tragedy for our collective humanity. We can, and we must, do better.

We agree with Dr. Lake that it is time for all of us to see beyond the trends and averages, and operate beyond established boundaries and mandates, by implementing an equity approach. We, as the United Nations, must overcome the obstacles and bring results to the hardest to reach and most vulnerable children.

Along these lines, we welcome UNICEF’s efforts in hiring a Senior Adviser on Children with Disabilities. We understand that Ms. Rosangela Berman-Bieler starts work this week, and we look forward to working with her office to look at how children with disabilities are currently served under UNICEF’s program, and to look at ways to improve access to services for this important group.

To succeed, we must all assume new responsibilities and contribute concretely to the evolving global partnership for development. Saving and improving the lives of the forgotten children will require us to collaborate and share as never before, whether we are nations, UN agencies, international organizations and foundations, civil society, or the private sector.

UNICEF has long been in the vanguard of UN agencies using innovative partnerships. From the outreach of its national committees to the hands-on efforts of its dedicated staff in the field, UNICEF’s success and strength depends on its collaborations with thousands of partners from small NGOs and rural governments, to the largest multinational corporations and foundations.

We applaud and encourage these efforts. It is a winning formula that has kept UNICEF on the cutting edge of development, built a strong brand and trust in the institution, and enabled it to maintain and even improve its balance sheet during the worst of times. Indeed, total contributions to UNICEF in 2010 increased 13 percent from 2009, in spite of worldwide economic challenges.

But UNICEF must not rest on its laurels. Many emerging development actors are demonstrating nimble, transparent and accountable new models. UNICEF must help lead efforts to update management practices throughout the UN development system to ensure global leadership.

Real progress has been made in the last three years with the adoption and implementation of the accountability policy, the establishment of ethics offices, and the continuing improvement of audit and evaluation functions. Further concrete actions are still needed, including greater access to audit information and improved results-based budgeting.

Demonstrating effectiveness to traditional donors is critical. This brings us to a final point. As Dr. Lake reported earlier, earmarked contributions for specific purposes have increased, while non-earmarked contributions – which form the bedrock of the organization – have steadily declined in the last two years. If this trend continues, it may have serious implications for UNICEF’s ability to continue to pursue new opportunities to reach the forgotten children.

The United States is striving to maintain its core contributions to UNICEF. At the same time, we call for a broadened donor base for core resources. This would not only better reflect today’s development landscape, but ensure UNICEF’s long-term financial stability.

Thank you all for your good work.


PRN: 2011/021