An official website of the United States government

Ambassador Rice at House Hearing on U.N. Budget, Policy
April 6, 2011

Ambassador Rice at House Hearing on U.N. Budget, Policy


April 6, 2011

As Delivered

Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, to the House Appropriations Committee, State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, on “United Nations Budget and Policy,” 

Thank you very much Madame Chairman, Representative Lowey, Members of the Committee, it’s an honor to come before you and I thank you for the opportunity to include my full statement in the record. I also want to thank you both for your kind words of sympathy for the losses that the United Nations has experienced over the last week in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in Côte d’Ivoire.

I want to begin just briefly with the UN’s response to the crisis in Libya which further reminds us of its value in an age of 21st-century challenges. With U.S. leadership, the Security Council swiftly authorized the use of force to save lives at risk of mass slaughter, established a no-fly zone, and imposed strong sanctions on the Qadhafi regime. With broad international support, we also suspended Libya from the UN Human Rights Council by consensus — a historic first.

As we well know, America’s resources and influence are not limitless, and that’s why the United Nations is so important to our national security. It allows us to share the costs and burdens of tackling global problems, rather than leaving those problems to fester or the world to look to America alone.

I therefore ask for the Committee’s continued support and support this year for the President’s budget request for the CIO and CIPA accounts to help us advance U.S. national interests. Our leadership at the UN makes us more secure in at least five fundamental ways.

First, the UN prevents conflict and keeps nations from slipping back into war. More than 120,000 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers are now deployed in 14 operations, in places such as Haiti, Sudan, and Liberia. Just 98 of them are Americans in uniform. UN missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are promoting stability so that American troops can come home faster. This is indeed burden-sharing at its best.

Second, the UN helps halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Over the past two years, the United States led efforts that imposed the toughest Security Council sanctions to date on Iran and North Korea.

Third, the UN helps isolate terrorists and human rights abusers by sanctioning individuals and companies associated with terrorism, atrocities, and cross-border crime.

Fourth, UN humanitarian and development agencies often go where nobody else will to provide desperately needed assistance. UN agencies deliver food, water, and medicine to those who need it most in Darfur, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

Fifth, UN political efforts help promote universal values that Americans hold dear, including human rights, democracy, and equality—whether it’s spotlighting abuses in Iran, North Korea, and Burma or offering support to interim governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

Let me turn now briefly to our efforts to reform the United Nations and improve its management practices. Our agenda broadly speaking focuses on seven priorities.

First, UN managers must enforce greater budget discipline. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently instructed senior managers to cut 3 percent from current budget levels — the first proposed reduction compared to the previous year of spending in ten years.

Second, we continue to demand a culture of transparency and accountability for resources and results. We aggressively promote a strengthened, independent Office of Internal Oversight Services and an improved ethics framework including protection for whistleblowers.

Third, we are pushing for a more mobile, meritocratic UN civilian workforce that incentivizes service in tough field assignments, that rewards top performers, and removes dead wood.

Fourth, we are improving protection of civilians by combating sexual violence in conflict zones, demanding accountability for war crimes, and strengthening UN field missions.

Fifth, we are insisting on reasonable, achievable mandates for peacekeeping missions. Not a single new UN peacekeeping operation has been created in the last two years, and in 2010, for the first time in six consecutive years, we closed missions and reduced the UN peacekeeping budget.

Sixth, we are working to restructure the UN’s administrative and logistical support systems for peacekeeping missions to make them more efficient, cost-effective, and responsive to realities in the field.

And finally, we are pressing the UN to finish overhauling the way it does day-to-day business, including upgrading its IT platforms, procurement practices, and accounting procedures.

But the UN clearly must do more to live up to its founding principles. We have taken the Human Rights Council in a better direction, including by creating a new Special Rapporteur on Iran. But much more still needs to be done. The Council must deal with human rights emergencies wherever they occur, and its membership should reflect those who respect human rights, not abuse them.

We also continue to fight for fair and normal treatment for Israel throughout the UN system. The tough issues between Israelis and Palestinians can only be resolved by direct negotiations between the parties, not in New York and that is why we vetoed a Security Council resolution in February that risked hardening both sides’ positions. We consistently oppose anti-Israel resolutions in the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly, and elsewhere.

It goes without saying that the UN is very far from perfect. But it delivers real results for every American by advancing U.S. security through genuine burden-sharing. That burden-sharing is more important than ever at a time when threats don’t stop at borders, when Americans are hurting and cutting back, and when American troops are still in harm’s way.

Thank you Madame Chairman.