In May 2010, President Obama signed into law the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to support regional partners’ efforts to end the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa. For more than two decades, the LRA has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Since 2008 alone, the LRA has killed more than 2,400 people and abducted more than 3,400. The United Nations estimates that over 380,000 people are displaced across Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and South Sudan as a result of LRA activity.
The United States’ comprehensive, multi-year strategy seeks to help mitigate and end the threat posed to civilians and regional stability by the LRA. The strategy outlined four strategic objectives for U.S. support: (1) the increased protection of civilians, (2) the apprehension or removal of Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield, (3) the promotion of defections and support of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters, and (4) the provision of continued humanitarian relief to affected communities. The United States’ decision, announced today, to send a small group of military advisers to assist the forces that are countering the LRA forms part of our continuing effort to achieve these strategic objectives.
To summarize the lines of effort in which the United States has been engaged:
Increasing Civilian Protection: The protection of civilians is central to the U.S. strategy. The United States is working with the governments in the region, the UN, and other partners to reduce the vulnerability of communities and increase the capacity of communities to make decisions related to their own safety. We also strongly support the UN peacekeeping forces in DRC and South Sudan, and we continue to work with the UN to augment their efforts in the LRA-affected region. In the DRC, the State Department and USAID are funding projects to help communities develop protection plans and bolster early warning capabilities. These projects include high frequency radios and cell phone towers.
Countering the LRA: Over the last year, the United States has worked with partners at the UN Security Council and African Union to maintain momentum and enhance coordination to counter the LRA. We have also continued to engage frequently and at a high-level with the governments in the region on the importance of their continued military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. We have provided significant support for those efforts. Since 2008, the United States has provided over $40 million in critical logistical support, equipment and training to enhance counter-LRA operations by regional militaries.
Today’s announcement forms part of our support for the international community’s efforts to counter the LRA. As notified to Congress, with the consent of the Government of Uganda, we have sent a small number of U.S. military advisors to assist the forces that are pursing the LRA. These advisors will work with the forces in the field to strengthen information-sharing, enhance coordination and planning, and improve the overall effectiveness of military operations.
Providing Humanitarian Assistance: The United States is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to LRA-affected populations in CAR, DRC and South Sudan. In Fiscal Year 2011, the United States provided more than $18 million to support food security, humanitarian protection, health, and livelihoods initiatives for internally displaced persons, host community members, and other affected populations. We also continue to support efforts across the affected countries to demobilize and reintegrate former LRA fighters and all those victimized by this conflict back into normal life.
Thank you very much, Secretary General. Thanks also to African Union Chairman Ping and to Prime Minister Abdullahi for your remarks. And to all of our colleagues, I have to say I sit through a lot of these meetings, as we all do, but I thought the remarks from Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda were especially substantive, very helpful, and help us all to focus our attention on the decisions that have to be made.
And I also want to congratulate the Somali leaders and the international partners gathered today by signing the roadmap for ending the transition in Somalia. You have taken a crucial step toward building a stable, prosperous future for the Somali people. And we have an opportunity today because of the withdrawal of al-Shabaab forces from most parts of Mogadishu. That has created a welcome shift in momentum, and that allows the Transitional Federal Government an unexpected opportunity to show Somalis that you can deliver security and basic services and lay the foundation for a stable, funcitoning government. That is what we want to see for the people of Somalia.
The political instabilty, the limited rule of law, the security threats have tragically affected Somalis for many years, and today it has an added tragic consequence because it has prevented many Somalis from getting acess to aid during the drought and famine. Fully one-third of all Somalis are now displaced in their own country or in countries bordering Somalia. And I thank the bordering countries for their generosity and hospitality under very difficult circumstances.
But al-Shabaab’s efforts to block NGO access to the most vulnerable areas of Somalia and its limitations on the delivery of life-sustaining humanitarian assistance has exacerbated this crisis. As the famine persists and al-Shabaab continues to deny Somalis access to life-saving assistance, the TFG and the international community have to work even harder together.
The U.S. has provided more than $600 million in this crisis response, including approximately 102 million directly for Somalia to increase access to clean water, sanitation, heath, and of course, food. And I am pleased that the United States today will be contributing an additional $42 million for the region with $30 million specifically for the people of Somalia.
But we have to send a message to al-Shabaab. And we and all of our partners, including the Arab League and the OIC, must continue to call on al-Shabaab to allow unfettered access. I honestly do not understand what is in it for them, what possible ideological or political motive can compel them to see women and children die because they cannot get access to help.
But it’s not only that we as the international community have an obligation to assist in this crisis. We have an obligation to support Somali efforts to develop a politically stable government. And I am encouraged that such a broad range of partners has comitted to fulfill the goals of the roadmap and its four prioirty tasks to be accomplished by August. These are ambitious but necessary goals.
By securing Mogadishu, we can create the conditions for the TFG and other international actors to improvide basic services. So I join in the request that I already heard to help strengthen and expand the number of AMISOM troops on the ground within the current mandate and to purchase equipment and uniforms and support training.
Secondly, we want to put the process toward a constitution to protect the rights of all Somalis, a timelie for parliamentary reforms and credible elections for the president and speaker of the parliament in August 2012.
Third, we will continue to call for all Somalis to renounce violence, lay down their arms, and to continue this good work with regional leaders to try to create a culture in which such violence is not tolerated.
And finally, we wish to assist in promoting better goverance by fighting corruption and increasing transparency that in turn will give Somali people confidence in their officials and public institutions.
I think it’s important that we be absolutely clear. Somalis have suffered for too long. And we see the success of those Somalis who have been forced out of their homes who are living in countries around this table. They are doctors and nurses. They are business leaders. They are hard-working people. We are proud to have many Somali Americans in the United States.
But they have a right to have a country that is safe and secure and where they can have opportunities for themselves and their children. Time may be running out. If we don’t do this right now, given the fact that AMISOM has been successful in opening up the space in Mogadishu, if Somali leaders do not follow the roadmap that has been negotiated by Africans for Africans, then I don’t know that the international community will be here next year and the year after with support. It is now up to Somalis. We have created the space. It’s not been easy. And as the secretary general has said, many, many Somalis, but also soldiers from Burundi and Uganda and elsewhere have died to give the Somali people this opportunity.
So there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we can build a stable, legitimate government that delivers for its people. And the United States stands ready to suport in achieving that goal. Thank you. (Applause.)
The Obama Administration has dramatically changed America’s course at the United Nations to advance our interests and values and help forge a more secure and prosperous world. We have repaired frayed relations with countries around the world. We have ended needless American isolation on a range of issues. And as a consequence, we have gotten strong cooperation on things that matter most to our national security interest.
What the President calls a “new era of engagement” has led to concrete results at the UN that advance U.S. foreign policy objectives and American security. The dividends of U.S. leadership at the UN are tangible – the stiffest UN sanctions ever against Iran and North Korea, renewed momentum to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials, strong sanctions and an unprecedented mandate to intervene and save lives in Libya, support for the historic and peaceful independence of Southern Sudan, vital UN assistance in Afghanistan and Iraq, vigorous defense of our staunch ally Israel, lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in the Horn of Africa and initial progress in improving the flawed UN Human Rights Council. In a world of 21st-century threats that pay no heed to borders, rebuilding a strong basis for international cooperation has allowed the United States to work together with others to solve common problems at the United Nations, making the American people more secure.
The President’s vision for a world without nuclear weapons includes a realistic path to get there. Several significant milestones on this important Administration priority have taken place at the UN.
UN Security Council Resolution 1887: In September 2009, the United States held the presidency of the UN Security Council, and President Obama chaired an historic Council Summit on nonproliferation and disarmament, culminating in the unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution 1887. This U.S.-drafted resolution reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to the global nonproliferation regime based on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, supported better security for nuclear weapons materials to prevent terrorists from acquiring materials essential to make a bomb, and made clear that all countries need to comply with their international nuclear obligations.
Iran: In June 2010, the United Nations Security Council voted overwhelmingly to put in place the toughest UN sanctions regime ever faced by the Iranian government for its continued failure to live up to its obligations, sending an unmistakable message about the international community’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. The new sanctions in Resolution 1929 impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities, its ballistic missile program, and its ability to acquire certain conventional weapons. They put a new framework in place to stop Iranian smuggling and crack down on Iran’s use of banks and financial transactions to fund proliferation. They also target individuals, entities, and institutions -– including those associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps –- that have supported Iran’s nuclear program and prospered from illicit activities at the expense of the Iranian people. The U.S. continues to ensure that these sanctions are vigorously enforced, just as we continue to refine and enforce our own sanctions on Iran alongside those of our friends and allies.
North Korea: In response to North Korea’s announced 2009 nuclear test, the United States secured the unanimous adoption of Security Council Resolution 1874, which put in place a tough array of sanctions, including asset freezes, financial sanctions, a broad-based embargo on arms exports and imports, and an unprecedented framework for the inspection of suspect vessels. Since the adoption of Resolution 1874, countries have intercepted and seized tons of contraband cargo. These interdictions show that countries are taking seriously their obligations to enforce these tough new measures. The United States will continue to press on sanctions implementation until there is concrete, verifiable progress on denuclearization.
NPT Review Conference: In May 2010, NPT parties adopted by consensus a Final Document that advances a realistic path towards a world without nuclear weapons. This document includes calls for strengthened verification and compliance, recognizes the New START agreement and the need for deeper reductions of nuclear weapons, and calls for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the immediate start of talks on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. It also supports efforts to pursue international fuel banks and related mechanisms to broaden access to peaceful nuclear energy without creating new proliferation risks. This major achievement is a vindication of the broad thrust of U.S. efforts to inject new energy and renewed effort into stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.
UN Security Council Resolution 1977: In April 2011, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1977, underscoring the vital importance of the Committee established pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1540 by extending its mandate for an additional ten years. The 1540 Committee is charged with assisting UN Member States in the implementation of UNSCR 1540’s obligations to take and enforce effective measures against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their means of delivery, and related materials, important elements in achieving U.S. nonproliferation objectives. The United States is making a $3 million donation to the United Nations trust fund for global and regional disarmament to help the Committee in its implementation efforts.
Bolstering Progress in Afghanistan and Iraq
Afghanistan: Since 2009, the United States has pursued a strategy in Afghanistan that places much greater emphasis on the role of international civilian assistance, while our troops work to secure the country and transition to a mission in support of Afghan security forces taking responsibility for their own security. To support this goal, the United States has worked to ensure that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has the resources and political support to carry out its vital mission to lay the foundation for a sustainable peace and a prosperous future, including providing assistance with security, elections, governance, economic development, and humanitarian assistance. The United States will continue to work to strengthen all aspects of the UN presence in the country so that UNAMA can best complement efforts to support the Government of Afghanistan by the United States and the International Security Assistance Force and better coordinate donor support.
Iraq: The United States and the international community are keeping their commitments to the Government and the people of Iraq, and as the United States is completing the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) continues to play a critical role. The United States strongly supports the work of the UNAMI as it continues to provide important technical assistance to the Government of Iraq, assists displaced persons in Iraq and provides humanitarian assistance. Additionally, the United States played a key role in the passage of three resolutions that mark an important milestone in normalizing Iraqi ties to the international community that were significantly limited when Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein. The Security Council, in a special session chaired by Vice President Biden, passed Resolutions 1956, 1957 and 1958 to help return Iraq to the legal and international standing it held prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Promoting American Values
Protecting Civilians in Libya: In March, the United Nations took unprecedented quick and strong action to protect civilians in Libya. Resolution 1973 provided legal authority for the international community to intervene to save lives in Libya. The resolution authorized states to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone, saving countless lives. The Security Council also imposed on the Qadhafi regime and on Libya’s major financial institutions a sweeping regime of financial sanctions and other measures to pressure the Qadhafi regime to end its brutal crackdown on demonstrators. Among other things, Resolutions 1970 and 1973 provided for an arms embargo, a ban on flights by Libyan-operated aircraft and asset freezes and travel bans on Qadhafi and his inner circle. These measures helped to isolate the Qadhafi regime from the international financial system, restricting its ability to fund military operations and to maintain support in Tripoli.
The people of Libya are now taking the initial steps to rebuild their country and transition to an inclusive democracy. There are still many issues to be resolved in the coming days, but the United States is very encouraged by early the steps the TNC has taken. The United States, the United Nations, and our international partners are helping the TNC build a government that reflects the aspirations of the Libyan people. The United States and our partners have worked through the United Nations to unfreeze billions of dollars in order for Libya to get access to their state assets to meet critical humanitarian needs. The United States will continue to work with the TNC to ensure that these funds are disbursed in a transparent, accountable manner. The United States is also providing over $90 million to UN agencies, international organizations and NGOs to address humanitarian needs generated by the crisis in Libya.
Moreover, the Security Council has adopted a new resolution to promote Libya’s recovery from its recent conflict and support its transition to a free society. This resolution mandates a new, three-month UN mission that will assist Libyan efforts to restore security and the rule of law, protect human rights, and undertake an inclusive political dialogue towards establishing a democratic government. It also begins the process of unwinding the UN sanctions that were imposed last spring. Although some measures will remain in place, ensuring that funds previously frozen are released in a transparent and responsible way, the Libyan authorities are now able to pursue a reenergized Libyan economy.
Promoting a Peaceful Transition to South Sudan Independence: On July 9, the Republic of South Sudan celebrated its independence. This action took place following months of intensified diplomatic efforts in the lead up to the historic, peaceful referendum on independence in January. Much of this work was accomplished working within or alongside the United Nations, including last year’s high-level meeting at which President Obama delivered remarks to galvanize international action to ensure a credible and timely referendum.
The United States continues to work closely with the UN and other international partners to support full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and improve the humanitarian situation on the ground. In June, the Security Council created UNISFA, a UN peacekeeping force that will monitor the redeployment of armed forces from the Abyei area and that is authorized to use force to protect civilians and humanitarian workers. In July, the Security Council created UNMISS, a new UN peacekeeping force in the Republic of South Sudan, to consolidate peace and security and to help establish conditions for economic and political development.
The United States continues to work to end genocide and conflict in Darfur, including by supporting the joint UN and African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID), and calling for the Government of Sudan to end aerial bombardments, improve conditions and freedoms on the ground, and allow humanitarian access.
Horn of Africa Famine: With more than 13.3 million people—primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa, the United Nations is at the forefront of a large-scale international response, and the United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the region, providing over $600 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to those in need. Much of this funding is funneled through various UN agencies and supports humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other drought affected populations.
Additionally, the United States helped garner international support for the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), including by supporting UN funding to keep international peacekeepers in the country. The United States has been a strong supporter of recent efforts to augment the number of troops deployed in AMISOM, which now has a force of nearly 9,600. Since AMISOM’s deployment in 2007, the United States has obligated more than $258 million in assistance to AMISOM and over $85 million to the Somali transitional government’s National Security Force.
Standing up for Israel at the UN: The Obama Administration has consistently and forcefully opposed unbalanced and biased actions against Israel in the Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and across the UN system. President Obama has pledged that we will “continue U.S. efforts to combat all international attempts to challenge the legitimacy of Israel — including and especially at the United Nations.”
When an effort was made to insert the Security Council into matters that should be resolved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, we vetoed it. When the 2009 Durban Review Conference advanced anti-Israel sentiment, we withdrew. When the UN General Assembly voted for a commemoration in September 2011 of the original 2001 Durban conference, we voted against it and announced we would not participate. When the Goldstone Report was released, we stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself. When anti-Israel resolutions come up at the UN Human Rights Council, the General Assembly, UNESCO, and elsewhere, we consistently oppose them.
Strengthening UN Peacekeeping and Conflict Prevention Efforts
Improving Peacekeeping Effectiveness: In his first visit as President to the United Nations, President Obama hosted the first-ever meeting with the leaders of the top troop-contributing nations to UN peacekeeping operations, underscoring America’s commitment to this vital tool, which allows countries around the world to share the burden for protecting civilians and supporting fragile peace processes in societies emerging from war. The U.S. continues to advance initiatives to strengthen UN peacekeeping capabilities, including by seeking to expand the number, capacity, and effectiveness of troop and police contributors, helping secure General Assembly approval for vital peacekeeping reforms, and working with fellow Security Council members to craft more credible and achievable mandates for operations in Haiti, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and several other current operations.
Haiti: After the devastating earthquake of January 2010, which claimed the lives of over 100 UN personnel and the UN Mission’s leadership, the United States worked extremely closely with the UN to help the Government of Haiti ensure security and deliver vital humanitarian relief to the people of Haiti. Tens of thousands of U.S. forces were able to withdraw from Haiti within a few months, as countries from Latin America and around the world moved quickly to share the burden and augment the UN peacekeeping presence. In addition, the total U.S. 2010 and 2011 humanitarian assistance funding provided is $1.2 billion for the earthquake and $75 million for cholera.
Liberia: The United States built an international consensus to maintain a robust UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeeping operation for an additional 12 months, ensuring continued support for the 2011 elections. Security Council resolution 2008, which was adopted unanimously on September 17, also calls for a technical assessment mission in spring of 2012 to evaluate potential reductions in UNMIL’s authorized strength.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): The United States continues to champion improved protection of civilians, especially by demanding an end to the epidemic of rape and gender-based violence. The United States has worked successfully to secure new Security Council sanctions against key leaders of armed groups operating in the DRC, including one individual linked to crimes involving sexual and gender based violence and child soldier recruiting. Additionally, the United States led the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution that supported, for the first time, due diligence guidelines for individuals and companies operating in the mineral trade in Eastern Congo and agreed to practice due diligence when considering targeted sanctions.
Ivory Coast: In April, the United States welcomed the end of former President Laurent Gbabgo’s illegitimate claim to power in Ivory Coast, following robust implementation of Security Council Resolution 1975, which demanded that Gbagbo step down as President, imposed sanctions on him and his close associates, reaffirmed the international recognition given to Alassane Ouattara as President of Ivory Coast, and reiterated that the UN Operation in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) could use “all necessary means” in its mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of attack. Early in the conflict, the United States worked with partners to renew UNOCI’s mandate and increase its ranks by 2,000 troops, further bolstering the mission’s ability to protect civilians.
The United States supports accountability on all sides for atrocities committed during the electoral crisis, and we will continue to support UN efforts in Ivory Coast as the nation recovers from this crisis. The Ivory Coast has accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and President Ouattara requested that the Prosecutor open an investigation into the most serious crimes committed in during the post-electoral crisis.
Eritrea: In 2009, the United States supported the African Union’s call to sanction Eritrea for that country’s role in destabilizing Somalia and the region and its failure to comply with Security Council Resolution 1862 concerning Eritrea’s border dispute with Djibouti. As a direct result of U.S. and African leadership, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1907 to impose an arms embargo and targeted financial and travel sanctions on Eritrean officials. Eritrea is paying a price for its sponsorship of foreign extremist groups. The Security Council, with the support of the UN’s Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, continue to review additional measures to respond to Eritrea’s acts to destabilize its neighbors.
Protecting and Empowering Women and Girls
Women, Peace and Security: The United States continues to lead efforts across the UN focused on women’s important roles in preventing, managing, and resolving conflict, as well as ending conflict-related sexual violence. In 2009, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presiding, the United States led the Security Council in unanimously adopting Resolution 1888, which strengthens the international response to sexual violence in conflict by establishing a dedicated UN Special Representative and creating of a team of experts to assist individual governments in strengthening their capacities to address sexual violence in conflicts within their borders.
Building upon this success, during the 2010 U.S. presidency of the Security Council, the United States supported the adoption of Resolution 1960, which expressed deep concern that violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict continues to occur. The resolution also improved reporting mechanisms on gender-based violence in conflict. On the margins of this year’s General Assembly, Secretary of State Clinton will join other women leaders from across the world in spotlighting the importance of women’s political participation in times of peace, conflict, and transition. And in the year to come, the United States will continue to lead efforts to support women’s decision-making in matters of conflict prevention and international security by releasing its National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.
UN Women: The United States was also instrumental in the establishment of a new UN agency called UN Women. This vital new organization combines four separate UN offices into one stronger, streamlined and more efficient entity working in support of women around the world. UN Women will work to elevate women’s issues within the UN system, on the ground in member states, and on the international stage. The United States is working very closely with Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile, as the first head of UN Women. In addition, when elections were held for the 41-member Executive Board, the United States secured a seat and supported other countries with strong records on women’s rights, while successfully leading efforts to block Iran’s bid for membership.
Promoting Human Rights
Human Rights Council: At the beginning of the Obama Administration, the United States made the decision to join the Human Rights Council, and that decision has paid real dividends for oppressed people around the world. Though the Council remains flawed, the United States has worked tirelessly to create the political will necessary for the Council to realize its full potential. While much work remains, in particular ending the Council’s excessive focus on Israel, the Council has taken great strides in speaking up for those suffering under the world’s cruelest regimes and focusing on the major human rights abuses worldwide.
In the past two years, the United States has spoken out on serious human rights abuses in Iran, Burma, Sudan, China, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, Russia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. With active U.S. leadership, the Council authorized international mandates to closely monitor and address the human rights situations in Iran, Libya, Syria, Ivory Coast, Burma, North Korea, Cambodia and Sudan. With U.S. engagement, Council members also voted to keep Iran and Syria from gaining seats on the Council.
We have also worked cooperatively with governments such as those of Haiti, Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Guinea and Tunisia, as they experienced crises and sought help from the Council to strengthen their human rights capabilities and help their countries rebuild. For example, last year the United States partnered with the government of Afghanistan to build international support for efforts to prevent attacks on Afghan school children, especially girls, who seek to be educated.
In 2011, the United States has shown leadership that has led to additional concrete results. On Iran, the Council took assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation by establishing a Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran. In June, the Human Right’s Council appointed Ahmed Shaheed to serve as Special Rapporteur. He will serve as a voice for all those Iranians who have suffered egregious human rights violations. This is the first new country mandate established since the Human Rights Council was formed in 2006.
U.S. leadership has led to two Special Sessions on the situation in Syria, sending President Assad a clear message that the world is watching what he does and that atrocities and human rights violations would not go unnoticed. At the most recent special session, the Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate all violations of international human rights law by Syrian Authorities and help the international community address the serious human rights abuses in Syria and ensure that those responsible are held to account.
The United States also played a pivotal role in convening the Council’s Special Session in February 2011 during which the Council condemned the human rights violations and other acts of violence committed by the Government of Libya, and created an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate those violations. Additionally on March 1, 2011 the General Assembly unanimously suspended Libya from the Human Rights Council because of the atrocities the Libyan authorities are committing against its own people. This was the first time that either the Human Rights Council or its predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, suspended any member state for gross violations of human rights.
In March 2011, the Council took an important step away from the deeply problematic concept of defamation of religion by adopting a constructive new resolution that promotes tolerance for all religious beliefs, promotes education and dialogue and is consistent with U.S. laws and universal values. Previous resolutions adopted under the concept of defamation of religion have been used to rationalize laws criminalizing blasphemy, and challenging widely held freedoms of expression and the press, rather than protecting religious freedom and human rights.
In June, the Human Rights Council took historic, bold and assertive action to highlight violence and human rights abuses faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world by passing the first UN resolution solely focused on LGBT persons. The United States co-sponsored, strengthened, and gained support for a South African initiative, which was ultimately joined by countries from every UN geographic region and paves the way for the first UN report on the challenges faced by LGBT people and sustained Council attention to LGBT issues.
Along with our international partners and the NGO community, the United States has made important initial steps toward improving the work of the Council. The United States will run for re-election next year so that we can continue the progress the Council has made over the last two years.
LGBT Rights: In a reversal of the previous Administration’s policy, the United States supported a landmark General Assembly declaration condemning human rights violations based on sexual orientation. The United States also spearheaded an effort that led to a decisive victory in the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which voted to grant consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC), a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that does invaluable work around the globe to protect basic human rights, combat discrimination, and fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS. When a committee vote removed a reference in a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings based on sexual orientation, the United States led a successful campaign to reinstate that reference in the final General Assembly resolution. And the United States joined the LGBT core group in New York for the first time.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: On behalf of the President, Ambassador Rice signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first new human rights treaty of the 21st century.
DRIP: In another important reversal of the previous Administration’s policy, President Obama announced U.S. support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP).
Health Security: The United States has taken a multi-faceted approach to dealing with infectious diseases, whatever their cause, through fora such as the UN Security Resolution 1540, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and World Health Organization (WHO). The BWC Review Conference in December offers an important opportunity to revitalize international efforts against these threats, helping to build global capacity to combat infectious disease, and prevent biological weapons proliferation and bioterrorism. This week the United States is signing an agreement with the WHO on “Global Health Security,” affirming their shared commitment to strengthen cooperation on common health security priorities. Improving global capacities to detect, report and respond to infectious diseases quickly and accurately lies at the heart of the WHO’s International Health Regulations. The U.S. is committed to have in place these vital IHR core capacities as soon as 2012.
Reforming the United Nations
UN Arrears: Working with the U.S. Congress, the Administration cleared hundreds of millions in arrears to the United Nations, which accumulated between 2005 and 2008, and is now working to stay current with payments to the Organization.
Budget Discipline: As the largest financial contributor to the UN, ensuring that U.S. funds are spent wisely and not wasted is vital. The United States has worked to contain the growth of the UN budget and consistently pressed the issue of efficiency and accountability in our discussions with the UN, pushing for a focus on results. In 2009, the Administration successfully negotiated an agreement that held constant the share of U.S. assessed contributions to the United Nations.
UN Peacekeeping: In 2011, the United States rallied major financial contributors to thwart an effort by troop-contributing countries to impose a 57% increase in the reimbursement rate for troops in peacekeeping missions, which would have cost the organization well over $700 million annually. The United States was able to insert a new provision to prevent reimbursement for troops who have been repatriated for disciplinary reasons, including violation of the UN zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
U.S. leadership was instrumental in ensuring adoption of the Global Field Support Strategy, a sweeping reform of how the UN undertakes administrative and logistics support for UN field operations. This initiative will improve the quality, consistency, and efficiency of service delivery by capturing efficiencies within peacekeeping operations and improving the UN’s capacity to support complex field missions.
Oversight and Accountability: The United States advocated and supported adoption of key elements of an accountability framework for the UN. The United States has also blocked attempts to curb the authority and operational independence of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and succeeded in March 2010 in preserving OIOS’ existing mandate and authority, allowing OIOS to fill many long-vacant positions.
The United States has consistently and aggressively supported OIOS to be a strong and independent watchdog so that U.S. taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and UN programs are managed effectively. And, while OIOS has provided valuable recommendations to improve the UN’s effectiveness and served as a deterrent in the area of waste, fraud, and sexual exploitation and abuse, it has fallen short, especially in the area of investigations. The United States has pushed hard for improvements in that function so that OIOS can more vigorously pursue fraud and misconduct. The United States was pleased to see quick action by Carman LaPointe, the Head of OIOS, in filling several leadership positions in that critical office. The United States was successful in ensuring that the position of Director of Investigations, vacant for almost two years, was filled by a qualified candidate who is tasked, among other things, with reigniting the former financial crimes unit of OIOS.
Transparency: The United States has promoted transparency throughout the United Nations system for many years. We have pushed for the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the Funds and Programs to take a number of important steps toward public disclosure of all internal audit, oversight and financial reports, and have seen significant progress. For example, Carman LaPointe has announced that she will post internal audits of the UN Secretariat on her website for public viewing starting in January 2012. Additionally, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) gave access to internal audit reports to the Global Fund and other intergovernmental donors. All of these organizations also voted to let governments who fund their programs – like the United States – read audit reports remotely from all over the world, instead of keeping audits under lock and key in New York. This September, leaders at all of these New York based funds and programs announced their support for full public disclosure of internal audits on the internet. Every agency in the UN system is a public institution and should open its doors to public scrutiny.
Human Resources Reform: In December 2010, the United States pushed through reforms that led to harmonization of conditions of service for staff serving in the most difficult locations in the world, eliminating disparities in practices between organizations—including reducing the unreasonably high levels of allowances paid by some organizations—to ensure a balance between fiscal responsibility and ensuring that the organization is able to attract and retain the most qualified staff for service in hardship locations.
The United States also demanded a review of the recent action by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to increase the post (cost of living) adjustment for staff in New York, in light of the ongoing pay freeze in the U.S. federal civil service—whose salaries and benefits serve as the basis for those of professional staff at the UN—and the difficult international economic climate.
Like the European Union and other participating states, the United States does not recognize the legitimacy or the results of the August 26th so-called “elections” in the Abkhazia region of Georgia. We reiterate our support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
We again urge Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, including the withdrawal of forces to pre-conflict positions and free access for humanitarian assistance to the territories.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee approved a U.S. proposal to unfreeze $1.5 billion of Libyan assets to be used to provide critical humanitarian and other assistance to the Libyan people. The U.S. request to unfreeze Libyan assets is divided into three key portions:
Transfers to International Humanitarian Organizations (up to $500 million):
· Up to $120 million will be transferred quickly to meet unfulfilled United Nations Appeal requests responding to the needs of the Libyan people (including critical assistance to displaced Libyans). Up to $380 million will be used for the revised UN Appeals for Libya and other humanitarian needs as they are identified by the UN or other international or humanitarian organizations.
Transfers to suppliers for fuel and other goods for strictly civilian purposes (up to $500 million):
· Up to $500 million will be used to pay for fuel costs for strictly civilian needs (e.g., hospitals, electricity and desalinization) and for other humanitarian purchases.
Transfers to the Temporary Financial Mechanism established by the Contact Group to assist the Libyan people (up to $500 million):
· Up to $400 million will be used for providing key social services, including education and health. Up to $100 million will be used to address food and other humanitarian needs.
The United States crafted this proposal in close coordination with the Transitional National Council, as they assessed the needs of the Libyan people throughout the country. It responds to humanitarian concerns in a diversified way that prioritizes key needs. The United States will work urgently with the Transitional National Council to facilitate the release of these funds within days.
The proposal also has a number of safeguards, including a restriction that none of the funds are used for military equipment or activities. Funds given to the United Nations will be subject to existing UN safeguards. Payments for fuel costs will be confirmed by both the TNC and the vendor. Similarly, the Temporary Financing Mechanism incorporates several accounting and procedural safeguards: a Steering Board with TNC and international members (and consensus decision making); regular internal audits and external audits to be conducted by an internationally respected independent auditing firm; and an independent financial management agent (Adam Smith International) to administer the TFM account.
The United States welcomes the decision by the UN Security Council’s Libya Sanctions Committee to release $1.5 billion dollars in Libyan assets to meet the critical humanitarian needs of the Libyan people. Today’s action demonstrates the international community’s solidarity with the brave people of Libya at this historic moment.
The unprecedented international coalition built upon UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 prevented mass atrocities in eastern Libya, averted large scale killings of unarmed civilians, and avoided a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Yet this is not the end of Libya’s transition. It is the beginning. The United States will continue to work with our international partners to support the Libyan people as they chart a democratic, prosperous, and secure future for their country.
Mr. President, The United States supports the peacekeepers of UNAMID who continue to play a critical role in the safety and security of the people of Darfur.
We are extremely concerned by the situation on the ground in Darfur. In light of the dangerous situation, we are pleased that the Council has recognized that the enabling environment necessary for a Darfur-based political process does not yet exist.
For any process to achieve lasting peace in Darfur, the ability of the participants to express their free will without fear of harm or retribution must be guaranteed. In Darfur, however, those who speak out are regularly arrested, tortured, or killed.
Mr. President, It is first and foremost the responsibility of the Government of Sudan to create these enabling conditions, and we strongly demand all parties to the conflict agree to an immediate ceasefire and engage in direct negotiation.
UNAMID’s role in bringing peace to Darfur is critical. It’s role, first and foremost, is to protect civilians and secure humanitarian access for millions of vulnerable people.
We are pleased that this resolution affirms that, based on reporting from the field—including UNAMID’s reporting on political, civil, and human rights — the Security Council, taking into account the views of the African Union, will determine whether the enabling conditions necessary for UNAMID to engage in further efforts related to the Darfur-based Political Process have been met.
As civilians continue to be targeted and bombs dropped in Darfur, the United States welcomes UNAMID’s focus on protecting civilians and ensuring humanitarians have the access they need to provide lifesaving assistance. And we call on all parties to the conflict to recommit themselves to serious, comprehensive political negotiations to bring an end to these atrocities.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States is deeply concerned by the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa and today’s announcement by the United Nations that a famine is underway in parts of Somalia. The United States is the largest bilateral donor of emergency assistance to the eastern Horn of Africa. We have already responded with over $431 million in food and non-food emergency assistance this year alone.
But it is not enough — the need is only expected to increase and more must be done by the United States and the international community. That is why today the United States government is providing an additional $28 million in aid for people in Somalia and for Somali refugees in Kenya.
The eastern Horn of Africa is prone to chronic food insecurity which has been exacerbated by a two-year drought. Crops have dried up, livestock have died, and food prices have been skyrocketing. In Somalia, twenty years without a central government and the relentless terrorism by al-Shabaab against its own people has turned an already severe situation into a dire one that is only expected to get worse. Even so, we remain cautiously optimistic that al-Shabaab will permit unimpeded international assistance in famine struck areas.
The United States — in close coordination with the international community — is working to assist more than 11 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, who are in dire need of assistance. To anticipate growing needs, the United States government has worked with our partners over the last year to pre-position food in the region, increase funding for early warning systems, and strengthen non-food assistance in the feeding, health, water and sanitation sectors. In addition to emergency assistance, this administration’s Feed the Future program is working to break the cycle of hunger once and for all by addressing the root causes of hunger and food insecurity through innovative agricultural advances.
But the United States cannot solve the crisis in the Horn alone. All donors in the international community must commit to taking additional steps to tackle both immediate assistance needs and strengthen capacity in the region to respond to future crises.
This weekend, in Juba, South Sudan, Africa’s 54th nation was born. Millions of people are celebrating a new national identity and new national promise. Like on our own July Independence Day 235 years ago, there is reason to hope for a better future — if the people and leaders of both Sudan and South Sudan commit themselves to the hard work ahead.
This day was far from inevitable. For more than two decades, Sudan has been riven by intense fighting over land and resources. Just a year ago, talks between the Sudanese government in the north and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in the south had stalled. Preparations for a referendum on southern independence had fallen behind. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 appeared close to collapse. A return to open conflict seemed likely.
Thankfully, people on both sides and across the world worked together to chart a different path.
Activists, religious groups and human rights advocates focused attention on the conflict and refused to let it fade. Last year, President Obama committed to reenergizing the peace effort. Since then we have redoubled our engagement with partners in the north and south, as well as in the African Union, Europe and the United Nations.
Most of all, though, Saturday’s successful outcome is a testament to the will and dedication of the people of Sudan and South Sudan and their leaders. They have shown that even under the most difficult circumstances, peace is possible if people are willing to make hard choices and stand by them.
But just as independence was not inevitable, neither is a lasting peace between Sudan and South Sudan. Decades of war have left deep distrust on both sides and significant social, political and economic challenges. Both nations will have to take decisive steps to consolidate progress.
First, they must quickly return to the negotiating table and seek to complete the unfinished business of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. That means settling outstanding questions related to finances, oil and citizenship; demarcating remaining border areas; and fully implementing their agreement on temporary arrangements for the contested Abyei area, which lies along the border of Sudan and South Sudan, including the redeployment of all Sudanese military forces. The violence that has flared in Abyei in recent months cannot be allowed to return and jeopardize the larger peace.
Second, South Sudan must address its internal challenges. Its people face wrenching poverty, inadequate education and health care, and the continuing presence of armed militia groups. To succeed, South Sudan will have to begin building an effective, democratic and inclusive government that respects human rights and delivers services with transparency and accountability.
Over the years, American development experts in South Sudan have helped build new roads, clinics and schools; worked with farmers to grow more food; and trained more effective civil servants. As we move ahead, the United States and the world will be there as South Sudan lays the foundation for its future.
Third, Sudan must address its own challenges. Sudan’s future success rests on its ability to end its isolation in the international community. That is the only way it will secure access to international financing, investment and debt relief. The United States is prepared to help — including by normalizing our bilateral relations — and we have taken some initial steps in that direction. But we can move forward only if Sudan fulfills its obligations and demonstrates its commitment to peace within its borders and with its neighbors.
One urgent step both sides must take is agreeing to a cessation of hostilities in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan, which started in early June. We are deeply concerned about the continued aerial bombardments, harassment of U.N. staff and obstruction of humanitarian relief efforts. The longer this fighting goes on, the more difficult it will become to resolve.
We also remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian and security crisis in Darfur. Sudan’s government must move to address the economic and political grievances of the Darfuri people, and to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. The United States will continue to work with international partners to build on the progress made in the peace process that is now coming to a close.
After decades of conflict, the people of this region have reason to hope again. When I met with leaders of Sudan and South Sudan last month in Addis Ababa, I reminded them that they have the power to chart a better future for all Sudanese. As they do, they can be assured that the United States will be a steadfast partner.
The United States is encouraged by the July 4 meeting between Sudanese President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir at the Extraordinary Session of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development on Sudan in Addis Ababa. We welcome the commitment that Sudan’s leaders made to continue negotiations on outstanding issues following South Sudan’s independence on July 9. We urge the parties to set a firm deadline – no later than the end of July – for the resolution of these issues. Leaving key issues unresolved risks undermining the prospects for a positive and cooperative future relationship between Sudan and South Sudan.
We also welcome the leadership of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in convening the parties only five days before South Sudan’s independence, and appreciate the on-going work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in facilitating ongoing discussions between Sudanese leaders.
Recently the parties have made encouraging progress on interim arrangements for Abyei and security arrangements for the border zone between the North and South. Discussions on other areas, such as debt relief and currency, have also advanced. While these agreements reflect significant achievements, we remain concerned that several critical outstanding issues remain unresolved, including questions relating to the oil sector and the final status of Abyei.
The United States also calls on the parties to end the fighting in Southern Kordofan, and to facilitate unfettered access for aid workers to deliver humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by the conflict. We are concerned that President Bashir has raised objections to the political and security framework agreement previously negotiated by the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. We urge the Government of Sudan to work with the African Union High Level Implementation Panel urgently to overcome any objections so the vitally important discussions called for in that agreement can proceed.