Statement by Courtney R. Nemroff, ECOSOC Counselor, on the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the UNGA Third Committee

Courtney Nemroff
Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
December 8, 2011


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

The United States wishes to thank High Commissioner Guterres. 

As we mark the 60th anniversary of the UNHCR’s creation.  The United States remains a committed partner with UNHCR and the beneficiaries it serves, contributing nearly 700 million dollars in 2011 to assist UNHCR’s work in four areas:  refugee assistance, refugee returns and integration, the internally displaced, and stateless persons.

Humanitarian emergencies are becoming increasingly complex.  Protection must be the fundamental goal of the international community.  And UNHCR’s leadership has never been more essential.  No one government or agency can do it alone.  Nurturing and valuing long-standing partnerships while developing new ones must be the operational foundation of UNHCR’s work.  At the same time, it is critical for the UNHCR to strengthen its organizational capacity, particularly by adopting a human resources policy that delivers strong performance in emergency situations.  Could the High Commissioner elaborate on steps being taken in this regard?

Over the past several years, UNHCR has implemented many important reforms.  UNHCR’s Structural and Management Change process, including its results based management efforts, is moving in the right direction.  UNHCR should continue to improve its ability to measure the impact of its activities through improved indicators that are tied to service quality or outcomes.  We take seriously the agency’s efforts to refine its Global Strategic Priorities (GSPs) and performance indicators, and we encourage UNHCR to report on progress toward its GSPs regularly.  In response to the recommendations of its most recent Board of Auditor’s report, we also urge UNHCR to establish an organization-wide structured approach to risk management.

Mr. Chairman, this December, Member States will have a unique opportunity to signal their respective commitments at the ministerial-level meeting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 50th anniversary of the Statelessness Convention.  In the spirit of these contentions, we must continue to be relentless and effective advocates for victims of persecution, violence, and human rights abuses.  We challenge everyone in this room to do their part in preparing pledges for this historic event.

We thank High Commissioner Guterres and his staff for their critical work in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in recent crises worldwide, including in Libya, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, and the Horn of Africa.  We must not forget that UNHCR is the lead international organization responsible for the care and protection of over 34 million persons of concern.  We are resolved to continue our work to ‘protect and assist.’

Thank you.


PRN: 2011/301