Statement on the adoption of the UNFPA country program document for Syria

Ambassador Chris Lu
United States Representative for United Nations Management and Reform
New York, New York
June 7, 2022

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of Belgium, Germany and my own country, the United States of America. We join the Executive Board in supporting the endorsement of UNFPA’s Country Program Document (CPD) for Syria.

First, we thank the UN leadership and UNFPA colleagues for their efforts to address some of our concerns regarding the Syria Strategic Framework and the CPD.

We reaffirm that we do not support the 2022-2024 UN Strategic Framework for Syria. It is fundamentally flawed and has the potential to undermine the effectiveness of national United Nations programs designed to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. The document is cut off from reality. It ignores the fact that conflict, especially the Assad regime’s brutal war against its own people, is the main cause of the suffering of Syrians today. This framework jeopardizes the credibility of the United Nations.

There is a well-documented history of the Assad regime manipulating aid for corrupt purposes, and also diverting aid to favored communities. In response to this, Member States worked closely with the UN to establish its own “Parameters and Principles for Humanitarian Assistance in Syria”. These “Parameters and Principles” remain paramount but, unfortunately, they are only referenced indirectly in the Framework. We are among the largest donors to the humanitarian response in Syria, and it is essential that our taxpayers’ money is safeguarded.

This framework will not change our policy regarding aid to Syria, including our opposition to regime-led reconstruction in the absence of a political solution, in accordance with UNSCR 2254. We will not fund UN programs that engage in reconstruction; we will demand that the UN respect its “parameters and principles”; and we will redouble our efforts to promote the accountability of those who commit atrocities in Syria.

On the broader UN Framework:

First, while UN frameworks are based on the principles of national ownership and leadership, this should not come at the expense of UN principles and values. These frameworks should serve as a gold standard and credible basis for the agencies’ national programs.

Second, while UNFPA has made significant improvements to CPDs in response to Member State feedback, similar improvements have not been made in the framework. The resulting lack of alignment between the Framework and the DPCs has the potential to undermine UN development system reform and the relationship between the RCs and the UN Country Team.

Third, while RCs are responsible and accountable for developing cooperation frameworks, frameworks are ultimately the product and responsibility of the entire UN Country Team, and agencies are accountable and responsible for their CPD.

We urge United Nations leaders and funds and programmes:

  • Ensure that RCs work closely with the UN Country Team to develop frameworks that enable smooth alignment and endorsement of CPDs.
  • To determine whether a one-size-fits-all approach to the Frameworks is in the best interest of UN reform and alignment with the DPCs, and to find creative solutions where the Frameworks risk compromising donor funding and undermining United Nations reform, member states agreements and United Nations principles and values.

In conclusion, we stand ready to engage in deeper dialogue to ensure that the United Nations development system respects its founding principles and responds to the needs of the most vulnerable at a time when we cannot afford any distractions.

Thanks.

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