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Statement delivered by H.E. Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN at Annual Session of the UNICEF Executive Board, Item 1: Opening statements by the President of the Executive Board and the Executive Director of UNICEF, 11 June 2018 in New York

13.06.2018  03:34

(Check against delivery)

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for giving me the floor and thank you for your leadership. Thank you to the Executive Director, Ms. Fore, for your very informative statement and the written version.

Let me start by commending UNICEF– its leadership and its dedicated staff – for the results achieved over the past four years, as outlined in the annual report of the Executive Director.

UNICEF continues to strengthen its critical role in promoting and protecting children’s rights. We note with appreciation that UNICEF has managed to achieve and present very significant results. In particular, Denmark takes note of UNICEF’s achievements in health, education and child protection. The figures are very impressive. In 2017, UNICEF reached 176 million children with measles vaccine and 12.5 million children received learning materials. These results are crucial on our common path towards 2030. 

Allow me first to comment on the reform of the UN Development System, which forms the very important framework for the implementation of UNICEF’s Strategic Plan for 2018 – 2021. We encourage UNICEF to within its mandate, to focus on its comparative advantages.

Two weeks ago, all UN Member States adopted the new resolution on reform of the UN Development System.

At the adoption, the Secretary General stressed that the resolution ushers in the most ambitious and comprehensive transformation of the UN Development System in decades, with the aim to make a real difference in the lives of people. I could not agree more, and I would like to underline that the decisions we have taken as Member States are bold and require collective work and collective support from all sides, if the reforms are to deliver on their full potential.

Denmark therefore expects UNICEF and all parts of the UN Development System to do their part in implementing the reforms, loyally and in close and constructive cooperation with their sister organizations. Only in that way can the system provide the best possible support for Member States in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We would of course appreciate if the Executive Director could elaborate a bit more on how UNICEF intends to work with this challenge and opportunity.

Allow me, Mr. President, to touch briefly on a few of issues that Denmark sees as of critical importance in the implementation of the Strategic plan. I am also pleased to note that these are very much aligned with the statement by the Executive Director and her priorities.

First, the humanitarian-development nexus is a key priority for Denmark and we welcome that the Executive Director has underlined it as one of main priorities in her statement today. The dual mandate of UNICEF places the organisation as a central actor in ensuring effective operationalization of the New Way of Working. We also would encourage UNICEF to fulfil its commitments in relation to the World Humanitarian Summit and Grand Bargain.

Second, promotion of human rights and gender equality. We appreciate UNICEF’s achievements in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, as outlined in the Annual Report on the implementation of the UNICEF Gender Action Plan 2014-2017.  We look forward to continue working with UNICEF in applying a human-rights based approach to development. In this respect, we find it important that UNICEF continues to improve gender mainstreaming in all its programming.

Third, Denmark appreciates the strong focus on innovation in the Strategic Plan and the dedication of the Executive Director to scale up new technologies and innovative solutions in every aspect of UNICEF’s work. Furthermore, we welcome UNICEF’s active participation in UN Innovation Network. Innovation is another area where it is so important that the UN work together in a coherent way in order to capitalize on new innovations in the best way.

Fourth, we commend UNICEF’s effort to promote the youth agenda with the new initiative Young People’s Agenda. It is essential to invest in young people’s opportunities, but also to ensure that young people are meaningfully engaged in planning, in decision-making and in implementation of programs. We encourage UNICEF and the whole UN system to work together in coordinated and coherent way to ensure involvement of youth as valuable agents of change.

Before I close, I want to raise a topic that the Executive Director mentioned and which has attracted a lot of attention in the recent months and rightfully so, namely sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. Such behaviour is not only wrong, it is also very harmful for the UN’s credibility as a global norm setter. We expect and appreciate that UNICEF and the UN system as a whole is standing firm on its principle of zero tolerance towards such misconduct. I would like to welcome the assurances made by the Executive Director this morning and we welcome the Independent Task Force that UNICEF has established. This is a very serious issue, that we know can have strong ramifications, if not handled in the best and most open way possible.

Mr. President, in closing, allow me to express Denmark’s gratitude to UNICEF staff around the world as well as reaffirm our strong support for UNICEF. Your work for the world’s children and their rights is highly valued. Denmark looks forward to continuing working together to ensure every child attain their full potential.

Thank you, Mr. President.