Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Duffy at the Opening of the WFP Executive Board

Opeining Session WFP Executive Board February 27, 2018. ©WFP/Giulio d"Adamo

Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Duffy at the Opening of the 1st Regular Session of the WFP Executive Board

 

February 27, 2018

Mr. President, congratulations to you on your new appointment, and thank you to the outgoing Board President. Thank you also to Mark Lowcock for his insightful observations.

Mr. Executive Director, allow me to join cross-Board consensus on wishing you a happy birthday. Thank you for your efforts in preserving and expanding WFP’s resource base and for your actions in alerting the world about the links between hunger and conflict. Your innovative approaches to resource mobilization and your commitment to improving the way we deliver assistance help bring us closer to achieving our mutual goal of zero hunger by 2030.

We encourage WFP to take further action to implement its humanitarian reform commitments related to the Grand Bargain. The United States is especially interested in efforts to advance efficiencies through reducing management coasts, harmonizing partnership agreements, providing transparent and comparable cost structures, and strengthening measures to achieve greater accountability.

We look forward to the discussion of UN reform later today, which we believe is a demonstration of the interest that WFP and its member states attach to the Secretary General’s efforts to reform the UN Development System.  We underscore the need for this reform effort to factor in all UN programmes, funds, and agencies, wherever they are headquartered. The UN belongs to its member states, and the U.S. will work to preserve the significant member state investments made in specialized UN operational capacity — an operational capacity that has allowed us to sustain the needs of 80 million people desperately in need of basic services for survival and resilience.

After more than a year of efforts by WFP and our partner states, U.S.-funded cranes are positioned and in use in Yemen’s Hodeidah port for moving food assistance to a near-starving Yemeni population.  We reiterate our call on all concerned to continue their efforts to ensure supplies get to the long-suffering Yemeni people. Additionally, we echo our colleagues’ call for observation of the recently-passed UN Security Council Resolution on Syria.

We commend Executive Director Beasley’s support and our partnership with WFP in delivering U.S. agricultural products – as well as financial and technical assistance – for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects in low-income, food-deficit countries.

We commend the spotlight Director Beasley has cast on the need to protect WFP staff from all forms of abuse of power and sexual harassment. There is much work that remains to be done in this vital area. WFP must have a working environment that is free of fear and allows staff to work in carrying out WFP’s core mission. We look forward to reviewing WFP’s improved directive on Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Abuse of Authority when it is issued, and pledge to work with WFP in its implementation. Of equal importance is protecting beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance from sexual exploitation and abuse – their welfare is our responsibility.

The United States views oversight as vital to WFP achieving its mission, as well as attracting and maintaining donors. We appreciate WFP’s improved efforts to coordinate across investigations, audit work, ethics issues, and evaluations. We have been pleased to witness the work already undertaken by the new Inspector General and relatively new Evaluations Director and look forward to continued collaboration to improve the oversight capabilities of the organization.

As the U.S. takes on the leadership of List D for this year, we look forward to working with each of you in partnership and consultation toward our ultimate common goal of advancing a free, peaceful, and prosperous world.