Mr. Chairman, the United States joins all the global voices in sympathy to South Africa for the loss of former President Nelson Mandela.
The United States has been and will remain a supporter of the work and mandate of UN-Habitat. Together with the international community, we note the progress made on the Istanbul Declaration of Human Settlements, while also recognizing the need for continued focus on urban development and its challenges. As such, we note the importance of the Habitat conferences and look forward to working with the UN Secretariat on ensuring Habitat III achieves productive, efficient, and effective outcomes.
To that end, my delegation is pleased to note the resolution’s stance on supporting the ongoing review of UN-Habitat with the aim to improve transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness. We also are pleased that this theme continues in the paragraphs about the Habitat III conference preparations. We thank the facilitator, Borg Tsien Tam of Singapore, and other delegations who worked to reach a consensus.
However, the U.S. is dismayed and disappointed at the confusion and apparent mis-steps surrounding the budget process that then plagued negotiation of this resolution. Starting at the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly, and continuing through UN-Habitat’s 24th Governing Council, the United States clearly stated its expectation that Habitat would include funds related to Habitat III as part of its overall request for the 2014-2015 biennium. From our discussions with UN-Habitat, we understood that the organization would follow this course of action. The UN-Habitat Governing Council adopted decision 24/14 in this regard in April of this year, yet no provision was made either in the initial proposed budget or in a revised budget. The present resolution makes clear that the majority of the resources required should come from voluntary contributions. The figures specified in L.53 can, therefore, only be considered as initial estimates of the overall resources and as such, do not prejudge discussions by member states in the Fifth Committee and should not be perceived as having the endorsement of member states.
While we remain firmly committed to the purpose and process of the Habitat III conference in 2016, we are deeply disappointed by the non-transparent aspects of the budget process, which deprived us of fully understanding, questioning, and openly debating the budgetary implications of this request.
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