Remarks by Ambassador David Dunn, Senior Advisor to the Economic and Social Council, to the UNFPA Executive Board
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you Executive Director Babatunde, for your informative statement. We are grateful for your leadership and your passionate advocacy for the rights of women and girls, which will be especially critical throughout 2015. Thank you also to the hardworking UNFPA staff for their commitment to protecting these rights around the world, often in the most challenging and difficult environments.
Mr. President, my delegation is deeply committed to preserving and protecting the rights of women and girls to sexual and reproductive health, including prenatal care and access to contraceptives. We are determined to bring down the numbers, still far too high, of women who die in childbirth and children who die in infancy. We consider it critical to provide women in humanitarian emergencies equal access to health commodities and family planning. In all of these endeavors, UNFPA is a strong leader and a trusted partner. We look forward to your support as we ensure that gender equality and these rights — with their potential to save millions of lives — are included in the post-2015 development agenda. We appreciate that UNFPA experts are working with the Secretariat to determine indicators that will give Member States more insight into the relevant goals and targets as our negotiations progress.
As we enter our second year of record numbers of humanitarian emergencies, we also appreciate the work UNFPA is doing to address the urgent needs of vulnerable populations. As global humanitarian crises continue to increase in complexity, frequency, and duration, far too many women lack access to critical reproductive and maternal health services. The United States remains committed to working collaboratively with UNFPA, other humanitarian organizations, and Member States to ensure the rapid, reliable provision of safe birth and reproductive health kits and family planning commodities, as well as medical and psycho-social support, to recover from the trauma of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. We are glad to support UNFPA’s life-saving programs, particularly for those displaced by the crises in Syria and South Sudan.
And because we know the toll this work takes, we support the proposed increase in the humanitarian response fund. My government has carefully reviewed the report on “Scaling up UNFPA humanitarian response funding.” We support increasing the annual Emergency Fund allocation from $5 million to $10 million to enable UNFPA to provide funding to countries during the acute phase of an emergency until additional resources can be mobilized or to sustain essential programs during protracted situations. We also support a one-time allocation of $10 million from regular resources to establish the humanitarian response reserve that will serve as bridge funding until donor funds are received.
We further recognize that UNFPA’s leadership within the global protection cluster is critical to preventing and responding to gender-based violence in crisis settings. Therefore, we encourage senior management to urgently prioritize filling the Gender Based Violence Coordinator position as soon as possible to support the work of this important forum.
We also are grateful for the revised oversight policy, which takes UNFPA further down the road towards full accountability and transparency. We thank the Director of the Office of Audit and Investigation Services for her initiative in overhauling this policy to reflect the highest standards. The new policy makes clear the standards of integrity that professional staffers are expected to meet and lays out the roles played by senior management, the Executive Board, the UN Board of Auditors and others in exercising oversight over the work and staff of UNFPA. It also protects the transparency and independence of the Directors of the Evaluation Office and OAIS and whistle-blowers who report wrongdoing.
The management changes discussed by the Executive Director appear to be positive steps for the organization. We hope they will produce positive results, including greater engagement with Member States, a more responsive relationship with the Executive Board, and an organization capable of responding to the increased demands of the post-2015 development agenda across a range of areas, including new strategic partnerships and effective communication with multiple stakeholders. UNFPA’s mission is critical to the sustainable development agenda, so it is particularly important that this agency gets “fit for purpose” right.
In this pivotal year, we look forward to continuing our productive relationship with UNFPA to champion gender equality and the rights of women and girls everywhere. Thank you.