Statement by Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, U.S. Representative to the United Nations for UN Management and Reform, on the Adoption by the General Assembly of the UN 2012-2013 Regular Budget

Ambassador Joseph M Torsella
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
December 24, 2011


The United States is proud to have negotiated, working with our international partners, a budget for a strengthened, more efficient, and more effective United Nations that saves the American taxpayers millions of dollars and sets the United Nations on the path of real fiscal discipline and continued reform.

This historic budget agreement, reached today through long and difficult negotiations, is the first time since 1998 – and only the second time in the last 50 years – that the UN regular budget has declined in comparison to the previous budget’s actual expenses. The 2012-13 biennium budget of $5.15 billion is five percent less than the $5.41 billion spent in 2010-11. Over the last 20 years, the average increase in UN budgets from the previous period’s expenses has been five percent per biennium. This budget therefore represents a savings to American taxpayers of as much as $100 million, the difference between the likely budget level based on historic patterns and the budget we approved today.

Moreover, this budget advances reform at the United Nations in other important ways. It provides new resources to the United Nations’ watchdog entity, the Office of Internal Oversight Services. It advances transparency in the UN system by instituting public coverage of all UN Committee formal meetings through webcasting. It calls for increasing synergies amongst support services, such as translation and interpretation. And it asks the International Civil Service Commission to examine limiting pay adjustments for UN staff when U.S. federal civil service pay is frozen and provides the ability to do so.

We commend Secretary General Ban Ki Moon for his leadership in charting a course of budgetary discipline and applaud his pledge before the General Assembly to find new efficiencies and cost savings. This budget is an extraordinary step, but just the first step. Every dollar sent to the United Nations represents the hard work of a taxpayer somewhere, and every dollar wasted in the United Nations is in fact a wasted opportunity to build a safer, freer, and more prosperous world. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to work for a United Nations that protects human rights, keeps the peace, provides security, seeds development, finds common solutions to the urgent problems of the new century, and lives within its means.


PRN: 2011/322