U.S. National Statement Delivered by Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens UN Population Fund Executive Board Meeting Second Regular Session

Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens
U.S. Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
September 10, 2013


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you Dr. Osotimehin for your statement and for UNFPA’s efforts to prepare us for this Board. I am making this statement on behalf of the United States and the United Kingdom. Our delegations have reviewed the reports for this session with keen interest and will join other Member States to offer more specific interventions on other items.

Our delegations welcome UNFPA’s vision for the future as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2014-2017. The bulls-eye focus on UNFPA’s core mandate— achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health, realizing reproductive rights, and reducing maternal mortality—will help concentrate efforts on the women and young people who need it most. UNFPA has a critical role to play in ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, family planning, and maternal health remain at the core of the development agenda. This includes eliminating unsafe abortion, which leads to 13% of all maternal deaths and is responsible for a high level of maternal morbidity. We applaud the call to eliminate gender-based violence and practices such as female genital mutilation, and integrate these issues into broader health services.

In relation to the Strategic Plan and integrated budget, we have a few comments about the Global and Regional Program. We want to express sincere appreciation to UNFPA’s leadership and hardworking staff for all of your dedicated efforts to unpack the issues at stake with the GRP. We appreciate your commitment to strengthen oversight and establish clear links between GRP expenditures and specific results. We agree that the GRP has a place in the new budget, and recognize that UNFPA needs a degree of flexibility. Going forward, it will be essential for UNFPA to move expeditiously to classify costs associated with the GRP accurately and in line with the new harmonized cost classification categories — in particular, distinguishing between management, development effectiveness, and program expenditures— by the mid-term review. We welcome management’s proposal to report to the Board on GRP funding, oversight, resource allocation, and results on an annual basis and will look forward to the full implementation of these reforms.

Indeed, we commend UNFPA’s increased focus on results and recognize the continuing challenge of collecting and validating quality data to report against indicators. We welcome the continued refinement of these indicators so UNFPA’s achievements can be accurately tracked in line with its ambition.

We are also pleased that the recently approved evaluation policy provides UNFPA with new tools to assess impact. We support the Fund’s efforts to recruit an Office Director who will report independently to the Executive Board, and look forward to being fully informed on the progress of that appointment.

On humanitarian issues, we would like to welcome Ms. Ugochi (ooh-go-chee) Daniels as the new chief of the Humanitarian Response Branch. We appreciate UNFPA’s efforts to mainstream humanitarian work across the organization to better meet the needs of vulnerable populations, particularly those displaced by ongoing crises in Syria, the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel. UNFPA’s leadership is critical to providing access to sexual and reproductive health information, services, and supplies to women and girls in crisis situations. Their reproductive rights need to be protected, and they need champions like UNFPA against the depredations of sexual violence. We also endorse the formation of an internal cluster on humanitarian issues as a way to strengthen UNFPA’s co-leadership on Gender-Based Violence and ensure a productive division of labor with other agencies. Finally, in the lead-up to the Call to Action on violence against women and girls in emergencies that will take place in London, we look forward to discussing the specific steps UNFPA can take to step up its response in this area.

Mr. President, my own government is especially pleased by the strengthened collaboration between UNFPA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase worldwide access to reproductive health, including voluntary family planning. Our two agencies have agreed to work together to ensure stronger and more coordinated contraceptive supply planning and strengthened coordination between USAID, UNFPA, and other partners to meet family planning needs. These efforts, combined with UNFPA’s Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security, can help achieve a more efficient supply of reproductive health information, commodities, and services for millions of women and young people who currently lack access. This renewed partnership builds on the joint commitment of UNFPA and USAID to support key global reproductive health initiatives such as Family Planning 2020 and the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children.

UNFPA also has a vital role to play in advancing the goals of the London Summit on Family Planning 2020. The United Kingdom and the United States look forward to working closely with you and other partners to implement the significant commitments to FP2020 and work toward our shared goal of enabling an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to access and use voluntary family planning.

We finally note with appreciation UNFPA’s continued stewardship of the ICPD Program of Action global review process, including the UN Regional Economic Commission meetings held since the Executive Board last met, as well as the Hague Conference on Human Rights, which helped strengthen our collective understanding of reproductive rights. We look forward to the conclusion of the Regional meetings in the coming weeks and to the Secretary General's report early next year, which can spur renewed commitment and global consensus in support of the ICPD, as well as ensure that the critical issues articulated in the ICPD are reflected in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.

Mr. President, I would like to conclude by expressing our governments’ sincerest appreciation for Dr. Osotimehin’s energetic leadership in advancing UNFPA's mandate on reproductive health and rights, particularly for those most in need. Our countries pledge to continue working collaboratively with the Fund’s leadership, our fellow Executive Board members, other governments, civil society, and the private sector on these critical life-saving issues. Thank you.


PRN: 2013/163