Statement by Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform, on the organization of work for the second part of the resumed 65th session before the 5th (Administrative and Budgetary) Committee of the UN General Assembly

Ambassador Joseph M Torsella
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform 
New York, NY
May 2, 2011


Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am pleased and honored that the occasion of my first remarks as a representative of my government is this important session of this vital Committee. Because while the scale, complexity and reach of the UN’s peacekeeping operations today would astonish the UN’s founders – and indeed might even surprise the men and women who sat in our places as recently as ten years ago – peacekeeping is at the heart of the UN’s role in, and value to, our world. It is burden-sharing and cooperation at its best.

Each delegation brings a different perspective to this Committee and there will of course be differences to navigate in the weeks ahead. But we can all agree that effective UN peacekeeping is heroic work that builds our common security. We can all unite in gratitude to those who have sacrificed their own lives to save others and in sympathy with their families. And we can all come together to salute the dedication of those UN personnel, here and around the world, who are devoted to this important task.

We have an obligation to honor such sacrifice and service with our own commitments in our work: to ensure that peacekeepers have adequate resources to carry out the tasks that we have assigned them safely and effectively, but also to ensure that every single dollar, euro or yen entrusted to us by the peoples of Member States to support UN peacekeeping is spent wisely and well.

These goals, Mr. Chairman, are sometimes presented as conflicting ones. The United States firmly believes that they are not. Far from it—if we adopt a balanced and strategic approach, as my government urges, they are complementary and mutually reinforcing goals, because any waste or inefficiency is intolerable when lives are at stake, missions are stretched, and new, unplanned needs arise every day.

Our task is made more challenging by the sheer size of our peacekeeping budgets and the rapid – and relatively recent – growth in the breadth of peacekeeping mandates. Even with the closure of MINURCAT, the former mission in Chad and the Central African Republic, the budgets for current peacekeeping missions to be considered and adopted by this committee total well over 7 billion dollars. That figure is nearly 3 times what it was just 10 years ago.

So we must, Mr. Chairman, seek efficiencies within peacekeeping. Not only because of the difficult global economic climate and the financial constraints facing each of our respective governments, but also because of our solumn duty to the UN peacekeepers in the field.

So as we were encouraged by the Secretary-General’s recent direction to improve budgetary discipline for the regular budget, we therefore look forward to seeing similar discipline in peacekeeping. The United States welcomes the efforts of the Secretary-General in continuing the trend toward fiscally responsible and realistic budgets, and we emphasize the need to continue this trend and identify further efficiencies in ongoing operations.

In this regard, my delegation notes with satisfaction that the additional resource requirements related to harmonization of human resources management policies have been proposed for absorption. Should the General Assembly adopt the recommendations of the Contingent-Owned Equipment Working Group, means to finance these additional requirements will also need to be found within the Secretary-General’s proposed budget level for peacekeeping.

My delegation also commends Under-Secretary-General Malcorra and her staff both at Headquarters and in the field for their hard work in implementing the Global Field Support Strategy. As confirmed in the report we have before us and as called for by the General Assembly in the resolution that it adopted last June, a strong foundation is being constructed that, with our continued support, will result in the building of all the integrated components of this transformational Strategy and result in achievement of the core objectives of the Strategy: to expedite and improve support to field missions; to strengthen resource stewardship and accountability while achieving greater efficiencies and economies of scale; and to improve the safety and living conditions of staff.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, we note that requirements for air operations for the July 2011 to June 2012 period are expected to again amount to over $1 billion. The United States emphasizes the absolute necessity of ensuring the safest possible air movement for all UN personnel; there is simply no room for compromise where safety is concerned. So we welcome the efficiencies that are being achieved, without compromising safety, through the regional approach to the management of air operations being implemented by the Transportation and Movements Integrated Control Center at the Regional Service Center at Entebbe, Uganda and improving fuel efficiency as a principal objective of the global Strategic Air Operations Center at the Global Service Center at Brindisi, Italy. And we look forward to identification of further initiatives to control these costs.

Mr. Chairman, while we will reserve our comments and questions relating to individual mission budget resources and on reports on important thematic issues for their consideration under the specific relevant items, we would at this time like to comment on one important issue.

My delegation once again calls for full enforcement of the Organization’s policy of zero-tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping. We are encouraged by the first steps taken to implement the Organization’s comprehensive package of reforms to prevent such acts, enforce UN standards of conduct, and address the needs of victims. We recognize the important work being carried out in this regard by Conduct and Discipline Teams, the Office of Internal Oversight Services and other UN personnel, both at Headquarters and in the field. And we note that the overall number of allegations of such misconduct has decreased. But the United States remains extremely concerned by the continued allegations of the most deplorable and egregious acts and expects that all acts of misconduct shall be investigated, with those found guilty punished without delay in accordance with due process of law. The United States stresses the importance of timely follow-up on allegations of misconduct, including reporting on actions taken at the national level.

Because of such critical issues on our agenda, Mr. Chairman, the United States welcomes the commencement of the second part of the resumed sixty-fifth session and looks forward to working with all members of this committee in the weeks ahead . We join other delegations in welcoming back you—and I thank you for your welcome to me personally—and the other members of the Bureau as well as the Committee Secretariat and the Chair and members of the ACABQ. We particularly welcome Sharon Van Buerle as the new Secretary of this Committee. We are extremely confident that with her wealth of experience and talent, Ms. Van Buerle will guide this Committee in the same expert manner that she has guided the Program Planning and Budget Division in the Department of Management.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2011/089