"The United Kingdom remains strongly committed to its partnership with UNICEF"

Statement by Ambassador Shearman of the UK Mission to the UN, in Response to the Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr Anthony Lake

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Mr President, Mr Executive Director, I would like to thank you both for your opening statements.

Mr. Executive Director, as you know, in 2014 the world experienced a steep rise in the number of political and humanitarian crises. Many of these emergencies are still ongoing, and UNICEF is playing a critical role in the international response. The UK appreciates and is pleased to support your efforts in this area, particularly your delivery of services for children affected by the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries, including our partnership with UNICEF on the No Lost Generation Initiative in Syria.

Funding for humanitarian action is rising to meet these challenges but it continues to be under unprecedented pressure. For this reason we welcome the proposal to increase the ceiling of the UNICEF Emergency Programme Fund to $75 million per annum in order to improve UNICEF’s ability to provide an immediate, effective and predictable response to the needs of children and women affected by humanitarian emergencies. Because this increase will be met through allocation of regular resources, we would also welcome clarification by UNICEF on what systems will be put in place to ensure that this move will not result in decreased allocations of regular resources to UNICEF’s priority actions in non-humanitarian settings.

The United Kingdom welcomes our close partnership with UNICEF in combating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, particularly in establishing Community Care Centres in Sierra Leone. We’re thrilled and optimistic at the recent news on the slowing of the disease’s spread, with weekly new cases down to below 100 for the first time. As we move towards a new phase of Ebola response, we hope that UNICEF can build up its field presence even further, which will be crucial in delivering a sustained focus on social mobilisation and child protection. We also hope that UNICEF will play a key role in early recovery efforts, such as helping to rebuild the health and education sectors better, stronger, and with greater resilience.

Mr. Executive Director, I would now like to turn to UNICEF’s role in ending the harmful practices of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting, and Child, Early and Forced Marriage. At the Girl Summit in July 2014, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development announced up to £25 million for the Global programme for Accelerating Action to End Child Marriage, led by UNICEF and UNFPA. We very much welcome UNICEF’s efforts in partnership with UNFPA to eliminate this practice, as well as both agencies’ ongoing work on the Joint Programme on ending Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting. We believe that both of these programmes will make important contributions to transforming our collective commitment to end these practices into reality. We encourage UNICEF to continue to engage as a collaborative partner in these and other innovative inter-agency initiatives to contribute to better integrated UN action.

The United Kingdom remains strongly committed to its partnership with UNICEF, and to the fulfilment of UNICEF’s mandate to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. I am very pleased therefore to be able to announce that last week our Secretary of State for Development decided to maintain our contribution to regular resources at £40m for our financial year 2015 to 2016.

This year will be critical for the UN development system and the world. UNICEF, along with the other agencies, must ensure that it is “fit for purpose” to deliver on the fresh challenges the post-2015 development agenda will bring. We urge UNICEF to continue to make progress in strengthening its commitment to UN coherence, delivering effective, efficient, and timely humanitarian support, and realising a world in which no child has to endure extreme poverty and the rights of all children are secure.

I thank you.

Published 3 February 2015