QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for doing this.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is a pleasure, Savannah, and welcome to the State Department.
QUESTION: Thank you. Let’s talk about the news of the day, this plot by some members of the Quds Force to take out the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant here in Washington. I guess the question today is: How high does this go? Do we know that the top levels of the Iranian Government were aware of this plot?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me add my word of congratulations to our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, who once again have proven their extraordinary professionalism and disrupting this plot, which was a major accomplishment.
We think that this was conceived and directed from Tehran. We know that it goes to a certain level within the Quds Force, which is part of the Revolutionary Guard, which is the military wing of the Iranian Government. And we know that this was in the making and there was a lot of communication between the defendants and others in Tehran.
So we’re going to let the evidence unfold, but the important point to make is that this just is in violation of international norms. It is a state-sponsored act of terror, and the world needs to speak out strongly against it.
QUESTION: It’s very brazen, as you mentioned, which suggests the Iranians didn’t particularly fear retaliation by the U.S.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s a little hard to tell what was really going on, why this was given a seal of approval, why there was a go-ahead from Tehran, whether within their military and their government the kinds of the debates and divisions that we are now watching unfold – because it’s difficult to know who is actually making the decisions. Was this for political purposes? Was this just a crazy idea that got out of hand?
QUESTION: Do you think the ayatollah ordered it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We don’t know. We don’t know and I’m not going to speculate. But I am going to say that the Iranian Government has to take responsibility, because it was clearly done by, directed by, elements within the Iranian Government.
QUESTION: On Pakistan, the President, you, have repeatedly said the way to win in Afghanistan is to root out terrorism in Pakistan. To the extent that diplomatic efforts have failed to do so, is it time to consider military action against the terrorists in Pakistan? Is that being considered?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Savannah, we have a very complex and challenging relationship with Pakistan, but we have interests that are very much in line with America’s national security and Pakistani security. So we have a lot of cooperation that I think does deserve to be given some attention. We do a lot of work with the Pakistanis against terrorists. Of course, we acted unilaterally to take out bin Ladin. We will always act in America’s interest.
But what we want to see is more cooperation from the Pakistanis themselves. And we’ve seen some, but not enough.
QUESTION: To the extent cooperation has failed and diplomacy has failed, at what point does the U.S. say we are going to take unilateral action in Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we don’t want to open up another military conflict, and we certainly don’t want to wage a war on top of the ones we are currently involved in and beginning to wrap up. But we do expect the Pakistanis – and this has been delivered at the highest levels and we have set forth specific requests about what we would like to see them do – and we get some cooperation, but not enough. And that’s going to be continuing as a topic of intense negotiations between us.
QUESTION: On Afghanistan, we just had the anniversary, ten years of this war, ten years since you voted to authorize military force there. If you had known ten years ago that we would still be in it, that we’d have the fragile gains we have, would you have cast the same vote?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I would have, because the plot against the United States emanated from Afghanistan. The Taliban gave safe haven to al Qaida in Afghanistan. We had to retaliate. And in doing so, we brought much of the rest of the world – NATO and other countries – with us, because it was viewed as a threat to international security.
Now, in hindsight, there are decisions that I wish had been made or had been made earlier or with more commitment. I think President Obama made the right decision when he came into the White House to add to troops to essentially reverse the momentum of the Taliban, and we have done that.
And it’s easy to underestimate what has been accomplished. Life is a lot better for many Afghans, particularly for women, for young people. Infant mortality is down, economic activity is up, and lots of different kinds of criteria to demonstrate progress has been made.
And if you look at the last two and a half years under this Administration’s policy, certainly the Taliban is on the ropes. They are always going to keep fighting. Well, we’re going to keep fighting and killing them because they pose a threat to us and a threat to Afghanistan. But they’re also willing to begin some kind of process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-managed which we’re going to support.
QUESTION: The U.S. obviously continues to have deep struggles economically. I wondered if that makes your job harder. Do world leaders smell weakness in this country? Do they see an America that’s in decline?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if they do, they’re badly mistaken, because our country is not only the leader of the world, but we are expected to be by countless nations around the globe. And yes, we have challenges here at home, but these are challenges that we can meet. I’m very confident and optimistic about what America is capable of. I’ve lived through in my life a lot of ups and downs in our country, but you can never count America out and you should never bet against America.
So we do have to get our own house in order – our economic house, our political house – but at the same time we cannot abdicate leadership around the world because when we do it does come back to bite us. So I’m very much in the frame of explaining to Americans who are struggling, who have lost a job or have been foreclosed on, all the terrible things that are happening right here in our own country, why while we fix what’s wrong here domestically we cannot give up on American leadership around the world.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about your tenure as Secretary of State. I was thinking about something that, actually, Ambassador Holbrook said to me a while back. He said it’s a big job but not a good job. (Laughter.) Is being Secretary of State a big job or a good job?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s both. I know what Dick Holbrook meant, because he was such a foremost American diplomat. It’s an impossible job, because in the world we live in, it is 24/7, there is no respite. Where we used to be able to in the Cold War kind of manage relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, or when we looked at the challenges that we faced in the 20th century from start to finish, a fight against totalitarianism, there were relatively few power players. Now it’s a much more diverse set of actors on the international scene.
So I would like to say okay, I think I’ll just concentrate on the Middle East, on our relations with China, on the reset with Russia. Okay, well then what about everybody else and everything that they’re doing, and the importance of other countries, other regions, to our future? For example, Latin America is one of the most important regions to America’s future. We have more trade with our friends in Latin America than anywhere else in the world. We have democratic values in common with the vast majority of countries. So we can’t afford to say okay, well fine, we’re not going to be engaged in and working on these issues. We have to be open to being a part of making the world better everywhere. And that is a big challenge.
QUESTION: What’s the quality that you have that you didn’t know you would need as Secretary of State?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have traveled more than 600,000 miles, and you would think in the 21st century where we have instantaneous communication, where I can have a videoconference halfway around the world, that you wouldn’t be expected to travel as much. But in fact, I think people want you to show up even more. America has to show up, and I very proudly represent our country when I show up. So being on that airplane, making those visits, having those negotiations and discussions, is a very demanding part of the job, but necessary.
QUESTION: Why are you good at this job?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I hope I’m good at it. I think I understand not just the headlines – what are the crises of the moment. You asked about the Iranian plot. Obviously, that’s taken up a lot of my time, the time of my top staff. But it’s not just the headlines. It’s the trend lines. Where is the world going economically? How do we inject economic issues into diplomacy? How do we use 21st century technology so that we’re able to communicate not just with governments but with farmers in Africa, with women seeking their rights in Asia? How do we continue working on big issues like nonproliferation, even though it may not be in the headlines?
So I try to keep a kind of dual track going at all times. What are the immediate, urgent, even emergency issues that I have to deal with, but I don’t want to forget what’s going to matter to you and my daughter next year, five years, ten years? What’s going to happen to, for example, water and food? We’re having shortages; we’re having challenges for both. Climate change, despite the deniers, is real and is affecting how people interact with each other.
So I think it’s, for me, a real honor but it’s also a real challenge and one that I take to my heart because I feel so strongly that America has to lead and America’s leadership is absolutely indispensable.
QUESTION: You obviously know the policy inside and out, and you love the policy. What gets old about the job?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have to say, Savannah, just getting on and off the airplanes. I mean, that’s challenging and very tiring. But other than that, nothing gets old because no two days are the same. My inbox is filled with all kinds of reports from everywhere in the world. And maybe one day I’m thinking about what’s going to happen in the Arctic as the ice retreats and you can have greater navigation. How do we prevent spills of oil if we start drilling in the Arctic? And then I might be thinking about what do we do in Sub-Saharan Africa to try to increase how we help people with AIDS, TB, and malaria? It’s never the same, literally from hour to hour, which is why the job is so exciting for me.
QUESTION: You mentioned technology. I have to wonder, do you – how many people have your personal email address? Do you use your BlackBerry a lot? Do you like technology?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do.
QUESTION: Are you good at it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m okay. For someone of my generation, I’m okay. But no, I have a lot of security restraints on what I can and can’t do. But I do try to stay in touch as much as possible, and electronically is by far the easiest way to do that.
QUESTION: Are you a BlackBerry addict?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m an aficionado. I’m not sure about the addict part.
QUESTION: You mentioned all the travel. Not every Secretary has traveled like that. Why do you keep that pace? I mean, is someone pushing you to take all those trips?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, it’s because I think it’s important. When I first became Secretary of State, one of the reports that I took very seriously was this idea in Asia that because we’d been so focused on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan – understandably so because we had our young men and women at risk in those places – I heard that people in Asia thought we were kind of giving up on being a Pacific power. So I immediately went there, and I’ve gone back and back and back, because I think it’s important not just to go once and kind of wave and have the meetings and not return, but to build those relationships and to look for ways that we can not just have the United States present, but in a position to help manage some of the upcoming problems that we know are just over the horizon.
And that’s true everywhere in the world. So, nobody is saying, “Okay, you need to go here and you need to go there.” I’m thinking through where can I have impact; where do I need to be; does America have to have a role in this, or can we hand it off to others? And that’s a constant evaluation I’m engaged in.
QUESTION: What is the Hillary doctrine? Do you have a grand sweeping strategy or vision that you could articulate in a sentence?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe strongly in the United States of America. I believe in our values. I believe our values represent the greatest accomplishment in political history and the history of the world, and those values are not just American values. So I believe the United States has both an opportunity and obligation to make clear around the world that democracy and freedom, free market economies that are open, and meritocracies, providing support for people’s human rights and those fundamental badges of liberty that we know enhance your God-given potential, that’s who we are as a people.
And so through our diplomacy and our development work, are we protecting America’s security? Yes. We are full partners with our military in doing that. Are we promoting our interests and our values? Absolutely. Because it’s not only that we’re the strongest military, we are the strongest economy, but are also the strongest value statement about what human beings can achieve if we are organized appropriately.
QUESTION: You only have a certain amount of time left in this position. What’s the one thing you want to be able to point to and have people be able to say, “Hillary Clinton left it better than she found it”?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Despite very difficult circumstances when President Obama and I started our jobs, we have reasserted American leadership. We are clearly going to lead. And we are going to lead, despite budget difficulties. We are going to lead, despite other countries coming to the forefront and having an opportunity themselves to achieve a better future for their people. We are going to lead because America is destined to lead. And that was not always so, and I think even today some people are saying, “Well, you’re on your economic back heels. Your political system is not functioning.” So America’s values are enduring, and our durability as a nation that people look to, admire, and wish to exemplify is, for me, just permanent. But we need to continue working on it because leadership is not bestowed. It has to be earned, and it has to be earned by every generation and by every political administration in our country.
QUESTION: You mentioned President Obama. So many people are curious about your relationship. You went from arch political rivals to now allies in this Administration. You have to be honest, though; it was certainly awkward at first, wasn’t it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Savannah, of course, because we had had a hard-fought election. And I wanted to beat him, and he ended up beating me and then was elected president. But one of the points that I make as I travel around the world – and it’s always takes people by surprise, because where countries are transitioning to democracy – put aside the ones that don’t have democracy, they’re autocracies or somebody or some group, small group of people, decide who’s going to lead.
But in countries that are either striving for democracy or on the brink of achieving it, when I say, look, I ran against President Obama. He ran against me. He beat me. He asked me to serve our country and him in his Administration. Why? Because we both love our country. So I said yes. Because at the end of the day, we have to be bigger than politics, personal politics or partisan politics.
QUESTION: Are you –
SECRETARY CLINTON: People really gasp at that when I tell them anywhere in the world. They kind of think, “Gee, could our leaders do that?” So it’s been an incredible experience.
QUESTION: Do you think you’re in the inner circle?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think on the issues that I work on in the national security arena, absolutely.
QUESTION: Does he ever ask you for political advice?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, every so often, but I keep that to myself.
QUESTION: Are you – as a woman, I know this matters a lot to you. I’m sure you’ve heard the persistent – not really rumors, but I’m sure you’ve heard the criticism that it’s a little bit of an old boy’s club over there at the White House. You ever see that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m in such a different position being in the cabinet and having a one-on-one relationship with the President on these important issues. So I think that everywhere – in Washington, in America, and around the world – can do better when it comes to empowering women. And so I think that that certainly is the President’s view with his wife and his two daughters; he’s very committed to that.
QUESTION: If you Google yourself today – you ever Google yourself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t. I’m a little worried about that. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah. If you Googled yourself today, you would find suggestions that perhaps you would be Vice President, that you could – there would be a switcheroo, and that you might possibly be the Vice President and Biden would come over here as Secretary of State. Is there any chance you would be Vice President in a second term?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. There is not.
QUESTION: Is it in the realm of possibility?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do not think it’s even in the realm of possibility and in large measure because I think Vice President Biden has done an amazingly good job. He has taken on the burden of selling the economic plan, of traveling the country, of answering people’s questions.
QUESTION: Has anyone ever raised this possibility to you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. I just – I think it’s maybe a subject for speculation on Google, but it’s not a serious issue in the Administration.
QUESTION: Will you run for President in 2016?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. Savannah, I’m very privileged to have had the opportunities to serve my country. And I am really old-fashioned; I feel like I’ve made my contribution, I’ve done the best I can, but now I want to try some other things. I want to get back to writing and maybe some teaching, working on women and girls around the world.
QUESTION: But Secretary Clinton, politics is in your blood. People will not believe that you are closing the door and locking it on running for office ever again.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they’ll have to just watch and wait. Because I really think it’s time for me to move on beyond high-level political and public service. I’ve been at the highest reaches of American politics and now global politics for 20 years, and I have made my contribution. I’m very grateful I’ve had a chance to serve, but I think it’s time for others to step up.
QUESTION: Are you definitely going to leave after the first term?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I have made it clear that, of course, I’ll wait until the President has a nominee who’s confirmed, because I assume and believe the President will be reelected, and the work that we are doing will continue. And that gives me a great deal of comfort, because I think we are on the right track and that there are a lot of important issues that we are pushing forward on. But then I will leave.
QUESTION: Back to the President thing for a minute. What if Democrats came to you in 2016 and said, “You are the highest-profile Democrat. You are the only person who can help us get the White House,” perhaps win the White House back at that point. Would you not, as a patriot, say, “Okay, I’ll do it for my country”? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I would say I will back whoever our nominee is and I will do so strongly. And we have a lot of people waiting in the wings who I think will be terrific Democratic standard bearers.
QUESTION: One title I know you seek to have one of these days is grandmother.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. You figured that out. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: But I notice that Chelsea has been doing more events. We saw her a couple of weeks ago doing an event with you. She definitely has the Clinton touch. Do you think she has the Clinton bug for politics?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know. I don’t have any reason to believe that. I think she does have the public service bug. That seems to be in our DNA. I think she wants to help make a difference and she wants to use the experiences and opportunities she’s been given during the course of her life to figure out what her own contribution will be.
QUESTION: And what do you think life will be like when, after twenty years in politics, it will be you and the former President at home, sitting around?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I mean, obviously, we’re going to be very active. We have foundation work and Bill’s incredible invention of the Clinton Global Initiative, and I’m going to be looking at ways that I can continue to promote what I care a lot about, particularly the rights and opportunities for women and girls around the world, and other related matters. But it is something that I’m really looking forward to enjoying.
When I get to go home on the weekends, which is not often enough, it’s just great to be doing as little as possible, taking long walks, just taking a deep breath. And I think after this twenty years that will be very welcome.
QUESTION: What do you think of this vegan diet he’s got going?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It works for him. And he – I have to say, Savannah, he has rarely gotten so much reaction since he left the White House as when he talked about it because he basically said, “Look, I mean, some people are more vulnerable to heart problems than other people,” and so he reversed his diet, but he felt like he needed to go even further, and he thinks it’s working for him.
QUESTION: Last thing, because I’m getting the look over here. (Laughter.) There’s been a lot of rumblings lately, particularly among Democrats, as the President’s fortunes politically have fallen, that it should have been Hillary and that she would have done a better job. And I guess that’s got to feel good. It can’t feel bad.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know what? It feels irrelevant to me because a decision was made. I think the President has done an excellent job under the most difficult circumstances. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for making a lot of the tough decisions that he had to make that he inherited when he came into office.
QUESTION: You don’t feel vindicated by all that talk that Hillary would have done a better job?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. Because I mean everybody comes into any office with their strengths and their weaknesses, with their areas of expertise and what they have to learn. Everybody does. Everybody comes to that. And I think the President will be reelected because I think when he’s actually running against somebody, the American people will say, “Well, wait a minute, we’re going through hard times, but his solutions, his analysis of the problem makes a lot more sense, and we’re going to give him a second term to finish the job.”
QUESTION: Well, Dick Cheney thought you would do a good job. (Laughter.) Bill Maher said, “She knows how to deal with difficult men.” (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well –
QUESTION: Do you feel vindicated?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. Look, I feel – maybe because I have been at this and do have twenty years of work behind me, I feel like this is all predictable; that we’re living in times that are hard to navigate; the politics and polices are difficult – if they were easy, everybody would be in agreement – and that we need leadership that’s willing to make hard decisions and willing to confront the American political system with the choices. And I think the President has done that.
QUESTION: And your political popularity is at its zenith. This is, I think, you’re ninth year running as Gallup’s most admired woman. You’re the most popular member of this Administration. But I’m sure you can remember back to a time when that always – wasn’t always the case. How do you explain that change?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Savannah, that’s why I think having a longer sort of historical view helps me a lot. Because I never get as inflated as the praise or the positive numbers and feelings would lead me, and I never get as deflated as the criticism might suggest, because your fortunes in public life go up and down. That is just the nature of the beast.
QUESTION: But you haven’t changed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think I have changed. But I think that people have maybe gotten to know me better. They’ve seen me in more settings. They’ve watched me closely. And for that I’m grateful, because I really try to get up every day and just figure out what’s the best way I can serve my country. And I go back to this idea of look, it’s – it maybe is old-fashioned, but I want to encourage young people who are watching you to think about ways of serving and to raise your voices. I am fully in favor of people being deep into the political debate. And now with the internet, there are so many ways we’ve got to do it.
But at the end of the debate, decisions have to be made, and sometimes compromise is required. So whether you’re on the right or the left, you cannot believe you have the only truth. That’s not the way a democracy works. That’s not the way our country has succeeded. You have to listen to each other, and yes, you have to find compromise. And those of us who are particularly blessed and fortunate, we do have to think of ways to give back to this extraordinary country that has helped us become who we are.
So these are real rock-bottom values that I was raised with by my small businessman father and my dear mother, and I want to keep trying to convey to not only our American audience but the worldwide audience why I believe so deeply in the American enterprise. And I’m going to do that for as long as I have a chance to in whatever setting I am in.
QUESTION: Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.
QUESTION: It was wonderful to talk to you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Wonderful to talk to you. Thank you.
Ambassador Johnson on Rule of Law: Legislative transparency, Independence of the judiciary, Right to a fair trial
(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 4)
The rule of law underpins all of our human dimension commitments. Today, we will focus on certain elements of rule of law—legislative transparency, independence of the judiciary and the right to a fair trial. But, I think it is useful to pause for a moment to consider what we mean when we talk about rule of law. In a speech a few years ago while acknowledging the risks of “formulating something too insufficient for the great purpose behind the phrase,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, set out a working definition of the rule of law. According to Justice Kennedy, there are three main components:
First: “The law is superior to, and thus binds, the government and all its officials.”
Second: “The law must respect and preserve the dignity, equality, and human rights of all persons. To those ends, the law must establish and safeguard the constitutional structures necessary to build a free society in which all citizens have a meaningful voice in shaping and enacting the rules that govern them.”
And, third: “The law must devise and maintain systems to advise all persons of their right, and it must empower them to fulfill just expectations and seek redress of grievances without fear or penalty and retaliation.”
Where these conditions exist people thrive and economies flourish. Where they do not societies and individuals pay a high price. Where even one of these components is missing, rule of law does not genuinely exist. Consider the words of the former Chief Justice of South Africa, Arthur Chaskalson: “The apartheid government, its officers and agency were accountable in accordance with the laws; the laws were clear, publicized and stable, and were upheld by law enforcement officials and judges, what was missing was the substantive component of the rule of law. The process by which laws were made was not fair…and the laws themselves were not fair.”
As I read this description, I cannot but think of the situation in the United States prior to the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Based on our own experience and history, we are cognizant that the struggle to ensure a genuine state of rule of law is never ending, and requires constant vigilance. It requires, among other things, an engaged citizenry, strong civil society and free media. That is why the presence here in Warsaw of so many non-governmental organizations is of such importance. For it is often the courageous work of NGOs that makes us aware of the consequences of a failure to uphold any element of rule of law and that helps us guide us toward remedies and progress.
In Russia, the tragic deaths in custody of Sergei Magnitsky and Vera Trifonova are solemn reminders of the human cost of a deficient, poorly functioning and corrupt criminal justice system—a system in which officials have remained above the law, not accountable before it. Ms. Trifonova was arrested and allegedly denied medical attention for diabetes in an attempt to force her to confess to charges of fraud. She subsequently died in prison. Mr. Magnitsky, an attorney arrested on tax evasion charges and who died of medical neglect in pretrial detention, is widely believed to have been imprisoned as retribution for his claim that government officials stole over $200 million in a tax fraud scheme involving the company he represented. The same officials he accused of corruption were responsible for his arrest. Withering publicity and international outrage have only now begun to pierce the atmosphere of impunity that surrounds corrupt officials and stifles the rule of law in this tragic case. The intentional denial of medical care is also a form of intimidation, with the apparent goal of securing coerced confessions.
The second trial, verdict, and sentence against former Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev also evoke serious concerns about the right to a fair trial and the independence of the judiciary in the Russian Federation. We are troubled by the allegations of serious due process violations, and concerned about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations.
The United States is very concerned about the poor conduct of trials as well as continuing police abuse in the wake of the June 2010 violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. Trials and arrests in connection with the violence have not been conducted fairly. As many as 91 percent of those prosecuted for crimes related to the June events have been ethnic Uzbeks, despite the fact that ethnic Uzbeks were the overwhelming majority of the victims. Few ethnic Kyrgyz have been investigated or prosecuted. Many prosecutions have been based on confessions allegedly extracted under torture. Defendants’ allegations of torture are rarely investigated or are simply dismissed, and trials have proceeded in spite of these claims. Moreover, defendants and their lawyers have been physically attacked during the trials, often in the courtroom itself and in front of judges and police, with little effort by authorities to intervene. The murder conviction of Azimjon Askarov is the most widely known of these cases, but it is far from isolated. Dozens of cases have been documented in which ethnic Uzbeks convicted of crimes related to the June violence did not receive trials that would be considered fair and impartial by international standards. Askarov’s Supreme Court appeal has been on hold since February 2011 with no explanation or timeframe for resolution by the court.
The August 2011 death of Osmonjon Khalmurzaev following his detention and beating by police in Bazar Korgon near Jalalabad is another disturbing example of these abuses. The police practice of arbitrary arrests and detention for the purpose of extorting bribes has continued since June 2010 and needs to end. Khalmurzaev was arrested at his home on August 7 by police claiming he was connected to the June 2010 violence. No warrant was shown for his arrest. Later that day he called his wife saying he was being severely beaten by three police officers who demanded money for his release. Upon receipt of some money, the police released Khalmurzaev, who fell into a coma the following day. He died on August 9, apparently of internal bleeding; autopsy results are pending. The government has opened an investigation into the death and removed four police officers from their posts. While this case has come to light because of Khalmurzaev’s death, many other cases do not become public as victims are afraid that reporting the abuse could lead to more police outrages. We further call on the government to ensure that all cases and trials are conducted fairly according to international standards, with safety ensured for all participants.
In Kazakhstan, arrests may be used for political purposes, and trials may be unfairly conducted. For example Natalya Sokolova, the lawyer for the striking oil workers, was sentenced in August to six years in jail for “igniting social unrest,” an excessive sentence that would appear to be punishment for her assistance to the labor union. We continue to be concerned that Kazakhstani human rights activist Evgeny Zhovtis remains in prison following flawed investigative and judicial proceedings. For example, defense evidence was not allowed to be presented, and defense witnesses were not allowed to testify.
In Belarus, the government routinely denies citizens due process and the country’s judiciary has no independence from the Lukashenka regime. The convictions of more than 40 presidential candidates, democratic opposition leaders and pro-democracy protestors in connection with the December 19, 2010, presidential elections failed to meet even the most minimal standards required of a fair and independent judiciary. We consider all those convicted and jailed to be political prisoners, and we have and will continue to call for their immediate and unconditional release. We are also concerned about the government’s disbarment of at least six lawyers who represented some of the defendants, including Tamara Sidarenka, who represented two former presidential candidates at their trials earlier this year.
While progress has been made in developing democracy and reform in Ukraine, we are concerned about several recent developments. The misuse of criminal investigations and legal proceedings to put pressure on opposition politicians via targeted prosecutions, including the arrest and arbitrary detention of former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko and former acting Defense Minister Valeriy Ivashchenko, as well as lesser known civil society activists, has demonstrated the further deterioration of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Ukraine.
In Azerbaijan, we are concerned about the appearance of political motivation in the detentions of 16 opposition leaders and two youth activists. Opposition youth activist Jabbar Savalanli, who was convicted on May 4 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison on alleged drug possession charges, was detained shortly after making online comments calling for pro-democracy protests. Procedural irregularities, combined with the timing and circumstances surrounding Mr. Savalanli’s arrest, raise concerns that Mr. Savalanli was targeted on the basis of his political activities. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, a youth activist and candidate in the November 2010 parliamentary elections, was sentenced to 2 years in jail on May 18, 2011, allegedly for evading military service. The timing of Mr. Hajiyev’s arrest, which immediately followed his efforts to organize pro-democracy protests earlier this year in Azerbaijan, raises questions about authorities’ use of the judicial system to punish dissent. On August 11, Azerbaijani authorities demolished the building owned by human rights activist Leyla Yunos, which housed the Institute for Peace and Democracy and two other NGOs, as well as Ms. Yunos’ residence. The authorities conducted this demolition despite a court injunction prohibiting such action, thus raising concerns about the government’s respect for rule of law. Such lack of respect for the judiciary, the timing of the demolition—within 48 hours of the publication of an article in the New York Times citing Ms. Yunos on the broad problem of private property demolitions—and subsequent reports of intimidation of some of Ms. Yunos’s colleagues, also raise concerns that this case is politically motivated.
We are concerned that the arrests and trials of individuals charged with belonging to certain groups banned in Uzbekistan are not conducted in accordance with international obligations. In particular, prosecutions are often based merely on printed material. There are frequently reports that the courts allow admissions of guilt allegedly made under duress or as the result of torture, and that defendants do not have access to qualified defense attorneys.
While it is unfortunately denied a seat at this table, the United States holds Kosovo accountable to OSCE norms. Kosovo lacks a fully independent judiciary in practice and the courts do not consistently afford due process at trial. Corruption is pervasive among public officials, negatively impacting legislative transparency. Corruption and outside influence seriously impede judicial independence. Outside influences include political pressures from parties and other branches of the government, family, and friendship ties, as well as outright bribes. Further, the existence of Serbian Government funded-parallel structures in northern Kosovo continue to block the restoration of a fully functioning, multi-ethnic judiciary, resulting in prolonged detentions, indefinitely delayed trials and a lack of due process.
In Albania, political pressure, intimidation, widespread corruption, and limited resources have also sometimes prevented the judiciary from functioning independently and efficiently. The politicization of appointments to the High and Constitutional Courts threaten to undermine the independence and integrity of these courts, and police officers are known to mistreat detainees.
Here, I would like to note that problems in the judicial sector are widespread across the former East Bloc and Soviet Union. It has been a more stubborn challenge than most had imagined to solidify the deep and fundamental changes needed to bring judiciaries in the region fully in line with democratic practices. Polls indicate that in many OSCE countries, including some of those that have navigated democratic transitions most successfully, citizens have lost faith in corrupt, inefficient and unaccountable judiciaries. Corruption and cronyism among judiciaries affect not only the citizenry of a given country, but also the security and prosperity of all who are linked through commerce and shared borders. It is a disincentive to investment and a drain on development. Examples abound of governments, individual judges and NGOs that are working to ensure that the judiciary in their country is both independent and accountable. We should support these efforts, and consider ways in which we can build further on ODIHR’s excellent work in this field, for instance in promoting the consideration by participating States of the “Kyiv Recommendations on Judicial Independence.”
The focus of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on witness protection in the Western Balkans also warrants our attention here. Witness testimony is indispensible everywhere for justice to prevail and, where conflict has divided society, for reconciliation to take place. The PACE report of Mr. Jean-Charles Gardetto notes progress in this area but identifies a continuing need for significant improvement due to threats, intimidation and even murder of witnesses that deter others, without adequate protection, from coming forward. This creates an environment of impunity throughout the Balkans. The United States would like to stress to all parties the importance of witness protection in the EULEX investigation into organized crime and organ trafficking that allegedly took place in Kosovo and Albania in 1999.
The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations. A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.
Thank you, Strobe, for that kind introduction. I’m delighted to be back at Brookings for this important conference. And I’m especially delighted to be here with India’s new Ambassador to the United States, Nirupama Rao, an extraordinary diplomat and a wonderful friend. As Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Rao helped shape every advance we made in U.S.-Indian relations in recent years, and both India and the United States are lucky to have her here.
It is also a genuine pleasure, and a genuine honor, to be introduced by Strobe Talbott, who set the standard both for Deputy Secretaries of State and for U.S.-Indian diplomacy over a decade ago. Strobe’s vision helped put U.S.-India relations on their current productive path, culminating in President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in 2000, the first trip to India by a sitting President in 22 years. Ten years later, it took President Obama only 22 months to become the first President to visit India in his first term.
During that visit, President Obama offered the clearest possible answer to the question posed by this conference — he made emphatically clear that the U.S.-India partnership has a future, a very bright and consequential future. During that visit, the President told India’s parliament, “the United States not only supports India as a rising power; we fervently support it, and we have worked to help make it a reality.” Just as a strong India is in America’s interest, a strong America is in India’s interest, and a strong U.S-India partnership benefits not only our two countries, but the entire world.
And yet, a strong U.S.-India partnership is neither automatic nor self-implementing. We each carry baggage of different kinds, and we each have our own world views, our own domestic preoccupations, and our own sense of our interests. Problems and disagreements will inevitably arise. But no one should mistake the inevitable differences between two close, opinionated friends for loss of momentum — or worse, the lack of a future. Our track record is clear and our commitment is firm. President Obama’s resoundingly successful visit last year made history with our endorsement of a permanent Indian seat on a reformed UN Security Council and our clear expression of support for India’s future membership in the major non-proliferation regimes. These are momentous steps.
So there is, it seems obvious to me, a bright future for the U.S.-India strategic partnership. That future will bear no resemblance to the distant past of mutual estrangement, but it is also unlikely to always resemble the recent past — when it seemed every 18 months brought new breakthroughs like the civil-nuclear deal, or support for permanent UNSC membership, or export controls reform. Our challenge today is to broaden and deepen our bilateral, regional, and global cooperation. Given India’s emergence as a global power and the breadth of our common challenges, no single issue and no single breakthrough can or should define our partnership. What matters is its overall health, its steady progress, and the long-term investment required to sustain both.
Let me talk briefly about three especially important dimensions of our growing partnership: boosting our mutual prosperity; deepening cooperation in India’s immediate neighborhood and east across Asia and the Pacific; and efforts to solve global problems together.
I. Meeting the Economic Needs of Our People
Our bilateral economic relationship is anchored in the realization that our long-term interests are essentially congruent and mutually reinforcing. Each of us has a large stake in the others’ success. The tangible economic benefits of our relations — for businesses big and small, for people in the middle class and those rising towards it, are irrefutable. The old narrative of outsourcing and zero-sum competition has given way to the reality of balanced, mutually-beneficial, and rapidly growing commerce between our nations. From USAID programs to eradicate polio and promote maternal and child health to cutting-edge cooperation in clean energy technology, agriculture, science and space, we are committed to being a partner in helping build a new India.
The modernization of India and the lifting up of hundreds of millions of Indians out of poverty necessarily remains the focus of the Indian government. This extraordinary — and so far extraordinarily successful — effort requires India to sustain its high rate of economic growth, open markets for its goods and services, and attract the investment needed to realize its vision of inclusive development. There is no more important partner for India in this endeavor than the United States. Over the past decade, our bilateral trade has doubled and then almost doubled again. Our total direct investment in India rose tenfold, from $2.4 billion in 2000 to $27.1 billion in 2010.
The economic needs of the American people are central to our own diplomacy around the world, as we work to find new markets for American products and exports. The United States therefore has an enormous stake in India’s economic rise. India has grown on average seven-and-a-half percent each year for the past decade, and American companies want to compete in India’s growing markets and take advantage of investment opportunities — not least the $1 trillion India expects to invest in building infrastructure by 2017. India is now the Export-Import Bank’s second largest portfolio, after Mexico.
Together, we are drawing the best from both of our societies to make better products that compete and win in the global economy. Tata Steel has a plant in Ohio; Boeing uses engineers in Bangalore to design 787s whose parts are manufactured across America. India’s direct investment in the United States has grown by an average of 33 percent each year since 2005 and, in the decade between 2000 and 2010, increased from a negligible $96 million to over $3.3 billion, with Indian companies now employing tens of thousands of Americans.
Completing our civil nuclear partnership is central to both our nations’ long-term prosperity and India’s future energy security. For international and Indian firms to participate in India’s civil nuclear sector, India needs a nuclear liability regime consistent with international standards. To this end, we welcome India’s commitment to ratify the Convention on Supplemental Compensation later this year, and we encourage India to engage with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that India’s liability regime fully conforms with the international requirements under the Convention.
The next step in the pursuit of mutual prosperity is a U.S.-India bilateral investment treaty, which would enhance transparency, boost innovation, and create jobs. Technical negotiations are about to get underway, and we must continue to make progress. Just as the United States will be integral to India’s sustained economic growth and its efforts to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty, India’s emergence will be integral to long-term U.S. economic prosperity.
II. India’s Rise as an Asian Power
We are counting on India’s rise not just as an economic partner but as a global power — one that engages everywhere from Latin America to the Middle East to East Asia. India’s leadership in promoting a more stable South Asia — its multibillion dollar assistance commitment to Afghanistan, its determination to re-engage and normalize trade with Pakistan, and its joint projects to boost infrastructure and capacity in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives — offer the hope of a more peaceful future for the region and the world. Ambassador Rao’s personal efforts as Foreign Secretary to revive dialogue between India and Pakistan and consider mutually-beneficial steps in trade and other areas are particularly commendable.
For U.S. and Indian policymakers, a successful transition in Afghanistan is a shared imperative and an area of increasing cooperation. As the United States draws down our forces and transfers responsibility for security to the Afghan people, we are ever mindful of Afghanistan’s recent history and the terrible cost of neglect. None of us can afford to make that mistake again. We are making headway in negotiating a new Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Afghans to extend beyond 2014. As Secretary Clinton emphatically noted in Chennai with regard to our long-term commitment to Afghanistan’s stability, “we will be there.”
Success in Afghanistan depends on ensuring that others are there, too. That certainly includes India. With coalition forces drawing down, Afghanistan will need extensive private investment and economic linkages with its neighbors. And yet today, the countries of South and Central Asia trade less with each other than nearly any region in the world. Goods are shipped thousands of miles out of the way simply to avoid hostile territory.
Even with no direct access to India’s rising middle class market, Afghanistan already sends one-quarter of its exports to India. Imagine what will be possible when transit and trade agreements extend outward to India and Central Asia, and Afghan traders are able to shift goods directly to the markets of Mysore and Mumbai, and Indian innovation and capital can play the same role lifting Afghan prosperity that it has at home. The “New Silk Road,” as we envision it, is not a single path — it is a vision of economic, transit, infrastructure and human links between South and Central Asia. India can be its economic engine.
Just as the United States and India have a mutual stake in supporting a stable and more integrated South Asia, we must also work together as the strategic center of gravity for world affairs shifts toward the Asia-Pacific region, where India has a vital role to play. It is precisely for this reason that the U.S. and India decided to launch a strategic dialogue on the Asia-Pacific in 2010. Since then, this mechanism has emerged as a model for the type of engagement and dialogue that we need to identify new areas of cooperation and to pursue complementary strategies.
We are keenly aware that “talk is talk,” and that action is key. That is why we are transforming our engagement with India on the Asia-Pacific from dialogue to real action and concrete outcomes in areas such as maritime and port security, counter-piracy, disaster preparedness and humanitarian relief.
India is already a powerful economic and cultural presence in the East — from the temples of Bali to the dynamic expatriate communities who connect India with the export-driven economies of Southeast Asia. India has built a vast network of bilateral economic cooperation agreements and security arrangements in the Asia-Pacific with traditional American allies like Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and with our other partners, like Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. We are launching a new U.S.-India-Japan trilateral consultation on regional issues. India’s outreach is growing, moving toward a comprehensive vision for the East Asia region — a “Look East” policy that is becoming an “Act East” policy.
We also hope that India will join us in working to strengthen Asia’s many regional institutions. Prime Minister Singh’s appearance alongside President Obama at the East Asia Summit in November will help that grouping become the premier forum for our leaders to discuss political and security issues in Asia. Secretary Clinton has underscored our commitment to work closely with India as we deepen our engagement with ASEAN. As Ambassador Rao once commented to me, Southeast Asia begins in Northeast India. India already trades nearly as much in goods with the ASEAN region as it does with the United States. An architecture of free trade and investment that connects India to all of Southeast and East Asia will have a profound impact on global trade and economic growth.
Finally, the 21st century Asia-Pacific we seek is one in which India, the United States and China all enjoy good relations. Whatever our differences, we know that, as this century advances, fewer and fewer global problems will be solvable without constructive cooperation amongst our three great countries. To paraphrase India’s National Security Advisor, I have no doubt that Asia and the world are big enough for the three of us — if we want them to be. We will all benefit from enhanced collaboration in the years ahead.
III. India and Global Challenges
Across the world, I believe that India and America — two leaderships and two peoples with so many converging interests, shared values and common concerns — can help shape a more secure, stable, democratic and just global system. India can make a decisive contribution to building what Secretary Clinton has called “the global architecture of cooperation” to solve problems that no one country can solve on its own.
That’s why President Obama said that the United States looks forward, in the years ahead, to a reformed United Nations Security Council, with India as a permanent member. It is why we are working together through the G-20 to rebalance the global economy in what has become the world’s leading forum for international economic cooperation. It is why we have worked together in Copenhagen and Cancun and will work together in Durban to combat changes to our climate that threaten the Himalayan plateaus and the American heartland alike. It is why we are helping India spread its agricultural expertise to other developing nations. It is why we have dramatically deepened our cooperation on counter-terrorism and homeland security. And it is why President Obama and Prime Minister Singh have each committed their country to the long-term vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Across the board, we hope India recognizes that with increased power comes increased responsibility — including the recognition, in the spirit of Gandhi, that an assault on human rights and freedom in one place is an assault on human rights and freedom everywhere. Recent weeks have seen encouraging signs from Burma, including a new embrace of the language of reform. Then-Foreign Secretary Rao’s meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this year was an important step, and we hope that the Indian government will use its close ties in Burma to encourage concrete action on political and economic reform and national reconciliation.
We also hope we can look together at the profound changes sweeping across the Middle East, and see our common stake in successful transitions in a part of the world that matters enormously to both of us. The singular feature of the revolutions that make up the new Arab Awakening is that they are driven from within, animated by a thirst for dignity and participation in societies which for far too long have produced far too little of either. That is also the great enduring strength of those revolutions, and it is the ultimate repudiation of the al-Qaida narrative that change can only come through violent extremism.
While all of us should be careful not to obscure the home-grown strength of the Arab Spring, none of us can afford to neglect its historic sweep or fail to address the brutalities of regimes bent on denying their citizens their dignity and their universal rights. The simple truth is that there is no going back to the way things were. There is only a path forward — a hard and difficult path, filled with troubles and backsliding and detours — but a path forward nonetheless.
India has a great deal to offer people and societies starting down that path. We applaud India’s offer to send election experts to Egypt, and hope India can expand its support for the new Libya, and stand with the Syrian people as they peacefully demand their universal rights. While no country should seek to impose its own political system on others, India remains a stirring example of a successful, multi-party democracy that offers hope to societies wracked by political turmoil and sectarian or tribal divides. We hope India will recognize the value of helping others match that achievement.
If we want a truly global strategic partnership, America and India must seek out opportunities to act as partners at the UN and other international fora. The collective action we have endorsed together through the G-20, the Nuclear Security Summit and the Global Counterterrorism Forum we launched last week in New York are excellent examples of our capacity to work constructively together to solve the problems no one nation can solve alone. The United States and India have no fundamental conflicts of interest, so there is no reason why we should not strive to be closer partners in the UN system and beyond. That will take time, and we will have our share of frictions along the way, but it is in both our interests to try.
For our part, accepting India as a global power means learning to agree to disagree sometimes. It means recognizing that profound mutual interests and shared values do not add up to unanimity of opinion. And, with cooperation moving forward on so many issues, a few differences need not cause us to lose momentum or ask whether there is a future for our partnership.
The greatest risk is not disagreement — it is inattention. It is the possibility, through domestic political distractions or failure of imagination or simple complacency, that America and India might leave the full potential of our partnership unmet.
The truth is that we have crossed a threshold in our relations where — for both of us, for the first time — our success at home and abroad depends on our cooperation. America’s vision of a secure, stable, prosperous 21st century world has at its heart a strong partnership with a rising India. The question is not whether we have a future, or whether we will have a strategic partnership. The question is whether we are doing as much as we can to ensure that we realize its full promise. Few questions will matter more — for both of us — in the new century unfolding before us.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor for me to be here today. I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations — the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.
War and conflict have been with us since the beginning of civilizations. But in the first part of the 20th century, the advance of modern weaponry led to death on a staggering scale. It was this killing that compelled the founders of this body to build an institution that was focused not just on ending one war, but on averting others; a union of sovereign states that would seek to prevent conflict, while also addressing its causes.
No American did more to pursue this objective than President Franklin Roosevelt. He knew that a victory in war was not enough. As he said at one of the very first meetings on the founding of the United Nations, “We have got to make, not merely peace, but a peace that will last.”
The men and women who built this institution understood that peace is more than just the absence of war. A lasting peace — for nations and for individuals — depends on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom. It depends on struggle and sacrifice, on compromise, and on a sense of common humanity.
One delegate to the San Francisco Conference that led to the creation of the United Nations put it well: “Many people,” she said, “have talked as if all that has to be done to get peace was to say loudly and frequently that we loved peace and we hated war. Now we have learned that no matter how much we love peace and hate war, we cannot avoid having war brought upon us if there are convulsions in other parts of the world.”
The fact is peace is hard. But our people demand it. Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third world war, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and our hatred of war, there are still convulsions in our world that endanger us all.
I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place — Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization — remained at large. Today, we’ve set a new direction.
At the end of this year, America’s military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq — for its government and for its security forces, for its people and for their aspirations.
As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and security forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.
So let there be no doubt: The tide of war is receding. When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.
Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.
So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.” Those bedrock beliefs — in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women — must be our guide.
And in that effort, we have reason to hope. This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.
Think about it: One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt. But the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination. And last summer, as a new flag went up in Juba, former soldiers laid down their arms, men and women wept with joy, and children finally knew the promise of looking to a future that they will shape.
One year ago, the people of Côte D’Ivoire approached a landmark election. And when the incumbent lost, and refused to respect the results, the world refused to look the other way. U.N. peacekeepers were harassed, but they did not leave their posts. The Security Council, led by the United States and Nigeria and France, came together to support the will of the people. And Côte D’Ivoire is now governed by the man who was elected to lead.
One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed. But they chose the dignity of peaceful protest over the rule of an iron fist. A vendor lit a spark that took his own life, but he ignited a movement. In a face of a crackdown, students spelled out the word, “freedom.” The balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled. And now the people of Tunisia are preparing for elections that will move them one step closer to the democracy that they deserve.
One year ago, Egypt had known one President for nearly 30 years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were glued to Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life — men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian — demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw, from Selma to South Africa — and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab world.
One year ago, the people of Libya were ruled by the world’s longest-serving dictator. But faced with bullets and bombs and a dictator who threatened to hunt them down like rats, they showed relentless bravery. We will never forget the words of the Libyan who stood up in those early days of the revolution and said, “Our words are free now.” It’s a feeling you can’t explain. Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort; Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.
In the months that followed, the will of the coalition proved unbreakable, and the will of the Libyan people could not be denied. Forty-two years of tyranny was ended in six months. From Tripoli to Misurata to Benghazi — today, Libya is free. Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.
This is how the international community is supposed to work — nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights. Now, all of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya — the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.
So this has been a remarkable year. The Qaddafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper — “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” — is closer at hand.
But let us remember: Peace is hard. Peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations. And we have more work to do.
In Iran, we’ve seen a government that refuses to recognize the rights of its own people. As we meet here today, men and women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria’s borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?
Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria’s leaders. We supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. And many of our allies have joined in this effort. But for the sake of Syria — and the peace and security of the world — we must speak with one voice. There’s no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.
Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.
In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.
We believe that each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend on elections that are free and fair; on governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are the elements of peace that can last.
Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.
Now, I know, particularly this week, that for many in this hall, there’s one issue that stands as a test for these principles and a test for American foreign policy, and that is the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine. I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May of this year. That basis is clear. It’s well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.
Now, I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. I assure you, so am I. But the question isn’t the goal that we seek — the question is how do we reach that goal. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians — not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.
Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied. That’s the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That’s the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is and will be the path to a Palestinian state — negotiations between the parties.
We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There’s no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state.
But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.
Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.
The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.
That is the truth — each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. That’s what we should be encouraging. That’s what we should be promoting.
This body — founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide, dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every single person — must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live lives of peace and security and dignity and opportunity. And we will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and each other’s fears. That is the project to which America is committed. There are no shortcuts. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.
Now, even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize — we must also remind ourselves — that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of humanity: nuclear weapons and poverty, ignorance and disease. These forces corrode the possibility of lasting peace and together we’re called upon to confront them.
To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we’ve begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers. Next March, a summit in Seoul will advance our efforts to lock down all of them. The New START Treaty between the United States and Russia will cut our deployed arsenals to the lowest level in half a century, and our nations are pursuing talks on how to achieve even deeper reductions. America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons and the production of fissile material needed to make them.
And so we have begun to move in the right direction. And the United States is committed to meeting our obligations. But even as we meet our obligations, we’ve strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. And to do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them.
The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful. It has not met its obligations and it rejects offers that would provide it with peaceful nuclear power. North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South. There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.
To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we’ve made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty. It’s an extraordinary achievement. And yet, three years ago, we were confronted with the worst financial crisis in eight decades. And that crisis proved a fact that has become clearer with each passing year — our fates are interconnected. In a global economy, nations will rise, or fall, together.
And today, we confront the challenges that have followed on the heels of that crisis. Around the world recovery is still fragile. Markets remain volatile. Too many people are out of work. Too many others are struggling just to get by. We acted together to avert a depression in 2009. We must take urgent and coordinated action once more. Here in the United States, I’ve announced a plan to put Americans back to work and jumpstart our economy, at the same time as I’m committed to substantially reducing our deficits over time.
We stand with our European allies as they reshape their institutions and address their own fiscal challenges. For other countries, leaders face a different challenge as they shift their economy towards more self-reliance, boosting domestic demand while slowing inflation. So we will work with emerging economies that have rebounded strongly, so that rising standards of living create new markets that promote global growth. That’s what our commitment to prosperity demands.
To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right. The United States has made it a focus of our engagement abroad to help people to feed themselves. And today, as drought and conflict have brought famine to the Horn of Africa, our conscience calls on us to act. Together, we must continue to provide assistance, and support organizations that can reach those in need. And together, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access so that we can save the lives of thousands of men and women and children. Our common humanity is at stake. Let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other. That is what our commitment to our fellow human beings demand.
To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger — whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease.
This week, America signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to affirm our commitment to meet this challenge. And today, I urge all nations to join us in meeting the HWO’s [sic] goal of making sure all nations have core capacities to address public health emergencies in place by 2012. That is what our commitment to the health of our people demands.
To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers our economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands.
And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the corruption that plagues the world like a cancer. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That’s why we’ve partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on open government that helps ensure accountability and helps to empower citizens. No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.
And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down the economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. This is what our commitment to human progress demands.
I know there’s no straight line to that progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations — to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families, and love and worship our God; to live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living.
It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn these lessons over and over again. Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this — to bind our fates together, to help us recognize ourselves in each other — because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war, and freedom is preferable to suppression, and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That’s the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens, from our people.
And when the cornerstone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, “The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man’s aspirations.” The moral nature of man’s aspirations. As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that’s a lesson that we must never forget.
Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not by our fears. Together, let us make peace, but a peace, most importantly, that will last.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Thank you. Thank you very much, President Travis. And it is, for me, a great personal pleasure to be in this new facility for John Jay. I had the opportunity to visit John Jay when it wasn’t quite as light-filled as this atrium is but knowing that it was always fulfilling its mission. And to come back here today to be with all of you is a singular honor.
I’m also very honored to be here with so many friends and colleagues, people who I had the great experience of working with over the last ten years as a senator, now as Secretary of State, people who made a real difference to this city, this state, the country, and indeed the world. And I think about our time together and the work that we did, and it fills me with great gratitude that I had such an opportunity to be just a small part of what so many of you have done in the days and years since 9/11.
I know that this is a time when we are meeting here in New York amid a looking-back as well as a looking-forward, and with the news last night of a specific credible, but unconfirmed, report that al-Qaida again is seeking to harm Americans and, in particular, to target New York and Washington. This should not surprise any of us. It is a continuing reminder of the stakes in our struggle against violent extremism no matter who propagates it, no matter where it comes from, no matter who its targets might be. We are taking this threat seriously. Federal, state, and local authorities are taking all steps to address it.
And of course, making it public, as was done yesterday, is intended to enlist the millions and millions of New Yorkers and Americans to be the eyes and the ears of vigilance. Of course, people should proceed with their lives and do what they would do ordinarily, but to be part of this great network of unity and support against those who would wreak violence and evil on innocent people.
I could not think of a better place to discuss this topic than here at John Jay. For decades you have trained many of New York’s leaders in law enforcement and public service, including many who are working right now around the clock to keep our cities safe and secure during this anniversary weekend. And as President Travis has reminded us, ten years ago, John Jay lost more students and alumni, many of them first responders, than any other educational institution in the country. And you became one of the few institutions to offer a master’s program in the study of terrorism. Because as John Jay has recognized, the way we understand the meaning of that terrible day, which brought out the best of humanity alongside the worst, will help determine how we meet the continuing challenge of terrorism, which remains an urgent question not only for the United States, but indeed for the world.
This memorial, which is fashioned from steel salvaged from the north tower will serve as a reminder here at John Jay of what this city and our country went through not only on 9/11 with the memories of the twisted girders and the shattered beams looming above the pile, not only the faces and images of firefighters and police officers and construction workers and volunteers who responded immediately and who stayed to dig through the rubble, but it will also remind us of the resilience of our city and our country and the fortitude that we have shown in picking ourselves up, going on with our lives, and dealing with the serious questions we face.
When I first visited Ground Zero on September 12th with Senator Schumer and Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki, the air was thick, and many of us wore masks that were meant to protect us who were only there for a matter of hours from what was in the air. But as I watched the firefighters emerging from the – behind the curtain of darkness, the soot that covered them, they weren’t wearing masks; they were focused on the job in front of them. When I returned a week later, the rescuers were still there. It was raining that day, but they hadn’t stopped. They stayed right there looking for their comrades, looking for the hundreds of others whom they never had known in life but would try to recover in death.
At a family assistance center on Pier 94, I began to meet with and work with families who were cradling photos of their missing loved ones. There are some wounds that never fully heal that we all live with for the rest of our lives, and there are those who have shown how strong they have been in the face of their pain and their loss and have moved forward to lead with new purpose to help build a better future.
There were not very many survivors, as you remember, but I tried to meet with them. I remember visiting one at St. Vincent’s who had been so profoundly injured by a part of the airplane falling on her. I remember going to the rehabilitation center up in Westchester where a number of the burn victims had been moved. I was very honored to work with these survivors, one of whom, Lauren Manning, has been very much front and center in my mind because of the book that she has just published, and her husband Greg, who is with us. Although she was badly burned, through fierce willpower and character, she fought her way back and reclaimed her life. And now she and Greg have two wonderful young sons. In her book, Lauren writes that we may all, in fact, we all will be touched by adversity as we go on our life’s journey, but we can refuse to be trapped by it.
And that is what emerged so powerfully on September 11th and all the days that followed – compassion, courage, and character as strong as one can imagine and even stronger than the steel that were in the towers. We learned something about what makes this city great and what makes this country exceptional.
New Yorkers worked hard to sustain that spirit. Sally Regenhard went to work to make sure that her son Christian would be remembered and that his death would lead to changes in the way that we build skyscrapers, and the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies is here at John Jay. Jay Winuk and David Paine, in memory of Jay’s brother, began My Good Deed. And now hundreds of thousands of Americans and people around the world are trying to channel their remembrance into positive acts on behalf of others. Dr. David Prezant and Dr. Kerry Kelly from the fire department immediately understood what was necessary to track the health of our firefighters and began to compile the most extraordinary record of what happened to those who were there every day and the price that they paid, even though they would not take back a second of what they did.
So we have some examples of those who have helped us make sense of what is almost beyond understanding. And New Yorkers worked hard to sustain that spirit as the days turned into months and then years. The young man who was my press secretary at the time, after going down to Ground Zero with me, going to meet family members, volunteered for the military. Thousands signed up for the fire and police departments, and we did come together to help those who grew sick as a result of their time at Ground Zero. And this week, a new medical study has documented the high rates of cancer among New York firefighters exposed there. So the work is not done. We still have heroes to honor, friends to care for, family to love. And there is also other unfinished business for us as a nation.
On that day, Americans pledged to do everything in our power to prevent another attack and to defeat the terrorists responsible. As a senator from New York, I stood with the 9/11 families who called for a commission to investigate the attacks and recommend reforms. Then we worked together to begin implementing them.
Ten years later, we have made important strides. Our government is better organized. Our defenses are safer than on 9/11. But we still face real threats, as we see today, and there is more work to be done. As the members of the 9/11 Commission recently reported, a number of their major recommendations remain unfulfilled. For example, much-needed radio frequencies have not yet been allotted to first responders to allow them to communicate effectively in a crisis – an issue that I worked on for years in the Senate and is long overdue for completion.
As President Obama has said over the last decade, our government also sometimes went off course, failed to live up to our own values, but we never lost sight of our mission, and we set aside those detours to stay focused, and we made progress. As we move forward, we are determined not to let the specter of terrorism darken the national character that has always been America’s greatest asset.
The United States has thrived as an open society, a principled nation, and a global leader. And we cannot and will not live in fear, sacrifice our values, or pull back from the world. Closing our borders, for example, might keep out some who would do us harm, but it would also deprive us entrepreneurs, ideas, and energy, things that help define who we are as a nation, and ensure our global leadership for years to come.
Before 9/11, the commission found that America did not adapt quickly enough to new and different kinds of threats, and it is imperative that we not make that mistake again. It is also imperative that we adapt just as quickly to new kinds of opportunities, that we not be paralyzed or preoccupied by the threats we face, that we not squander our strengths.
So we keep our focus not only on what we are fighting against – on the terrorist networks that attacked us that day and continue to threaten us – but also on what we are fighting for – for our values of tolerance and equality and opportunity, for universal rights and the rule of law, for the opportunity of children everywhere to live up to their God-given potential. That’s a fight we can be confident of and a mission we can be proud of. So today, after a decade of learning the lessons of 9/11, let’s take stock of where we stand and where we need to go as a nation.
We find ourselves in a moment of historic change and opportunity. The war in Iraq is winding down. The war in Afghanistan has entered a transition phase. Millions of people are pushing their nations to move away from repression that has long fueled resentment and extremism. They are embracing universal human rights and dignity. And this has discredited the extremist argument that only violence can bring about change. Against this backdrop, the death of Usama bin Ladin has put al-Qaida on the path to defeat. And as President Obama has pledged, we will not relent until that job is done.
Earlier this summer, the Administration released its National Strategy for Counterterrorism. It makes very clear we face both a short-term and a long-term challenge. First, to keep up the pressure on al-Qaida and its network. Second, to face down the murderous ideology that fueled bin Ladin’s rise and that continues to incite violence around the world. To meet these challenges, our methods must match this unique moment. And we need to apply hard-learned lessons.
We have seen that precise and persistent force can significantly degrade even an enemy as elusive as al-Qaida. So we will continue to go after its leaders and commanders, disrupt their operations and bring them to justice.
But we’ve also learned that to truly defeat a terror network, we need to attack its finances, recruitment, and safe havens. We need to take on its ideology, counter its propaganda, and diminish its appeal, so that every community recognizes the threat that extremists pose to them and they then deny them protection and support. And we need effective international partners in government and civil society who can extend this effort to all the places where terrorists operate.
To achieve these ends requires smart power, a strategy that integrates all our foreign policy tools – diplomacy and development hand-in-hand with defense – and that advances our values and the rule of law. We are waging a broad, sustained, and relentless campaign that harnesses every element of American power against terrorism. And even as we remain tightly focused on the terrorist network that attacked us 10 years ago, we’re also thinking about the next 10 years and beyond, about the next threats, about that long-term ideological challenge that requires us to dig deeply into and rely upon our most cherished values.
I want to speak briefly about these elements of our strategy. First, the operational side: You all know about the bin Ladin raid. It was 10 years in coming. It was a great tribute to the thousands of Americans and others around the world who worked with us. The United States has made great strides over the past decade in capturing or killing terrorists and disrupting cells and conspiracies. In line with the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, we’ve broken down bureaucratic walls so we can act on threats quickly and effectively. We’ve also taken steps to protect against new cyber dangers and to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. That remains the gravest threat facing our country and the world. I will not go through all of our actions on this front.
We have talked about the necessity of bringing the world together around a common cause of preventing the proliferation of nuclear material into the hands of extremists. And President Obama held the first-ever Nuclear Security Summit to try to enlist leaders from across the world for this common goal. As we pursue our campaign on these various fronts, we will always maintain our right to use force against groups such as al-Qaida that have attacked us and still threaten us with imminent violence. In doing so, we will stay true to our values and respect the rule of law, including international law principles guiding the use of force in self-defense, respect for the sovereignty of other states, and the laws of armed conflict.
When we capture al-Qaida members, we detain them humanely and consistent with international standards. And when we do strike, we seek to protect innocent civilians from harm. Terrorists, of course, do exactly the opposite. And just as we will not shy away from using military force as needed, we will also use the full range of law enforcement tools. Those who argued in the past that the fight against terrorism was a military matter and not appropriate for law enforcement posed a false choice. It is and it must be both. Look at the superb work that the New York Police Department has done to keep this city safe over the last 10 years and the work they are doing again today.
This also means putting terrorists on trial in civilian courts, which have time and again shown their effectiveness at convicting terrorists, including many right here in New York, without endangering our local population. And we will use, where appropriate, reformed military commissions, because a lawful system that makes use of both civilian courts and reformed military commissions sends an important message to the world that the rule of law plays an essential role in confronting terrorism, and that it works.
In fact, the AP just did a recent study that there have been 120,000 arrests around the world in the last 10 years of terrorists, and 35,000 convictions. Thanks to our military intelligence and law enforcement efforts over the last decade, al-Qaida’s leadership ranks have been devastated. Virtually every major affiliate has lost key operatives, including al-Qaida’s number two just this last month.
But we must be clear about the threat that remains. Cities such as London and Lahore, Madrid, and Mumbai have been attacked since 9/11. Recently, Abuja was added to this list. Thousands of innocent people, the majority of whom are Muslims, have been killed. And we know, as we have known for 10 years, that despite our best efforts, there is no such thing as perfect security. So while we have significantly weakened al-Qaida’s core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, today we are reminded they can still conduct regional and international attacks and inspire others to do so. And the threat has become more geographically diverse, with much of al-Qaida’s activity devolving to its affiliates around the world. I have long described al-Qaida as a syndicate of terror, not a monolith, and this is becoming truer every day.
For example, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is reaching far beyond its base in Yemen and seeking to carry out attacks like its attempts to bring down cargo and passenger planes bound for the United States. Other extremist groups in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan not only continue to protect al-Qaida’s remaining leadership; they are plotting attacks like the failed Times Square bombing. And from Somalia, al-Shabaab is looking to carry out more strikes like last July’s suicide bombings that killed 76 people in Uganda during the World Cup.
So even as we mark the progress we have achieved, which has been substantial since 9/11, we cannot afford to ignore these continuing dangers. We need to take a smart and strategic approach that recognizes that violent extremism is bound up with nearly all of today’s other complex global problems. It can take root in zones of crisis and poverty, flourish under repression and in the absence of the rule of law, spark hatreds among communities that have lived side by side for generations, and exploit conflict within and between states.
These are all challenges that we face in the 21st century, and they demand global cooperation and, first and foremost, American leadership. So just as counterterrorism cannot be the sole focus of our foreign policy, it does not make sense to view counterterrorism in a vacuum. It must be integrated into our broader diplomatic and development agendas. And we should appreciate that while working to resolve conflicts, reduce poverty, and improve governance, those are valuable ends in themselves, but they also advance the cause of counterterrorism and national security. That is why I have more fully integrated the State Department and USAID into the fight.
We have emphasized innovation. For example, we are now using sophisticated new biometric screening tools to improve border security and the visa process, including electronic fingerprints, facial recognition, and on an experimental basis even iris scans.
We have renewed our alliances and forged new counterterrorism partnerships. Together, we are using all the tools in our arsenal to go after the support structure of al-Qaida, including finances, ideology, recruits, and safe havens.
This is not easy, of course, and we are clear-eyed about how much we can accomplish and how fast. But we will not stop until we do everything possible to prevent recruits and illegal transactions. And we will certainly not solve all the problems of every failed state, nor should we try. But we can make it harder for al-Qaida to fill its ranks and its coffers while ramping up pressure from new and more effective partners.
Let’s look at finances, because we know illicit cash pays for terrorist training camps, propaganda, and operations. So cutting off the money is essential. It’s a step toward shutting down the network itself. That’s why the United States worked with scores of countries to put in place tough new legislation and help many of them disrupt illicit financial networks. Because of the successes that we’ve had in this area, terrorists are moving out of the formal financial system and increasingly funding their operations through criminal activity, especially kidnapping for ransom. Many of those ransoms have been paid by governments, which only encourages more kidnapping and undermines our counterterrorism efforts. So we are urging our partners around the world to embrace a no-concessions policy.
Even more than the money, what sustains al-Qaida and its affiliates is the steady flow of new recruits. They replace the terrorists we kill or capture, and they plan new attacks. Over the last 10 years, we’ve learned about how al-Qaida and its affiliates find these new members, about the process of radicalization, and the community dynamics that offer them support and protection. Slowing recruitment is a difficult task, but it begins by undermining extremist appeal. And it continues with highly targeted interventions in recruiting hot spots. That’s one reason why the Administration has worked from its first days in office to restore our standing in the world, to bring our policies in line with our principles. This is not about winning a popularity contest. It’s a simple fact that achieving our objectives is easier with more friends and fewer enemies.
One of the first things I did after arriving at the State Department was to appoint a special representative to Muslim communities around the world and to step up our engagement in the most crucial media spaces. We put our people – especially Arabic, Urdu, Dari speakers – on key channels like Al Jazeera and others to explain U.S. policies and counter at least some of the widespread misinformation out there. There was this idea that it was – it would be a waste of our time to go on channels and go onto websites to refute and rebut what was being said, but we’re in a fight, and I’m not going to let people say things about us that are not true. If they want to say things about us that are true, we’ll explain that. But to make up stuff, to be accusing us of things that are totally outlandish and outrageous, was just unacceptable. You’re the only way we will get into the conversation where it matters most, and we have to show up. I sometimes get asked by members of Congress: I saw an American diplomat on X, Y, or Z; why? It’s because that’s where people are. That’s where we need to be. I make no apologies for that.
It is with this in mind that we developed and launched the new Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, which is tightly focused on undermining the terrorist propaganda and dissuading potential recruits. The center is housed at the State Department, but is a true whole-of-government endeavor. It has a mandate from the President. And as part of this effort, a group of tech savvy specialists – fluent in Urdu and Arabic – that we call the digital outreach team are contesting online space, media websites and forums where extremists have long spread propaganda and recruited followers. With timely posts, often of independent news reports, this team is working to expose al-Qaida’s and extremists’ contradictions and abuses, including its continuing brutal attacks on Muslim civilians. This effort is still small, but it is now growing.
Take, for example, a short video clip that the team put together earlier this year. First, we hear a recording of al-Qaida’s new leader, Zawahiri, claiming that peaceful action will never bring about change in the Middle East. Then we see footage of protests and celebrations in Egypt. The team posted this video on popular websites and stirred up a flurry of responses. Like “Zawahiri has no business with Egypt; we will solve our problems ourselves,” wrote one commentator on the website Egypt Forum. Another on Facebook said those are people no one listens to anymore. Now, we won’t change every mind with these tactics, but we know from extremists in our own country that they are recruited by and influenced by websites. So we’re going to do everything we can to be in that fight for their minds and their hearts, and we are ratcheting up the pressure.
Now, this playbook is still being written. But the more we learn about al-Qaida’s structure and methods, the more we have homed in on a number of specific recruiting hotspots, not just online but particular neighborhoods, villages, prisons, and schools. We have found that recruits tend to come in clusters, influenced by family and social networks. By focusing on these hotspots in cooperation with our partners, we can begin to disrupt the recruiting chain.
There is no silver bullet, to be sure, but the United States, especially USAID, has long experience with development projects that actually improve people’s lives, create new economic opportunities, increase confidence in local communities. We have seen around the world, including in certain areas of Pakistan and Yemen, that this kind of work can begin diminishing the appeal of extremism.
This is a job that calls for a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. So we are pursuing micro-strategies that include credible local leaders and are driven by local needs and informed by local knowledge. For example, in the triangle between Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia where famine and conflict have opened the door to extremists, we are exploring a new partnership with the Kenya Muslim Youth Association. They will organize small learning circles around mainstream religious scholars, who will help provide counseling to young people who have been radicalized. This is a small project, one of many we’re doing, but it’s taking on a big challenge, and it’s a start, and we will keep learning and adapting and keep convincing others to join with us.
Civil society and the private sector have important roles to play. Groups such as Sisters Against Violent Extremism, a group of women in 17 countries around the world who have risked their lives to tell terrorists that they are not welcome in their communities. They have written newspaper articles in Yemen, held workshops for young people in Indonesia, brought Indian and Pakistani women together to show a united front. These women know they will not stop extremism everywhere, but they refuse to sit on the sidelines. Local authorities and civil society often are better positioned than we are to provide services to their people, disrupt plots, and prosecute extremists, and they often bear the brunt of terrorist attacks.
Especially as a threat from al-Qaida becomes more diffuse, it is in the interest of the United States to forge closer ties with the governments and communities on the front lines and to help them build up their counterterrorism capacity. We need to expand our efforts to build an international counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries’. So we have launched a diplomatic offensive to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation on counterterrorism. We have a broad and ambitious agenda, and to carry out this work, I am upgrading our office devoted to counterterrorism to a full-fledged bureau within the State Department.
Last year the State Department trained nearly 7,000 law enforcement and counterterrorism officials from more than 60 countries. Working with the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, we have supported capacity building in Yemen, Pakistan, and other frontline states. Indonesia offers a good example of how this kind of partnership can pay off. When Jakarta decided to form an elite counterterrorism unit, the State Department provided training and equipment. Experts from the FBI and the Department of Justice shared their experience with police and prosecutors.
Indonesia’s invigorated law enforcement effort has disrupted plots, tracked down, arrested, and in some cases, killed al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist leaders, including some of those responsible for the Bali bombing. And Indonesian prosecutors and courts have successfully tried and convicted hundreds of terrorists. We need to expand this cooperation worldwide. As the foreign minister of the UAE wrote yesterday, we need a comprehensive global mission to eradicate terrorism and violent extremism.
But until now, there’s been no dedicated international venue to regularly convene key counterterrorism policy makers and practitioners from around the world. So later this month, we will take another significant step forward by establishing a new global counterterrorism forum. We’re bringing together traditional allies, emerging powers, and Muslim-majority countries around a shared counterterrorism mission in a way that’s never been done before. Turkey and the United States will serve as founding co-chairs and we will be joined by nearly 30 other nations. Together, we will work to identify threats and weaknesses, devise solutions, mobilize resources, share expertise and best practices.
This will improve international coordination, but it will also help countries address terrorist threats within their own borders and regions. We will work to eliminate safe havens and identify the most effective messages to counter violence extremism. The forum will assist countries that are transitioning from authoritarian rule to democracy and the rule of law. It will provide support as they write new counterterrorism legislation and train police, prosecutors, and judges to apply the laws in keeping with universal human rights.
So as we deepen our bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism relationships, the United States has clear expectations for our partners. In some cases, by necessity, we are working with nations with whom we have very little in common except for our desire to defeat al-Qaida and terrorism. We make it a point to underscore our concerns about upholding universal rights. We demonstrate through our own example the effectiveness of doing so.
Unfortunately, some countries, even some friends, allow their territory to remain relatively permissive operating environments for terrorist financiers and facilitators. And yet some who undermine our work by fomenting anti-Western sentiment and exporting extremist ideologies to other Muslim communities even as they try to battle terrorists in their own country. Funding madrassas that preach violence and recruit terrorists, distributing textbooks that teach hate, will only accelerate the growth of extremism. This is like planting weeds in your garden and then acting surprised when they choke the flowers. It is counter-productive and ultimately self-defeating, and we will continue to argue against such practices in public and private. We will work with others to extend the success we have had in disrupting the financing of terrorism and will do all I can to try to make sure that more and more countries join this fight.
So all the efforts I have described – the pressure on al-Qaida’s leaders, the campaign to deny it funding, recruits, and safe havens, the diplomatic effort to build local capacity and international cooperation – they have put al-Qaida on the defensive. But as important – in fact, even more important, I would argue – has been the blow delivered by the people themselves of the Middle East and North Africa. People across the region are charting a different course than the one that bin Ladin claimed was the only way forward. There is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its hateful ideology. They are increasingly irrelevant in a region now more concerned with forming political parties than hearing another extremist rant.
It is true that the future is uncertain and it’s still possibly going to be exploited by extremists. Security forces are distracted and disorganized. Weapons are missing. We know from experience that democratic transitions can be hijacked by new autocrats or derailed by sectarians. How this moment plays out, and what happens in these transitions, will have profound consequences for our long-term struggle against violent extremism.
But we believe that democracies are better equipped than autocracies to stand up against terrorism for the long term. They offer constructive outlets for political grievances, they create opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity that are clear alternatives to violent extremism, and they tend to have, over time, more effective governing institutions. So it is very much in the interest of the United States to support the development of strong and stable democracies in the region. That is what we are doing, and we are trying to assist both the people and the transitional governments to create economic opportunity and embrace the rule of law.
And it is equally important that the United States continues to live up to our own best values and traditions. The people of these nations are looking at us with fresh eyes, and we need to make sure they see us as a source of opportunity and hope, as a partner, not an adversary.
So as we stand here on the brink of the anniversary of 9/11, we can remember how the world rallied around us in our very difficult time. And we can recall that many were long accustomed to distrusting us, but they reacted on a human level to such an unimaginable crime. We came together as a nation, with a sense of purpose and unity. There were no lines dividing us. We celebrated our diversity – including the many contributions of Muslim Americans – and we showed deep compassion that has always been at the core of the American character.
Today the world is watching us again and seeing whether we will summon up that spirit, that core American spirit, to meet the many challenges that face us here at home and around the world. I am honored to represent our country in every place on the globe. America is exceptional. We are exceptional for our creativity and our openness. We draw people from everywhere. We are exceptional for our unwavering commitment to secure a more just and peaceful world, for our willingness, especially when it matters most, to put the common good ahead of ideology, party, or personal interest.
American leadership is still revered and required. And when old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, the international community looks to us. When a famine threatens the lives of millions in East Africa or floods sweep across Pakistan, people look to America. They see what we sometimes miss amid all the noise coming out of Washington: America is and remains a beacon of freedom, a guarantor of global security, a true opportunity society, a place to excel, a country of possibility where ideas hatched in a college dorm room can grow into a multibillion dollar business.
The source of our greatness is more durable than many people seem to realize. Yes, our military is by far the strongest and our economy is by far the largest. Our workers are the most productive. Our universities, like this one, are the gold standard. Our values are solid. But we have real challenges, and we have to step up and deal with them. But there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to grow our economy, solve our problems, and renew our global leadership.
Ultimately, this doesn’t rest on the shoulders of a president or a secretary of state alone. It rests on the shoulders of the American people. We have to be ready to recapture that spirit of service and solidarity and to find the common ground that unites us as Americans. We have to be ready to recommit to the project of building our country together. I think we’re prepared to believe that we have no limits to what we can achieve if we do just that. I believe we’re ready.
But I also know that if we want to be the country that we believe in, that we find to be so attractive and aspirational, then we have to accept responsibility and we have to be ready, because more than the daring night raids or the successful prosecutions or the persistent diplomacy or the targeted development, what will keep us safe and keep us strong and keep us great is each of us signing on to be part of that American future.
Thank you all very much.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. I would like to thank you and the Members of the Commission for holding this important and timely hearing on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, and I appreciate this opportunity to testify.
Mr. Chairman, I ask that my full statement, and the written testimony, be made part of the record.
Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, the Government of Syria continues to carry out a pattern of gross human rights violations despite promises to stop. As Secretary Clinton said yesterday, from the U.S. perspective, President Assad “has lost legitimacy.” She said: “President Assad is not indispensible, and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power. Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.”
Let me begin with an overview of how the protest movement in Syria and the ensuing crackdown have evolved.
Large scale demonstrations started in mid-March in the southern town of Daraa, when security forces fired upon demonstrators calling for the release of children being held for weeks for writing political graffiti. That brutal act sparked the collective will of the Syrian people oppressed for decades. In response, average Syrians organized peaceful demonstrations on the streets of towns, villages, and cities throughout Syria which are now entering the fourth month.
President Assad and his regime responded to the Syrian people’s peaceful protests with gunfire, mass arrests, torture and abuse. Human rights organizations report that over 1,300 — and as many as 1,600 — Syrians have been killed, thousands jailed and the Syrian people are held hostage to a widening crackdown by security forces.
But the Syrian people have lost their fear. They are not backing down in the face of continued brutality. They are continuing to take to the streets to demand freedom, respect for their basic rights, and a transition to democracy.
Syrian military and security forces have besieged communities, cut off water, internet and telephone services, conducted mass arrests, targeted emergency medical responders, and shot peaceful protestors with impunity. As the Syrian government largely barred independent media from Syria, these crimes have been reported mainly though images and videos taken by brave demonstrators and smuggled out.
Last week, President Assad sacked the governor and ordered his troops and tanks to surround the central city of Hama, where at least 10,000 Syrians and perhaps many more perished at the hands of his father, Hafez Assad, in 1982. Despite the city’s tragic history, and despite provocations, the demonstrators in Hama have remained peaceful.
As you know, on July 7th and 8th Ambassador Ford visited the central city of Hama, where for six weeks demonstrators have been bravely protesting in a peaceful fashion to express their dissent. Ambassador Ford toured the city and reported seeing no protestors carrying weapons, nor damage to government buildings. There have been no attacks on government buildings, soldiers or government officials. However, the government has carried out sweeps and arrested dozens of peaceful demonstrators without judicial authority to do so and without due process. These roundups are contrary to the promises from President Assad that proper judicial procedures would be followed in dealing with the unrest.
Ambassador Ford traveled to Hama to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of the city, and our firm support for their right to assemble and express themselves peacefully. The lack of unfettered international media access in Syria has made the Ambassador’s personal observations particularly important to Washington policymakers.
While the Syrian government accused Ambassador Ford of “gross interference” in internal Syrian affairs, the Ambassador was greeted with flowers and cheers by city residents.
Yesterday, a mob began assaulting the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. They smashed windows, threw rocks, raised the Syrian flag, and scrawled graffiti calling Ambassador Ford “a dog.” The Marine guards and our regional security officers reacted quickly and prevent the attackers from breaking into compound buildings or injuring embassy personnel. The attackers then moved on to the French embassy, whose ambassador had also visited Hama. Some used a battering ram to storm that embassy. Syrian security forces did not intervene in a timely fashion to stop these attacks.
The United States strongly condemns this outrageous violation of diplomatic protocol and has demanded that Syria uphold international treaty obligations to protect foreign diplomatic missions.
We view these incidents as further evidence that President Assad’s government continues to be the real source of instability within Syria. He has promised reforms but delivered no meaningful changes. He talks about dialogue, but continues to engage in violence that proves his rhetoric hollow. Even as he talks about dialogue, his security forces started new arrest sweeps in the third largest city, Homs where there also have been months of protests. Assad has made clear that he is determined to maintain power regardless of the cost. And the human toll is mounting.
Amnesty International has reported killings and torture by security forces in the town of Tell Kalakh near the Lebanese border in May. Residents reported seeing scores of males including some elderly and under18 being rounded up. Detainees who were released and interviewed by Amnesty in Lebanon described brutal torture, including beatings, prolonged use of stress positions and the use of electric shock to the genitals. Relatives who were ordered to a military hospital to collect the corpses of eight detainees reported that the bodies bore the marks of torture.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 50 witnesses to the weeks of violence in Daraa, and reported that member of various branches of the mukhabarat security forces and snipers on rooftops deliberately targeted protestors and that victims had lethal head, neck and chest wounds. Among the deadliest incidents Human Rights Watch reported were an attack on protestors in al-Omari mosque from March 23-35, 25 demonstrators killed during two protests on April 8, and at least 34 people during a protest and funeral procession in the town of Izaraa on April 22 and 23.
There are also numerous reports of attacks on and killings of children. Perhaps the best known is the case of 13-year-old Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb, whose tortured and mutilated body was returned to his family by Syrian security forces after he was rounded up on April 29 in a village near Daraa.
THE U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Mr. Chairman, we denounce these horrific abuses in the strongest possible terms and call on the international community to do the same.
On May 19, President Obama said Assad could either lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. Hundreds of needless deaths later, it is now perfectly clear that a huge portion of the Syrian population perceives that Assad cannot or will not lead. If he has any respect for the people he purports to govern, he will stop his government’s lawless, violent behavior. The government must stop shooting demonstrators, allow peaceful protests, release political prisoners, stop unjust arrests, give access to human rights monitors, and start an inclusive dialogue to advance a democratic transition.
Instead, however, President Assad and his leadership have apparently chosen to emulate the repressive tactics of Iran, and have received material help from Iran in doing so. We have condemned this course of action in the strongest terms, and have imposed sanctions on those responsible for the violence.
The United States has repeatedly raised our concerns about human rights to Syrian officials. From the moment he arrived, Ambassador Ford began raising the significant number of cases of prisoners of conscience with President Assad when he presented his credentials and then constantly with the Syrian Office of the President. Several prominent human rights defenders have since been released. They include Haythem Maleh, an 80-year-old former judge who was imprisoned for charges of “spreading false news that could weaken the national morale” and Muhannad Hassani, a former president of the Syrian Human Rights Organization. However, we are deeply concerned about the treatment of the thousands of detainees who remain in custody.
Amb. Ford also repeatedly pressed Syrian officials to allow the opposition freedom to operate, highlighting for example, the importance of the June 27th meeting of the opposition, which was permitted to take place.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to note that Ambassador Ford’s steadfast commitment to human rights and his ability to press for change and report on developments like the situation in Hama underscores the value of having a U.S. Ambassador in the country, now more than ever.
U.S. GOVERNMENT SANCTIONSinternational community.”
President Assad’s future is the hands of the Syrian people. And the proper role for the United States and the international community is to support the Syrian people in their aspirations for political reform.
On May 18, President Obama signed an Executive Order imposing sanctions against President Assad and senior officials of the government responsible for human rights abuses. In addition to President Assad, the sanctions designated the Vice President, Prime Minister, ministers of interior and defense, the head of Syrian military intelligence, and director of the political security directorate. Other U.S. sanctions targets President Assad’s brother and two cousins, the Syrian military and civilian intelligence services, its national security bureau and the air force intelligence, as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force and senior Quds force officers.
These individuals and entities were selected because they bear direct responsibility for crimes against their own people. The European Union and other nations have enacted similar sanctions on these key regime figures to hold Syria’s leaders accountable for the violence.
In a Special Session in April, the UN Human Rights Council condemned the ongoing violations by the Syrian authorities. The Council called on Syrian authorities to release prisoners of conscience and those arbitrarily detained, and to end restrictions on Internet access and journalists. It also established an international investigation led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In the June Human Rights Council session, the United States joined Canada and more than 50 other countries in a forceful joint statement that again condemned violations committed by the Syrian authorities and called for credible, independent, and transparent investigations into these abuses, accountability for those who perpetrated such abuses, and unfettered access to the UN High Commissioner’s mission to investigate the many allegations of human rights abuses. The High Commissioner will present a report on the human rights situation in Syria in the September session. However, President Assad continues to refuse to allow the monitors mandated by the Human Rights Council to enter Syria.
The United States continues to work with our partners on possible U.N. Security Council action condemning the Assad regime.
Inspired by the protest movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, Syrian people are demanding their universal rights and rejecting a corrupt government that rules through fear. Syrian officials continue to complain about foreign influences. But as Secretary Clinton said yesterday, “They are clearly trying to deflect attention from their crackdown internally and to move the world’s view away from what they’re doing.”
It is true that some Syrian soldiers have been killed. We have reports of about 200 such deaths. We regret the loss of those lives too. But the vast majority of casualties have been unarmed civilians. By continuing to ban foreign journalists and observers, the regime seeks to hide these facts.
A Syria that is unified, pluralistic, and democratic could play a positive and leading role in the region, but under President Assad the country is increasingly becoming a source of instability. UNHCR and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) last week estimated there were about 30,000 internally displaced Syrians because of the ongoing unrest. Almost 12,000 Syrians fled the violence to Turkey in the end of June and over 8,500 still remain in six camps run by the Red Crescent.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made clear time and again that respect for human rights and pursuit of national security interests are not in conflict; to the contrary, they are best advanced in tandem. A strong and prosperous Syria, governed with the consent of all of its people, would be a positive influence on the stability of the region.
The Administration has been clear since the protests began that Syria is headed toward a new political order — and the Syrian people will shape it.
There are growing signs that civil society and opposition groups inside and outside Syria are becoming more organized. However, minority populations, including Christians, Druze and Kurds, have legitimate concerns that uncertainty and insecurity surrounding a fall of the Assad regime could endanger them. A peaceful democratic transition will require the participation of and respect for all of Syria’s ethnic and religious groups. We want to see a Syria that is unified and where tolerance and equality are the norm.
THE WAY FORWARD
The Syrian people have shown they will not cease their demands for dignity and a future free from intimidation and fear. The Syrian people deserve a government that respects its people, works to build a more stable and prosperous country, and doesn’t rely on repression at home and antagonism abroad to maintain its grip on power. They deserve a government that serves them.
That would be good for Syria, good for the region and good for the world.
In the meantime, the United States will continue to press for an immediate end to all violence and the beginning of a peaceful democratic process.
It is important for the United States that the Syrian people succeed in this endeavor, and we will support their efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous future.
وزارة الخارجية الأميركية
شهادة مايكل أيتش. بوزنر
مساعد وزيرة الخارجية لشؤون الديمقراطية، وحقوق الإنسان، والعمل
بيان أمام لجنة توم لانتوس لحقوق الإنسان في مجلس النواب
12 تموز/يوليو 2011
حقوق الإنسان في سورية
أسعدتم صباحاً، السيد الرئيس والأعضاء المحترمين في لجنة توم لانتوس لحقوق الإنسان. أود أن أشكركم وأشكر أعضاء اللجنة على عقد هذه الجلسة الهامة في وقتها المناسب حول وضع حقوق الإنسان في الجمهورية العربية السورية، وإنني أقدر هذه الفرصة للإدلاء بشهادتي.
السيد الرئيس، أطلب أن يُشكِّل بياني الكامل، وشهادتي المكتوبة، جزءاً من السجل.
السيد الرئيس، كما تدركون، فإن الحكومة السورية مستمرة في تنفيذ نمط من الانتهاكات الجسيمة لحقوق الإنسان على الرغم من الوعود بالتوقف عن ذلك. وكما صرحت وزيرة الخارجية هيلاري كلينتون أمس، من وجهة نظر الولايات المتحدة، “إن الرئيس الأسد قد فقد شرعيته.” وأضافت: “الرئيس الأسد ليس شخصاً لا يستغنى عنه، ولم تستثمر فيه أي شيء على الإطلاق لكي يبقى في السلطة. هدفنا هو أن نرى تحقق إرادة الشعب السوري للتغيير الديمقراطي.”
اسمحوا لي أن أبدأ بتقديم نظرة شاملة عن تطور حركة الاحتجاجات في سورية والإجراءات العميقة الصارمة التي أعقبت ذلك.
بدأت المظاهرات الواسعة النطاق في منتصف شهر آذار/مارس في بلدة درعا الجنوبية، عندما فتحت قوات الأمن النار على المتظاهرين المطالبين بالإفراج عن الأطفال المحتجزين منذ أسابيع بسبب قيامهم بكتابة شعارات سياسية على الجدران. وأثار هذا العمل الوحشي الإرادة الجماعية للشعب السوري المضطهد منذ عقود. رداً على ذلك، نظم السوريون العاديون مظاهرات سلمية في شوارع البلدات، والقرى، والمدن في مختلف أنحاء سورية، وقد دخلت هذه المظاهرات الآن شهرها الرابع.
وردّ الرئيس الأسد ونظامه على احتجاجات الشعب السوري السلمي بإطلاق النار، والاعتقالات الجماعية، والتعذيب، وإساءة المعاملة. وقد ذكرت تقارير منظمات حقوق الإنسان أن ما يزيد على 1300 – وحتى ما يصل إلى 1600 – سوري قد قتلوا، وأن الآلاف قد سجنوا، وأن الشعب السوري هو الآن رهينة في سياق حملة الإجراءات الصارمة المتوسعة التي تقوم بها قوات الأمن.
لكن الشعب السوري لم يعد خائفاً، ولم يتراجع في وجه الوحشية المستمرة. فهم مستمرون في النزول إلى الشوارع للمطالبة بالحرية، واحترام حقوقهم الأساسية، والتغيير الديمقراطي.
وقد قام أفراد الجيش السوري وقوات الأمن بمحاصرة المجتمعات الأهلية، وقطع المياه، وخدمات الإنترنت والهاتف، وتنفيذ اعتقالات جماعية، واستهدف المسعفين الطبيين للحالات الطارئة، وقتل المتظاهرين المسالمين وتمكنوا من الإفلات من العقاب. ونظراً لأن الحكومة السورية منعت إلى حدٍ كبير وسائل الإعلام المستقلة من الدخول إلى سوريا، فقد تمّ الإبلاغ عن هذه الجرائم، وبصورة رئيسية عبر الصور وأشرطة الفيديو التي صورها المتظاهرون الشجعان وهربّوها إلى الخارج.
في الأسبوع الماضي، أقال الرئيس الأسد محافظ مدينة حماة وأمر قواته والدبابات بتطويق وسط المدينة، حيث قُتل ما لا يقل عن 10,000 سوري، وربما أكثر بكثير، على يد والده حافظ الأسد في عام 1982. وعلى الرغم من تاريخ المدينة المأساوي، وعلى الرغم من الاستفزازات، بقيت المظاهرات في مدينة حماة سلمية.
كما تعلمون، زار السفير فورد في 7 و8 تموز/يوليو وسط مدينة حماة، حيث احتج المتظاهرون سلمياً بشجاعة لستة أسابيع للتعبير عن معارضتهم. جال السفير فورد في المدينة وذكرت التقارير انه لم يشاهد أي متظاهرين يحملون أسلحة أو أضرار لحقت بالمباني الحكومية. لم تكن هناك أي هجمات على المباني الحكومية أو الجنود، أو المسؤولين الحكوميين. ومع ذلك، قامت الحكومة بعمليات تمشيط واعتقلت العشرات من المتظاهرين المسالمين دون إذن قضائي للقيام بذلك، ودون اتباع الإجراءات القانونية الواجبة. تتعارض عمليات الاعتقال هذه مع وعود الرئيس بشار الأسد في أن يتبع الإجراءات القضائية السليمة في التعامل مع الاضطرابات.
لقد سافر السفير فورد إلى حماة لإظهار تضامننا مع شعب المدينة، ودعمنا الثابت لحقهم في التجمع والتعبير عن أنفسهم بشكل سلمي. وكان غياب وجود وسائل الإعلام الدولية في سورية قد جعل مشاهدات السفير الشخصية مهمة بشكل خاص لصنّاع القرار في واشنطن.
في حين أن الحكومة السورية اتهمت السفير فورد بما سمته “تدخلاً سافراً” في الشؤون الداخلية السورية، استقبل سكان المدينة السفير بالورود والهتافات.
أمس، بدأت زمرة من الرعاع بالاعتداء على السفارة الأميركية في دمشق. حطموا النوافذ، وقذفوا الحجارة، ورفعوا العلم السوري، وكتبوا على الجدران كتابات تدعو السفير فورد “بالكلب”. فما كان من حراس قوات مشاة البحرية وضباط الأمن الإقليمي في سفارتنا إلا أن تحركوا بسرعة ومنعوا المهاجمين من اقتحام حرم السفارة أو إصابة موظفي السفارة. ثم انتقل المهاجمون إلى السفارة الفرنسية، التي كان سفيرها قد زار حماة أيضاً. استخدم بعضهم مدماك معدني ثقيل لاقتحام السفارة. أما قوات الأمن السورية فلم تتدخل في الوقت المناسب لوقف هذه الهجمات.
الولايات المتحدة تدين بشدة هذا الانتهاك الفاضح للبروتوكول الدبلوماسي وتطالب سوريا الالتزام بواجباتها بموجب المعاهدات الدولية لحماية البعثات الدبلوماسية الأجنبية.
ونحن نرى في هذه الحوادث دليلاً إضافياً على أن حكومة الرئيس الأسد لا تزال المصدر الحقيقي لعدم الاستقرار داخل سورية. وقد وعد بالإصلاحات، ولكن ذلك لم يقدم أية تغييرات ذات معنى. وهو يتكلم عن الحوار، ولكنه لا يزال يرتكب أعمال عنف تثبت خطابه الأجوف. حتى وهو يتحدث عن الحوار، بدأت قوات الأمن التابعة له بحملة اعتقالات جديدة في حمص ثالث أكبر مدينة في سوريا حيث تشهد احتجاجات ومظاهرات منذ عدة أشهر. من الواضح أن الأسد مصرّ على التمسك بالسلطة بغض النظر عن التكلفة. أما الخسائر البشرية فإنها تستمر في الارتفاع.
أفادت تقارير منظمة العفو الدولية عن عمليات قتل وتعذيب على أيدي قوات الأمن في بلدة تل كلخ قرب الحدود اللبنانية في أيار/مايو الماضي. وذكر السكان أنهم شاهدوا اعتقال العشرات من الرجال، بمن فيهم بعض كبار السن وشبان تحت سن 18. ووصف المعتقلون الذين أُطلق سراحهم والذين قابلتهم منظمة العفو الدولية في لبنان التعذيب الوحشي، بما في ذلك الضرب والإبقاء لفترة طويلة في أوضاع مؤلمة، واستخدام الصدمات الكهربائية على الأعضاء التناسلية. أفاد الأقارب الذين أُمروا بالذهاب إلى مستشفى عسكري لاستلام جثث ثمانية معتقلين أن أجساد هؤلاء كانت تحمل علامات التعذيب.
أجرت منظمة هيومن رايتس ووتش مقابلات مع 50 شاهد عيان لأسابيع من العنف في درعا، وأفادت أن عناصر من مختلف فروع قوات الأمن والمخابرات والقناصة انتشروا على أسطح المنازل واستهدفوا المتظاهرين عمداً وأن الضحايا تعرضوا لإصابات قاتلة في الرأس والعنق والصدر. وأفادت المنظمة ان من بين الحوادث الأكثر دموية كان الهجوم على المعتصمين في المسجد العمري من 23 آذار/مارس، حيث قتل 35 و25 متظاهراً خلال مظاهرتين في 8 نيسان/أبريل، وقتل أيضاً ما لا يقل عن 34 شخصاً خلال احتجاج وجنازة في بلدة إزرع في 22 و23 نيسان/ابريل.
هناك أيضاً العديد من التقارير عن هجمات وأعمال قتل أطفال. ولعل أشهرها مقتل حمزة علي الخطيب ابن ال 13 عاماً، الذي تعرض للتعذيب وتشويه جثته والذي أعيد إلى عائلته من قبل قوات الأمن السورية بعد اعتقاله في 29 نيسان/أبريل في قرية بالقرب من درعا.
رد الحكومة الأميركية
السيد الرئيس، نحن نستنكر هذه الانتهاكات المروعة بأقوى العبارات الممكنة، وندعو المجتمع الدولي إلى أن يحذو حذونا.
في 19 أيار/مايو، قال الرئيس أوباما إن بامكان الأسد إما أن يقود الانتقال الديمقراطي أو يبتعد عن طريق هذا الانتقال. وبعد مئات الوفيات غير الضرورية التي حدثت لاحقاً، أصبح من الواضح جداً الآن أن جزءاً كبيراً من الشعب السوري يدرك أن الأسد لا يستطيع أن يقود هذا الانتقال او أنه لا يريد ذلك. فإذا كان لديه أي احترام للشعب الذي يعتبر نفسه حاكماً له، فإنه يجب ان يوقف أعمال حكومته الخارجة عن القانون، وسلوكها العنيف. يجب على الحكومة وقف إطلاق النار على المتظاهرين، والسماح بالمظاهرات السلمية، وإطلاق سراح السجناء السياسيين، ووقف الاعتقالات الظالمة، والسماح بدخول مراقبي حقوق الإنسان، والبدء بحوار شامل لدفع عجلة الانتقال الديمقراطي.
بدلاً من ذلك، فقد اختار الرئيس الأسد وقيادته على ما يبدو، اتباع الأساليب القمعية لإيران، وقد تلقوا مساعدة مادية من إيران للقيام بذلك. ولقد قمنا بإدانة هذا العمل بأشد العبارات، وفرضنا عقوبات على المسؤولين عن العنف.
لقد أثارت الولايات المتحدة مراراً قلقنا بشأن حقوق الإنسان لدى المسؤولين السوريين. ومن لحظة وصوله إلى سوريا، بدأ السفير فورد بحث العدد الكبير من قضايا سجناء الرأي مع الرئيس الأسد، وذلك عندما قدم أوراق اعتماده ومن ثم واصل ذلك مع مكتب الرئيس السوري. ومنذ ذلك الحين أطلق سراح عدد من المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان البارزين، منهم هيثم المالح البالغ 80 عاماً وهو قاضٍ سابق سُجن بتهمة “نشر أنباء كاذبة من شأنها أن تضعف المعنويات الوطنية”، ومهند الحساني، وهو الرئيس السابق لمنظمة حقوق الإنسان السورية. ومع ذلك، فإننا نشعر بقلق بالغ إزاء معاملة آلاف من المعتقلين الذين ما زالوا رهن الاحتجاز.
وضغط السفير فورد أيضاً مراراً على المسؤولين السوريين للسماح للمعارضة بالعمل بحرية، ملقياً الضوء، مثلاً، على أهمية اجتماع المعارضة في 27 حزيران/يونيو، والذي تم السماح له بالانعقاد.
السيد الرئيس، أود أن أشير إلى أن الالتزام الثابت للسفير فورد بحقوق الإنسان وقدرته على الضغط من أجل التغيير والإبلاغ عن التطورات مثل الوضع في حماة، يؤكد على قيمة وجود السفير الأميركي في هذا البلد، والآن أكثر من أي وقت مضى.
عقوبات الحكومة الأميركية وحكومات المجتمع الدولي
مستقبل الرئيس الأسد هو بين أيدي الشعب السوري. والدور الصحيح للولايات المتحدة والمجتمع الدولي هو دعم الشعب السوري في تطلعاته للإصلاح السياسي.
في 18 أيار/مايو، وقّع الرئيس أوباما أمراً تنفيذياً بفرض عقوبات ضد الرئيس بشار الأسد وكبار موظفي الحكومة المسؤولين عن انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان. بالإضافة إلى الرئيس الأسد، حددت العقوبات نائب الرئيس، ورئيس الوزراء، ووزيري الداخلية والدفاع، ورئيس الاستخبارات العسكرية السورية، ومدير الأمن السياسي. وهناك عقوبات أميركية أخرى تستهدف شقيق الرئيس الأسد واثنين من أبناء عمه، وأجهزة الاستخبارات السورية العسكرية والمدنية، ومكتب الأمن الوطني، واستخبارات سلاح الجو، علاوة على ضباط الحرس الثوري الإيراني، وفيلق القدس، وكبار ضباط قوات القدس.
وقد تمّ اختيار هؤلاء الأفراد والكيانات لأنهم يتحملون المسؤولية المباشرة عن جرائم ضد شعبهم. وقد أقرّ الاتحاد الأوروبي ودول أخرى فرض عقوبات مماثلة على موظفي النظام الكبار هؤلاء لإخضاع قادة سوريا للمساءلة حول العنف.
في دورة استثنائية في نيسان/أبريل، أدان مجلس حقوق الإنسان الانتهاكات المستمرة للسلطات السورية. ودعا المجلس السلطات السورية لإطلاق سراح سجناء الرأي والمعتقلين تعسفاً، وإنهاء القيود المفروضة على الدخول إلى شبكة الإنترنت وعلى الصحافيين. وبدأ المجلس أيضاً تحقيقاً دولياً بقيادة مكتب المفوض السامي لحقوق الإنسان. وفي جلسة مجلس حقوق الإنسان في حزيران/يونيو، انضمت الولايات المتحدة إلى كندا وأكثر من 50 دولة أخرى لإصدار بيان مشترك يدين بقوة الانتهاكات التي ارتكبت مرة أخرى على يد السلطات السورية، ودعت إلى إجراء تحقيقات موثوقة، ومستقلة، وشفافة في هذه الانتهاكات، ومساءلة الذين ارتكبوا مثل هذه الانتهاكات، والسماح بالوصول غير المقيد لبعثة مكتب المفوضية السامية لحقوق الإنسان للتحقيق في مزاعم العديد من انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان. وسوف يقدم المفوض السامي تقريراً عن وضع حقوق الإنسان في سورية في دورة أيلول/سبتمبر. ومع ذلك ، فإن الرئيس الأسد لا يزال يرفض السماح للمراقبين المكلفين من جانب مجلس حقوق الإنسان بالدخول إلى سورية.
تواصل الولايات المتحدة العمل مع شركائنا بشأن قرار محتمل من جانب مجلس الأمن يدين نظام الأسد.
باستيحاء الحركات الاحتجاجية في تونس، ومصر، وليبيا وغيرها من الأماكن، يطالب الشعب السوري بحقوقه الأساسية ويرفض الحكومة الفاسدة التي تحكم من خلال الترهيب. لا يزال المسؤولون السوريون يشكون من التأثيرات الخارجية. ولكن، كما قالت وزيرة الخارجية كلينتون أمس، “انهم يحاولون بوضوح صرف الانتباه عن الإجراءات القمعية الصارمة الداخلية وتحويل أنظار العالم عما يفعلونه.”
صحيح أن بعض الجنود السوريين قد قتلوا. ولدينا تقارير تفيد عن 200 حالة وفاة من هذا القبيل. اننا نأسف لخسارة هذه الأرواح أيضاً. ولكن الغالبية العظمى من الضحايا كانت من المدنيين العزل. من خلال الاستمرار في منع الصحفيين والمراقبين الأجانب، فإن النظام يسعى إلى إخفاء هذه الحقائق.
ويمكن لسورية الموحدة، التعددية، الديمقراطية أن تلعب دوراً إيجابياً ورائداً في المنطقة، ولكن في ظل الرئيس الأسد في البلاد فإنها تبقى مصدراً لعدم الاستقرار على نحو متزايد. وقد قدر مكتب المفوضية السامية لشؤون اللاجئين التابع لمنظمة الأمم المتحدة (UNHCR) والهلال الأحمر العربي السوري الأسبوع الماضي ان هناك نحو 30 ألف سورياً مشرداً داخل البلاد بسبب الاضطرابات المستمرة. كما فر حوالي 12 ألف سوري من العنف إلى تركيا في نهاية شهر حزيران/يونيو وأكثر من 8500 سوري لا يزالون مقيمين في ستة مخيمات تديرها جمعية الهلال الأحمر.
أوضح الرئيس أوباما والوزيرة كلينتون مرة أخرى أن احترام حقوق الإنسان والسعي لتحقيق مصالح الأمن القومي لا يتعارضان، بل على العكس من ذلك، فأفضل طريقة لتقدمهما هي تلازمهما. ومن شأن سورية القوية والمزدهرة التي تُحكم بموافقة جميع أفراد شعبها، ان تؤثر إيجاباً على الاستقرار في المنطقة.
كانت الحكومة الأميركية واضحة منذ بدء الاحتجاجات بأن سورية تتقدم نحو نظام سياسي جديد – والشعب السوري هو الذي سيشكله.
هناك دلائل متزايدة على أن المجتمع المدني ومجموعات المعارضة داخل سوريا وخارجها أصبحت أكثر تنظيما. ومع ذلك، فإن الأقليات، بما في ذلك المسيحيين والدروز والأكراد، لديهم مخاوف مشروعة من أن عدم اليقين وانعدام الأمن المحيط بسقوط نظام الأسد قد يعرضهم للخطر. إن الانتقال السلمي الديمقراطي يتطلب المشاركة والاحترام لجميع المجموعات العرقية والدينية في سوريا. نريد أن نرى سورية الموحدة، حيث التسامح والمساواة هما القاعدة.
الطريق إلى الأمام
أظهر الشعب السوري انه لن يتوقف عن مطالبته بالكرامة وبمستقبل خالٍ من الترهيب والخوف. والشعب السوري يستحق حكومة تحترم شعبها، وتعمل على بناء بلد أكثر استقراراً وازدهاراً، ولا تعتمد على القمع في الداخل والعداء في الخارج للحفاظ على سيطرتها على السلطة. انهم يستحقون الحكومة التي تخدمهم.
وهذا سيكون جيداً لسوريا، وجيداً للمنطقة، وجيداً للعالم.
في غضون ذلك، فإن الولايات المتحدة ستواصل الضغط من اجل وقف فوري لكل أشكال العنف وبدء عملية ديمقراطية سلمية.
من المهم بالنسبة للولايات المتحدة أن ينجح الشعب السوري في هذا المسعى، وسندعم الجهود الرامية إلى بناء مستقبل سلمي ومزدهر.
وزارة الخارجية الأميركية
مايكل بوزنر، سورية، حقوق الإنسان، الإصلاح الديمقراطي، حماة.
شهادة مساعد وزيرة الخارجية بوزنر حول حقوق الإنسان في سورية أمام لجنة حقوق الإنسان في مجلس النواب.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. And it is, as always, a delight to welcome High Representative Ashton back to the State Department for the continuing consultations that we have been engaged in ever since her appointment. I always look forward to these meetings and working closely with her and her team on the full range of shared challenges that confront the United States and the European Union. I think it goes without saying that this is such a consequential partnership that is rooted in our common values and aspirations as well as serving as a cornerstone for global peace and prosperity and security. Today, once again, we covered a lot of ground. Let me just touch on a few of the issues.
First, Lady Ashton and I discussed events in Syria. The United States strongly condemns Syria’s failure to protect diplomatic facilities in Damascus, including the American and French embassies and our ambassador’s residence. As we have expressed directly to the Syrian Government today, we demand that they meet their international responsibilities immediately to protect all diplomats and the property of all countries. The Asad regime will not succeed in deflecting the world’s attention from the real story unfolding in Syria. This is not about America or France or any other country; this is about the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for dignity, universal rights, and the rule of law.
Despite promising dialogue and promises of change, the Syrian Government has responded to the people’s peaceful protests with more violence, more arrests, and more intimidation. These assaults must stop. Neither the Syrian people nor the international community will accept half-measures or lofty speeches. We call on the regime immediately to halt its campaign of violence, pull its security forces back from Hama and other cities, and allow the Syrian people to express their opinions freely so that a genuine transition to democracy can take place.
Let me also add that if anyone, including President Asad, thinks that the United States is secretly hoping the regime will emerge from this turmoil to continue its brutality and repression, they are wrong. President Asad is not indispensible, and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power. Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.
Let me turn now to Libya, which again, Lady Ashton and I discussed in preparation for the upcoming Contact Group meeting in Istanbul. We will be joined there by a growing number of international partners reflecting deep and widespread concern about the safety of Libyan civilians and the clear need for Colonel Qadhafi to leave power. As momentum continues to build in Libya, the people are not waiting to plan their new post-Qadhafi future. They are laying the foundation, organizing the institutions, and preparing the infrastructure, and the international community will support these efforts. So the United States welcomes the EU’s announcement that it is opening an office in Benghazi. Together, we will work with the UN and other partners to coordinate post-conflict assistance and help a free Libya emerge from the dictator’s shadow.
We also discussed our shared commitment to support the democratic transitions underway in Egypt and Tunisia. As I said at the Community of Democracies in Lithuania, established democracies have a responsibility to help those emerging find their footing. So we are working together to help Egyptians and Tunisians begin the slow, hard work of building sustainable democracies rooted in guaranteed human rights, accountable institutions, and the rule of law.
And finally, although we talked about many other issues, let me just mention our shared desire to support the countries of the Western Balkans as they continue to build prosperous, peaceful, and democratic societies and move toward their rightful places as full members of the European and Euro-Atlantic community. The recent agreements between Kosovo and Serbia in the EU-facilitated dialogue are a positive and mutually beneficial step. But this is only the beginning. Now the agreements need to be implemented, and we need to see more progress, particularly in the north of Kosovo. We expect both sides to continue their hard work and come to practical agreements to improve the daily lives of all people, normalize relations, and bring both countries closer to achieving their EU aspirations.
So as you can see, we had, as we always do, a lot to talk about, and of all these critical challenges, it is especially gratifying that the United States and the European Union are working hand in hand. And so again, let me thank the high representative, my friend and colleague, for her partnership and for the work that we will be doing in the future.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Thank you very much, and it’s a great pleasure, as always, to be back in Washington and with Secretary Clinton, though the heat here is rather like Juba was on Saturday. (Laughter.)
I just wanted to say to the American press as well that there was an enormous cheer from the crowds in Juba when they heard of the support from the United States when Ambassador Rice spoke, and it was a great moment. And there was a good cheer too when I spoke up for the European Union.
And as the Secretary says, we talked about a range of different topics, and I begin by endorsing what Hillary said about what’s happening in terms of the embassies of the United States and France in Syria. This is very alarming. We see the dialogue beginning; we don’t see the opposition included effectively by President Asad. It is really important that he takes note, again, of what we’ve called for consistently, which is the end to violence. And we continue to use our political and economic power to try and get him to turn away from what is a terrible situation.
We’ve been talking, as indeed I’m sure Secretary Clinton has, with Turkey about the refugees who are coming across the border. And I’ve had teams going to talk to them about the situation they find themselves in, and it’s very grave indeed. The stories that they tell us really do reflect the information that you will be– have been receiving as well.
And of course, on to Libya: We have an office in Benghazi. I was very proud to see a European Union flag flying over Freedom Square and to go to officially open the office in Benghazi. The purpose of that is an opportunity to channel our support to the people, through the Transitional National Council, and through civil society to be able to support them on security management, which is a huge issue, and also to build the institutions that they will need. A young man I met who had spent eight years in prison under Colonel Qadhafi said, “What we want is very simple. We want what you have – the everyday life of democracy.” And that’s something that we’ll work together on to make sure that in the post-Qadhafi world, with our colleagues under UN leadership, but with the Africa Union, the Arab League, with the OIC, with many others, that we continue to get ready for the post-Qadhafi world of Libya, which will be, we know, significantly better for the people there.
As the Secretary says, there are so many other countries where we’re engaged together, and we think particularly, of course, of Egypt and Tunisia. I have appointed an EU special representative to look at the area of North Africa and to support the people by bringing together the European Union institutions and member-states, especially with the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, provide additional resources. We’ve been able to find about 5 to 7 billion euros additionally, which will help to support infrastructure, public and private sector engagement, and help, for example, with housing projects in Egypt and with road infrastructure in Tunisia. These are important economic matters because they need to go side by side with the push and support for democracy and the moves to support the democratic growth in all of the countries concerned.
And then finally, again, as the Secretary said, to think about the other part of our neighborhood, the Balkans, and especially the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue. Prime Minister Thaci from Kosovo and I had lunch last week, and we talked about the potential of what we’re trying to do with the discussions, which is really to make life easier in practical ways for the people in the north of Kosovo. So it’s engaged with issues like driving license plates, ways in which we can help the movement of people between the two, and to find ways, too, to build the trust so that we can move forward with them into the future, which for both lies in the European Union.
So thank you again for the time we spent together. We meet all over the world, but we’ll meet after this trip again in Istanbul on Friday. But this is an incredibly important partnership.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: We have time for two questions, (inaudible) ask two questions from the European side. The first question is from CNN, Elise Labott, (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, on Syria, do you believe that the government is inciting this activity at the Embassy and kind of masterminding it? Because – and if they’re not protecting it, that would be extremely concerning.
And I just want to follow up on your comments about how, if he thinks that the U.S. is secretly hoping he’ll emerge, they’re mistaken and that’s he not indispensible. You’ve been saying over the last several months even that that window is narrowly closing. It sounds as if you’re pretty close– if not already there, that you’ve given up any hope of him turning it around. And maybe you’re not ready to say that magic phrase, but it certainly seems that that’s how you feel. If you could expand on that.
And then for both of you on this Quartet meeting today, I was wondering what you think given the situation, the Palestinians saying that they’re going to declare in September, neither one of them willing to accept the President’s markers on a state within the ’67 – some of those conditions he laid out. What do you possibly think that the Quartet could come up with tonight that could really change the situation on the ground and avoid a disaster in September?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Elise, first of all, with respect to Syria, here’s what we know. What we know is that mobs have attacked our Embassy and the French Embassy on successive days now for the last several days. Mobs have attacked the residence where our ambassador lives. And we know that the concerns we’ve expressed to the Syrian Government that they are not taking adequate steps to protect our diplomats and our property have yet to engender the kind of response we would expect to see.
And by either allowing or inciting this kind of behavior by these mobs against Americans and French diplomats and their property, they are clearly trying to deflect attention from their crackdown internally and to move the world’s view away from what they’re doing and to create some kind of ongoing conflict between Syrians and people like our diplomats. And it just doesn’t work. We expect them to protect our diplomats. We expect them to protect our embassies and our residences. And we don’t think that they are doing enough to evidence a willingness to follow through on their international responsibilities.
So we’ve made it abundantly clear that we — what we expect. We’ve also made clear that we are investigating reports about how this — these incidents have occurred and who was behind them. And we are not going to be satisfied until the Syrians protect our people, and I’m sure the French feel exactly the same way.
With respect to the Quartet, as you know, we are meeting this evening. And I don’t think either High Representative or I have anything specifically to say at this point, because obviously we want to hold the meeting and discuss in depth with our colleagues the way forward.
QUESTION: The question about President Asad and –
SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, look – I mean, from our perspective, he has lost legitimacy, he has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made, he has sought and accepted aid from the Iranians as to how to repress his own people, and there’s a laundry list of actions that have been certainly concerning and should raise issue with not only his behavior but those who are supporting him in the international community. And we would like to see even more countries speaking out as forcefully as we have.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Just on the Quartet, just to agree with Hillary. We meet tonight against a backdrop of wanting to try and see progress between the Palestinians and the Israelis in terms of talks. And we’ll see where we get to this evening.
MS. NULAND: The next question is (inaudible).
QUESTION: Good afternoon. You just mentioned President Asad. Can we go into that again, please? Secretary Clinton, you said you want Muammar Qadhafi to leave power. Is either of you willing to replace the name Qadhafi, though, with the name Asad, saying – are you – do you want to see President Asad to leave power? And what is the difference between those two leaders and those two countries in your eyes right now?
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Well, we have to start from the principle that every country is different, so let’s not try and make all these situations that we’re confronting feel the same, because they’re not. Secondly, I don’t think we should find ourselves consistently looking at each and finding the right solution to be the same as it was for another country.
As far as I’m concerned, what we’re deeply worried about is the level of violence in Syria and the challenges for the people in terms of being able to see their requirements met, their requests met for dialogue. And we urge Asad to do what he has said, which is to host this dialogue properly. It started – a lot of people are not there who should be there, and we’ve yet to see him move forward on that.
And that’s the position that in the European Union we hold to. We really do want to see people being able to have their voices heard, the violence to end, and this chaos to stop, and then the people will be able to make their own decisions about how they go forward.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I have nothing to add to what Cathy has said. I think that it is a mistake, albeit a very tempting one, to equate countries one to the other and assume that there is one template that fits all. That’s obviously not the case, and there are significant differences in the situation in Syria from Libya.
What is comparable is a leader who has not fulfilled the promises that have repeatedly been made over his term in office that there would be economic and political reform that would provide greater opportunities to the Syrian people. And we remain committed to supporting the will of the Syrian people to have a better future for themselves, have more transparency in their interactions with their own government, to have a say in the future of their own country, to have an economic system that responds to their personal effort, and all the other values that we in the United States and the EU think are reflective of universal rights.
QUESTION: Hi. Madam Secretary, if I may ask you on the state of relations with Pakistan and the decision to suspend some $800 million in aid, what do you say to those who suggest that that may, in fact, be counterproductive to rebuilding relations with Pakistan following the bin Ladin raid?
And if I may, Madam Secretary, I’d like to get your thoughts on the passing of one of your predecessors, former First Lady Betty Ford. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the first, with Pakistan, our relationship with Pakistan is not always easy, but it’s one that we do consider vital to our national security and to our regional interests. We recognize – and you’ve heard me say this many times – that Pakistan is a valuable ally in the fight against terrorism and it has suffered tremendous civilian and military losses in taking on those extremist elements who are threatening the Pakistani people and the Pakistani state.
That said, the Government of Pakistan must take certain steps, and we have outlined those steps on more than one occasion, to ensure that we can deliver all the military assistance that the United States has discussed with Pakistan. So our decision to pause delivery on this portion of security assistance does not signify a shift in policy but underscores the fact that our partnership depends on cooperation. That’s always been the case and it must continue to be so in the future.
We remain committed to helping Pakistan build and improve its capabilities and continue our conversations with Pakistani officials as to what our financial support entails, because we’ve always had certain expectations that have to be met. And I would add that this is primarily – or exclusively a pause in military assistance, because our civilian assistance has not been affected and we continue to work closely with the Pakistani Government as to how best to deliver that civilian assistance.
With respect to Betty Ford, I will be honored to travel to California tomorrow to attend her memorial service. I feel very grateful for having known her over the years. Actually, her late husband, President Ford, gave me my first job as an intern in Washington before you were born (laughter)– and so I have always been very grateful to the Fords for what they have represented and the incredible impact that Betty Ford made during her time both as First Lady and in the years after that.
I know from my own personal experience with her, that her commitment to speaking out on issues that before she took them on were just not discussed, made a huge difference in the lives of Americans. When she went public with her breast cancer, that was revolutionary. It seems now that it was so commonplace. But I remember well when my mother’s best friend was dying of breast cancer, nobody talked about it in those days. And Betty Ford came along and made it acceptable. And then when she not only spoke out about her own struggles with addiction, but went on to found the Betty Ford Center, she made a huge difference in the lives of people. And again, she took something that had been kind of hidden away, not talked about in public or polite company, and showed that you could address it and shone a big, bright spotlight on it.
Several years ago, she gave me a tour of the Betty Ford Center, and I was so touched by the interactions that she had, because she always remained a very humble persona and never wanted to take credit for the changes that she herself had initiated, and always said, look, I just did what I thought was right, and if it’s helped people, I’m very grateful for that.
So I am delighted that we’re remembering her with such affection and admiration.
MS. NULAND: Last question (inaudible).
QUESTION: Yes. My question is on Palestine. Representative Ashton, you mentioned the celebrations in Juba when South Sudan declared independence. But if Palestine declares independence in September, I don’t imagine you’re going to have quite as unanimous approval for it. And on that score, I’m just curious what are you doing or how confident are you that the EU 27 will have a united position on Palestine being independent? Because they didn’t for Kosovo and they still don’t.
And also, Secretary Clinton, what will the U.S. do if Palestine declares independence?
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: Well, the important word in your sentence was “if” and we don’t yet know what resolution there might be before the UN, and we’ll all have to make our decisions on the basis of what that is. The most important issue as far as I’m concerned is to create the reality, and the work that we’re engaged in is trying to support both sides to get back into talks in order to create that reality. And in a way, that will be the most important thing and the time when perhaps real celebrations can begin.
Can I just say that Betty Ford’s reputation spread way beyond the United States, and as somebody who watched American politics from afar, I wish I’d known her. But certainly, what she did in terms of exactly as Hillary says, raising issues that were taboo, she raised them in the country I know best as well as here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that embedded in your question is the right answer. Sudan and South Sudan negotiated a peace agreement that led to independence. That is what we’re asking the Palestinians and the Israelis to do. The United States, the UK, Norway and other countries were very involved in the 2005 agreement which ended years of civil war and conflict. In the absence of that agreement, I do not believe there would have been celebration in Juba.
And so therefore, what we strongly advocate is a return to negotiations, because a resolution, a statement, an assertion, is not an agreement. And the path to two states living side by side in peace and security lies through direct negotiations. And the sooner the parties get back to that, the sooner there can be the result that many of us have worked for for a long time.
Jon Tollefson, President of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies: Good morning.
Good morning and welcome to the Dean Acheson Auditorium here at the U.S. Department of State and welcome to one of GLIFAA’s annual pride month celebrations.
We’re very excited that you could all be here to celebrate with us and to join in this discussion on the human rights of L.G.B.T. people abroad.
We have with us to start today a very exciting panel and then the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will join us in a little while, in about 45 minutes time.
And so we’re going to have a discussion to begin this event on the status of L.G.B.T. people worldwide and we have with us some of our foremost experts on human rights in the Obama Administration and we’re very excited to here them speak about L.G.B.T. issues.
GLIFAA is the L.G.B.T. organization of the U.S. foreign affairs agencies and that includes the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps and other foreign offices of U.S. agencies, many of which now serve abroad.
So we’re quite a wide organization and we represent the L.G.B.T. interests and family member issues at all of our agencies and so we’re very excited to be getting more into the policy realm as we expand our activities within the building and abroad.
GLIFAA members both here in Washington and throughout the world play a role in supporting LGBT advocates and advancing L.G.B.T. equality.
Just yesterday at embassy Islamabad in Pakistan, charge d’affaires ambassador Richard Hoagland held the first embassy pride event there and many embassies are doing that around the world.
In Chennai India the GLIFAA group marched behind the GLIFAA banner the local pride parade and these are examples that the whole world is seeing now and we’re asking all GLIFAA members, no matter where you are, to start engaging, if you haven’t already, with L.G.B.T. activists and sporting the embassy in their agency as well.
So let’s get started with the panel.
[TRUNCATED: INTRODUCTION OF MODERATOR MARIA OTERO, UNDER SECRETARY FOR DEMOCRACY AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND PANELISTS MIKE POSNER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR; DON STEINBERG, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR OF USAID; DAN BAER, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHS AND LABOR.]
Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs: Thank you, thank you so much.
This is really a wonderful way to begin the week and an actually wonderful way to really bring to closure the L.G.B.T. Pride Month that we have been celebrating.
As I sit here and listen to Jon talk about the efforts that we’ve been putting forward, it’s actually really hard to believe that it’s been a year since Secretary Clinton said gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.
And in fact we really have made quite a lot of advancements in this past year and I would start by commending GLIFAA for the leadership that they have given, because they’ve really looked not only of policy issues but also with personnel issues and they’ve had a very important impact in, for example, including gender identity in the State Department’s EEO policy.
And being able to also address not only make June pride month very successful but also make this an annual event.
And they also were very important in putting… helping put together the video that the Secretary did called “It Gets Better.”
So I do want to commend you for all the leadership you’re giving in this area and certainly for this work.
One of the things that was mentioned as we were introduced was the degree of interest around the world that is arising on this issue.
I was just in Norway a couple of weeks ago — and this is a really good example of how we are looking to elevate and advance gay rights as part of our overall human rights priorities.
In Norway, I led with the US-Norwegian global issues dialogue.
And under the human rights agenda– because it’s basically a dialogue that covers a variety of different issues– but under human rights it was very important that we really focused on two issues, one was gender-based violence as a very important issue and L.G.B.T. issues were the primary issues we focused on.
The thing that was very interesting about that is that we also learned that Norway is working very closely with Brazil on this issue and we are working very closely with Brazil on this issue so we began to see countries coming together in looking at ways in which they can all work together.
So I’m really very pleased that we have this opportunity to discuss the progress that we’re making around the world to ensuring that human rights are universal.
I think we have moved past the argument of whether L.G.B.T. people are entitled to human rights.
That is not an argument any longer – is an accepted truth.
But what we need to turn our discussion to now is how we can best protect those rights and work internationally in order to make that happen.
I think most of you know that a little bit over a week ago the U.N. human rights council passed the first historic resolution on human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
This was a historic moment and it highlights, really, the progress that we made.
I’m sure we will hear a great deal more about it during the panel discussion and I hope that we do.
And what the resolution does is really affirm that human rights are universal and no one can be excluded from freedom, from dignity, from opportunity just simply because of their sexual orientation or the gender identity.
So I welcome our panelists and really turn it over to them so that they can in brief words, you know, maybe keep it under ten minutes, speak a little bit to some of the things that they want to highlight.
Let me start with Mike Posner, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor: I’m going to stand.
Well, thank you, Maria.
It’s really a pleasure, an honor to be here.
I want to, just if I can, make three points and the first is to elaborate on something that Secretary Clinton said a year ago I think at this event which is that for this Administration and this government, for our country, gay rights are human rights and we view these discussions very much in the context of our commitment to promote a universal standard of rights.
Those that come out of the Universal Declaration of human rights, which was adopted in 1948, very much a product of U.S. leadership. Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the Human Rights Commission in the 1940s which led to the creation, the drafting and then adoption of the Universal Declaration.
And the Universal Declaration is an important document because it was the first time that the world coming out of the Holocaust and World War II said that individuals have rights not because of where they live or where they’re citizens or what their governments say but by virtue of their humanity.
It’s an inclusive document.
It says that by virtue of being a human being you’re entitled not to be discriminated against and it doesn’t delineate categories but clearly in the context in which we’re here today, the L.G.B.T. community is entitled to the protections of the Universal Declaration to live their lives freely and without discrimination.
Secretary Clinton has said again that we are going to uphold these universal standards, one set of standards for the entire world, and we’re going to lead by example.
And that’s very much what we’re trying to do with respect to advancing the L.G.B.T. set of initiatives.
The second point is that President Obama has talked about principled engagement in the world.
What it means is that in every country where we do business, where we have diplomatic relations and every country in the world, we are both looking at and promoting various economic, political, strategic interests, but human rights, including the rights of L.G.B.T. people, are part of that discussion.
It’s simply now what we do.
And we do it on several levels.
We do reporting.
We do an annual report on human rights, which covers 194 countries in the world.
The focus increasingly is on… we are increasingly attentive to, and embassies are paying attention to, discrimination, violence, et cetera, directed at the L.G.B.T. community in those countries.
Secondly is our bilateral diplomacy.
We will talk, I’m sure, in the coming minutes about some of the particular places, but one we’ve had a range of challenges throughout the African continent and Uganda in some ways has been a flash point where proposed legislation would have not only criminalized gay sex but also made it a capital offense in some cases.
We push very hard across the board, Dan Baer visited Uganda, as did Maria, and we’ve been thus far successful in stemming the tide of that legislative effort.
There are many, many other examples, specific examples of countries.
This is part of our civil society initiative.
Secretary Clinton last July in Krakow as part of the community of democracies gave a landmark speech, really talking about restrictions on the ability of civil society, N.G.O. activists, to organize, to operate freely.
And these… these rights, again, apply very much to the community, the L.G.B.T. community and countries who are often denied the ability to speak out, to assemble, to associate, to advocate, on behalf of their community.
And finally, we are involved in a multilateral set of activities.
Maria mentioned the U.N. human rights council resolution, actually a South African initiative that was adopted just several weeks ago.
We’ve come a huge way in the last four or five years since I think the French first proposed or began initiating some discussion of these issues, even in the last year there’s been a dramatic step forward and I’m really proud to say that we in this Administration have taken a lead in, again, trying to get a global consensus or a global initiative, particularly here addressing violent activity directed against the L.G.B.T. community.
To say the least, we’ve made progress, but there’s a long way to go.
So for me in the broader context of a human rights policy of the United States, these are cutting-edge issues in the 21st century, human rights issues.
They’re issues in which I’m proud to be associated with an administration that unambiguously is saying this is part of what we do in promoting human rights around the world.
Maria Otero: Thank you, Mike.
Let’s proceed, then, and have Don Steinberg, the deputy administrator for U.S.A.I.D. proceed to the podium.
Ambassador Donald Steinberg: Thank you, Maria.
It really is a great pleasure to be here today.
This is, indeed, an exciting moment for those of us who are committed to these issues.
I don’t think we can overstate the impact of the U.N.’s resolution last week from the human rights commission, which has the acronym H.R.C. and for the first time I’m realizing that is “Hillary Rodham Clinton” and it is fully reflective of her views.
This was a very exciting moment.
Our administrator, Rod Shaw, was so excited that he tweeted 100,000 people to endorse what had been done.
Pointing out that the rights of the L.G.B.T. community are rights that we all support, we all defend, and we all highlight.
For me, however, at U.S.A.I.D., this isn’t just a question of fairness or equity or even human rights.
It is a question of how we do our development policy.
Effectiveness and efficiency.
We recognize at U.S.A.I.D. that our development efforts won’t be successful unless they’re inclusive and are drawing on the full contributions of the entire community that we’re dealing with, including the L.G.B.T. community.
So we have four pillars that we’re focused on at U.S.A.I.D. in this regard first we’re ensuring that in our specific projects we engage in efforts to enhance the political, economic, and social development of the L.G.B.T. community.
Including through our direct programming and through our partnership arrangements.
In terms of our partnerships, we’re developing templates that incorporate bans on bias that comes against sexual and gender identity for our agency but also for our development partners.
We are ensuring that we’re involving the L.G.B.T. community as planners, as implementers, and as beneficiaries of our programs based on the principle “nothing about them without them.”
We’re trying to build viable civil society institutions capable of defending the rights and promoting the interests of these individuals and this community.
Most importantly, our mission must be to promote social and legal equality for the L.G.B.T. community through our conversations, our advocacy and our programs.
A couple of examples are our work with professional associations here in the United States to encourage them create equitable, professional and expert service deliveries to L.G.B.T. communities in developing in transitional countries as well as funding of U.S.A.I.D. sensitivity training to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for L.G.B.T. clients for our activities.
Secondly, we need to recognize that the protection and participation of L.G.B.T. community is essential during times of conflict or emergencies.
It’s during these periods that marginalized communities are most vulnerable.
We often say let’s just get the job done, let’s get food, let’s get water, let’s get health services, we’ll worry about these issues later.
But, indeed, that misses the point.
We have been involved personally in my case with efforts to expand the protection of rights and the security of the L.G.B.T. populations in the context of population displacement, especially refugee camps and I.D.P. camps.
Indeed, we must go beyond the concept of viewing this community as victims and see them for what they are: Vital contributors to a holistic strategy.
Third, we need to ensuring the issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity are fully mainstreamed and integrated into our broader programming as a cross cutting theme.
We need to recognize that the success of our efforts to ensuring food security or democracy and good governance, economic growth and perhaps most significantly global health rests in large part on our capacity to harness and to create space for all countries to draw on the talents and the contributions of this community.
I’m just returning this week from discussions in Istanbul and Paris to set an agenda for developing countries for the conference on aid effectiveness toward the end of this year.
And I’m pleased that the United States was able to promote concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity to be addressed in the basic documents that we will be adopting at this that point.
Finally but certainly not least we must ensuring that we’re walking the walk in house.
We need to ensure that our own practices, attitudes, and actions related to sexual orientation and gender identity reflect the values of democracy, human dignity, diversity, and inclusion.
This means carefully looking at our recruitment, our promotion, and our evaluation policies and practices to ensuring that they’re both free of discrimination and dedicated to the career advancement of all of our staff both in Washington and abroad.
We are conducting trainings for every incoming official in our development leadership initiative on the issues of L.G.B.T. rights and practices and we’re conducting listening sessions where administrator Shaw and myself hear the concerns directly from individuals who are either working on these issues or have personal interest in them.
In order to highlight these concerns, I’m pleased to announce that U.S.A.I.D. will shortly name a senior coordinator for sexual orientation and gender identity who will be responsible for advising the U.S.A.I.D. Administrator on this agenda.
And further, we’re establishing an agency policy coordinating committee to perform such functions as information and knowledge exchange, consensus building, sharing and documenting of best practices and advising on policy and strategy gaps.
This committee will begin with the so-called landscape analysis to assess where we are right now on the four pillars I’ve described before, including our U.S.A.I.D. foreign development assistance strategy.
In order to complete all of this work, we NEED to draw on you, both members of GLIFAA as well as individuals who care about these issues as well as individuals who work on these issues.
We are open to your comments, we are open to your criticisms and we look forward to working with you on this vital agenda.
Maria Otero: Thank you.
Thank you, Don.
Let’s proceed, then, with Dan Baer who is the deputy assistant administrator for the bureau of democracy, human rights, and labor.
And Dan, if you would proceed.
Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor: I feel like a trend has been started and so I have to continue it.
I would be happy to sit down but I’ll be brief since I’m a pinch hitter here and pinch hitters should be brief.
But I just want to say thanks again to John and GLIFAA for organizing this event.
I think it’s really… this is a landmark event as well and it’s really a testament to your leadership and everybody in GLIFAA who has contributed to this so thank you very much.
The leadership of the people within our diplomatic corps, within our development professionals community is really important to our making progress as a whole on these issues and it’s really been outstanding over the last year and a half and obviously the support from the top is great but it’s also a bunch of people working everyday to move these issues forward that makes a difference.
So thank you very much.
I just want to say a few quick things.
One, the resolution that everybody has talked about already.
It really was… I was on the floor in the human rights council when it passed, it really was a momentous occasion.
The vote was 23-19.
And, of course, one wants these things to be consensus and they will be consensus someday because even if it was 23-19, everybody on both sides of that vote knew that it was a watershed moment.
And it was really, really impressive to hear the South African ambassador stand up and give a rousing address about the importance of L.G.B.T. human rights within the context of the human rights struggle of his own country was a truly inspiring and, frankly, a moment that even six months ago I would have bet a lot of money against.
So it was a really special time.
When I talk about what kind of comes next in terms of making progress on L.G.B.T. human rights around the world I often talk about busting three myths.
Three myths that you encounter on a regular basis as you work on these issues around the world and the first myth is that L.G.B.T. issues are a western thing and that problems that L.G.B.T. people face are a non-western thing.
And the fact is that that’s not true on either count.
L.G.B.T. issues are not a western thing.
L.G.B.T. people are not a western phenomenon.
And the problems that L.G.B.T. people face they face everywhere, including in the west.
And so rejecting the idea that this is somehow a particular phenomenon that applies to one part of the world or one culture is the first myth.
The second is rejecting the idea that L.G.B.T. rights are special rights.
You know, as secretary Clinton’s words made clear with regard to women, this was also a… something that was asserted with regard to women’s rights and the power of the statement that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights was to say these aren’t special, these are part and parcel of the universal standards that Mike talked about.
And so we need to reject the idea that they’re special rights, as Secretary Clinton did last year.
And the third is that… the idea that advancing human rights for L.G.B.T. people is the job of L.G.B.T. people only.
The fact is that if these are universal rights, they are the universal job of all of us, of all of us who are committed to human rights.
And so these are… just as women’s rights aren’t women’s work, L.G.B.T. rights aren’t the work of the L.G.B.T. community, they are the work of all of us and all of us should be committed to doing that.
As we go forward, you know, as… as Mike and Don Steinberg have alluded to, there are ways in which our government is already engaging on this and I want to just say a couple things.
First, we have to do more than lip service.
Events like today are great, they get us inspired, they get us on the same page, they tell us about the job ahead, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on that’s day-to-day work that really does make the progress.
There’s engagement both with government leaders that our diplomats around the world are engaging in at the direction of the secretary.
I myself have been in meetings where we’ve raised L.G.B.T. human rights concerns with the foreign minister, justice minister, or Prime Minister of over half dozen African countries and that kind of work is going on around the world and it’s really important.
It’s work that probably wasn’t happening not so long ago.
And it’s an important way that we’re engaging.
We’re also engaging with civil society and with activists and we’re engaging in a way that is more than just the first order engagement of reaching out to L.G.B.T. groups but really recognizing as deputy administrator Steinberg talked about the kind of second-order issues are involved in this problem.
So, you know, in many cases sex workers and L.G.B.T. issues, the marginalization of L.G.B.T. people leads many of them to find themselves in the position of being sex workers and you can’t actually make progress if you’re not willing to engage.
I had lunch in Turkey about six months ago with a trans sex worker who is an activist there and as I sat there, her and her knee high black vinyl boots and fish net stockings and a tube top and me in my U.S. State Department diplomatic attire, I thought you know this weren’t normal a while back and I’m not sure… I may be the first person to have lunch with a transvestite sex worker for a legitimate business purpose.
And so we’re engaging not only on the first order issues but on the second order issues.
And lastly, one of the things we’re trying to do as Deputy Administrator Steinberg mentioned is we’re looking for the right ways to support people who are working on the ground to make progress around the world.
And one of the things DRL has done in the last 18 months is set up a fund that is basically an emergency support fund for those who get in trouble because of their advocacy on L.G.B.T. issues and over the last year we’ve helped dozens of people in a variety of countries when they’ve come under threat because of the work they’re doing.
So I’ll stop there and leave us some time for questions.
Thanks very much, again, to everybody for being here today.
Maria Otero: Thank you, Dan.
And you were pinch-hitting but I’d say he hit it out of the ballpark.
I think he did a pretty good job.
I think we’ve heard from different perspectives, just the ways in which we are addressing this issue and certainly as Dan mentioned, for those of us that worked on gender issues– and that goes back into the 1970s, when I was 12–
We… these were some of the same questions that came up and some of the factors that made it important for us to push forward.
And what we have heard from here is not only that we’re working at the diplomatic level and that we are engaging in our own diplomacy and our own reporting and our own work, but we are also training our own people in order to be able to do this and we are funding as we look at the many different ways to address it.
But just gathering from the different presentations where we’ve seen the recurrence of different words such as “inclusive,” “partnering.”
Words related to the kinds of very important issues or events such as the human rights council event that are marking the way we’re moving this forward.
One of the things that I wanted to ask particularly, Mike, is the degree to which as you’re looking at gay rights being human rights and you discussed universal declaration of human rights. It’s always wonderful to have Mike on a panel because he will always go back to the source of everything, which is terrific.
But can we frame this a little more in international human rights and think also of international human rights law as we see it more broadly speaking?
Mike Posner: Thanks, Maria.
Yeah, I think it is a logical evolution of all of the work that’s been done over the last 60 some years in fleshing out the standards articulated in the universal declaration and the two covenants, civil and political rights and economic, social, and cultural rights.
And it is for me also taking a look at the various practical ways that the State Department, a.i.d., work on any number of issues, going from principle to practical applications.
So what I see happening– and it’s happening at a very quick pace– is that everywhere from the recruitment and training of new foreign service officers, civil servants, these issues are now part of the landscape and so it’s a sensitizing and educational process.
It’s the reporting of these acts of discrimination in the context of our annual human rights reporting.
Again, drawn from the covenants and the international standards, how are governments doing against an international frame?
It’s funding, what Don described so well– and Dan– the defenders fund that we have in DRL it’s diplomatic engagement as we do on a whale range of issues.
This is now part of the menu when Secretary Clinton or Dan or I are out in the world, these are the… part of the sets of issues that we discussed in the frame of international human rights standards.
And it’s public diplomacy.
What’s been so striking to me is how often Secretary Clinton has gone out of her way to raise these issues even when they’re not asked.
She’s making a point– and Cheryl Mills does this, too– of saying this is something that we’re going to be out front on so that the public knows this is not something that’s happening behind the scenes.
We are framing these publicly as human rights issues.
And finally it’s a whole of government approach.
It’s not enough just for DRL at State or AID to be doing it, it’s important that PRM is figuring out what are the particular vulnerabilities of L.G.B.T. refugees.
It’s important that we also go beyond state and look at what’s the rest of the government is doing and finally it’s important as we did with the universal periodic review last year that we lead by example.
This is not just about the rest of the world, it’s about those universal standards being applied in the United States as well and our really being a leader and saying these rights apply at home as well as abroad.
Mario Otero: Thinking about all those different ways in which we’re operating, what you bring to the center stage is the fact that we are now interacting with advocates with whom we really didn’t have a lot of interaction, as Dan said, before.
But many of these advocates are not operating in countries where they have this kind of coverage or this kind of support.
In fact, many of them they are on the ground and they’re in volatile sometimes very vulnerable situations.
So Dan, maybe we can talk a little bit about as you meet with these folks or as we interact with them, they themselves– we know, we’ve been in meetings like this– are… even when they come out really put themselves in considerable danger, especially in some countries that have enormous resistance to this issue.
How do we interact with them then?
How do we provide protection in what do we do in order to make sure that we’re not just exposing them in a way that we are not exposed because we’re protecting them.
Dan Baer: I think that a really important point to make.
It’s not just L.G.B.T. activists who we meet with who may be put at risk by their association with the U.S. government so we’re always trying to be careful, I’m sure, all of us on this panel are trying to be careful and one of the first principles is you don’t force people to meet with you.
You let them decide and you try to help them make sure that they are aware of the risks that they may be taking on by meeting with us.
And try to adapt the situation in a way that best protects them.
My own experience is that by and large the vast majority of people do feel that going to a U.S. embassy, especially those who are already beleaguered and out and advocating, et cetera, going to a U.S. embassy actually does help shine a spotlight on their work.
The moral authority of the United States government and of our embassies and missions around the world is powerful and most of them, I think, feel like it gives a bit of protection, a measure of protection, as well as being an opportunity for us to engage.
But I think one of the things that we can continue to do is not only meet with these people but also one of the things that I’ve been focusing on is, you know, when I travel I often meet with L.G.B.T. activists, I also usually meet with a range of human rights activists and one of the things I’ve been focusing on lately is really encouraging the kind of established leaders of established human rights organizations generally to do their part in terms of reaching out to L.G.B.T. groups.
And often it’s women’s groups who are most willing to do this or general human rights organizations, N.G.O.s, et cetera.
They need the support of their local civil society partners as well.
So one of the things that we can do is encourage that kind of support so that they’re less isolated, less standing out on their own, less vulnerable.
Maria Otero: Thank you.
Does anybody else want to add to that?
Don Steinberg: Just very briefly.
When I was American ambassador in Angola and someone would step forward on one of these issues, whether it was a question of gender, ethnicity, or L.G.B.T. issues, I would have our human rights official quietly call that person and say “do you want a meeting at the embassy with the ambassador?
Do you want the American flag wrapped around you?”
And frequently they would say yes.
Equally frequently they would say, “Are you kidding”?
That’s the last thing I want.
But, indeed, it is really up to them to make the decision as to whether a connection with the United States is going to be protection or a threat and I think we need to respect that.
Maria Otero: Thank you.
Mike Posner: Maria, if I can just add a word to follow up on something that Dan said.
Before coming into government I worked with an N.G.O. and we had a big campaign looking at discrimination and it was in the context of the O.S.C.E., the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
And I went to a meeting in Brussels where the discussion was about violence borne out of hate.
Hatred of vulnerable or marginalized populations.
And one of the things that was really striking to me, that was group there with the Roma community, that was group of Jewish activists concerned about anti-Semitism, a group of Muslims in Europe concerned about their situation, L.G.B.T. activists, African refugees.
Each one of the groups felt marginalized and isolated and they were all in effect fighting the same forces or many of the same forces.
And it was so difficult for them to think, oh, my God, we’re not alone, there’s actually others in the same boat if we can only get ourselves together.
So I think that’s one of the things… one of the challenges for us, frankly, is to try to create an organic whole recognizing that these vulnerable groups are often times weaker standing alone, stronger coming together and being part of a larger discussion that we all universal human rights.
Maria Otero: Good.
As you talk about particularly vulnerable groups, I’m reminded also that one set of vulnerable L.G.B.T. population are in the refugee community, those that are especially in situations of conflict, as was mentioned, and themselves become far more exposed when they’re either in a refugee situation or in an asylum-seeking situation.
And through our Population Refugee and Migration bureau I thought it would be good to mention since Assistant secretary Schwartz is not here, I think he would like us to be able to include in this discussion the work that we’re doing in order to address this issue among refugees.
We ourselves have developed a comprehensive strategy for how it is that we would work with refugees in this situation and we are also working with U.N.H.C.R., the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, so that they themselves provide training for their staff who are working refugee camps and who are developing ways in which they can make sure that this population is not discriminated against, is not persecuted but is actually protected effectively.
This is one of the areas that is important and interestingly our Department of Health and Human Services is developing the same thing for those refugees that are asylum seekers who are L.G.B.T. refugees.
Because they themselves also are entering a new community can suffer considerable discrimination.
So I think these are some of the ways in which we’re trying to address this.
And I’m sure AID is doing some of this as well.
And maybe if you… as you address this, it might be also interesting to hear a little bit more from you about the way in which you’re providing funding or how it is that you are really funding activities that are directly related to L.G.B.T.
Don Steinberg: I just wanted to pick up on your other point, though, because if it’s true for refugees it is true in spades for internally displaced people.
In 2005/2006 I was a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and spent the year going around the world living in I.D.P. (internally displaced persons) camps from Sri Lanka to Sudan and other places and you always found it was marginalized communities who had been marginalized during peacetime who were most vulnerable during that period as well.
And I believe that in general we have pretty good guidance from the interagency steering committee of the United Nations, that we’ve been participating in how to address both sexual violence and other issues of marginalization.
But this is the one issue where the guidance is faulty.
The L.G.B.T. parts of the I.A.S.C. guidance for U.N.H.C.R. is just not sufficient and we are committed to working with P.R.M. as well as ourselves to bring that guidance up to speed.
Maria, in terms of the funding side, the real question here for me is institutionalization of these efforts.
I mean, if we can not achieve results when we have Barack Obama as President and Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State yourself, Michael Posner in senior positions here, Rajiv Shaw and Barry Wells over at U.S.A.I.D., if we can’t achieve results during this period we’ll never be able to do it.
But the question is: Are we institutionalizing this?
Are we creating new points that any future administration will not be able to roll back?
And for me that means building institutions within developing countries in particular where much of the prejudice and discrimination occurs so that these institutions are stronger.
It means developing systems, codes of conduct.
We just adopted a code of conduct for trafficking in persons that provides tough new standards not only for U.S.A.I.D. but for U.S.A.I.D.’s development partners overseas.
We need to do the same in this area.
We need to build partnerships with the American community that cares about these issues and, frankly, has resources to devote to it.
So that long-term relationships are built.
It’s all about sustainability of these actions and about country ownership.
We need also to be looking at second order issues.
Are financial systems prejudiced against the L.G.B.T. communities such that they cannot get financing for entrepreneurships and other considerations.
And so in the whole range of food security, global health, climate change, democracy and governance, economic growth and other areas where we’ve prioritized, these issues have to be in our D.N.A.
Maria Otero: Thank you.
Anybody else want to address this mainstreaming challenge that exists?
Dan Baer: It’s related to that but also to where Mike left off in terms of our example in leading by example.
I thought it might be fun to share a couple vignettes of times where this that’s really been driven home in the last year.
One was I met with activists in St. Petersburg and for those of you who have been following the news over the weekend, St. Petersburg Pride parade was disturbed and people were arrested.
I met with folks last summer as they were starting to plan this and I met with this lesbian activist at my hotel, she came to my hotel and the first thing she did was pull out a button that she had been so excited to give me which was a “Harvey Milk for Supervisor button.”
And she talked about how watching that movie had inspired her to become an activist in her community.
And that American story had inspired her… I mean, the ironies of my getting a button from a Russian activist about a San Franciscan who… but it was a… and she teared up as she gave it to me and told me the story.
It reminded me of the power of our example, the way that we institutionalize our commitments and how that has not only had an affect on how we do things but how others do.
And the other more recent story, Mike and I were in Beijing for the Annual China Human Rights Dialogue, the U.S. government’s annual human rights dialogue and I met with a group of L.G.B.T. activists there and they are planning a Pride celebration for later this summer.
It’s really impressive.
They have a great web site, actually.
And one of them told me that they are working on putting together… launching an “it gets better” campaign and that they had seen Secretary Clinton’s and President Obama’s videos and that that was part of their inspiration to try to do the same sort of viral video campaign within China.
And so the ways that we lead do replicate themselves in ways big and small and I think the power of our example is really important to remember.
I also– before giving up the mic– I want to say that I just want to recognize that the Undersecretary and Assistant Secretary have come in since we’ve started and both of them have been… we’ve talked about some of the successes that the Administration has had in this area and both of them have been on the front lines of that and have been crucial to it and I want to recognize them publicly for their work.
Maria Otero: Thank you.
I think we’re about closing up the panel, as we know we are all anticipating the arrival of the Secretary.
But, you know, one of the… I would just put this forth as one of the final questions for consideration.
As we talk about leading with example, we also know that in our own country there’s still a great deal of work to be done and that this effort has to be addressed.
And as we also work in other countries, we are confronted with the social, the cultural, the religious concerns that exist related to L.G.B.T. people.
That governments themselves and that civil society attempt to deal with and that private sector should also be addressing.
So I just wonder if we can just say a few words to close this discussion about how it is that as we look at this governments themselves, the way that we are putting this forth in the Obama Administration could themselves play a role, I think we’re beginning to see this effort take place.
I mentioned Brazil.
Brazil is a very good example of a country that’s not only leading by example but also leading in the region.
So if we could just address that a little bit in the way in which we are all surrounding our own work.
Whoever wants to address it, yes.
Mike Posner: Well, just a couple of things on that as you were speaking.
I was thinking about the role of the private sector and one of the things that’s really been quite striking is how much in the last ten or 15 years we’ve begun to think about the private sector, the corporate sector in particular, as another piece of the puzzle in terms of how we advance our rights agenda abroad.
In the labor area, for example, my bureau does democracy, human rights, and labor.
And one of the things we are now very actively looking at and working on is how to use the global manufacturing supply chains as a way to advance some of our notions about minimal labor rights standards.
Using the American and European companies as a wedge or as a piece of influence, a part of the influence.
So there are American labor practices, we applied them at home.
What does it mean for the American manufacturer when they go to China or India or Bangladesh to produce their products?
There is now a growing body of evidence or body of work that says their responsibilities follow their product line and their brand reputation depends on their having a global strategy for making sure that things produced under their banner are produced in accordance with some universal or international standards for labor rights.
I think the same strategy ought to be implemented here.
As American companies take on greater responsibility with respect to these rights and they operate abroad, we ought to be thinking of them as a natural partner to try to push this universal set of rights not just through the government, but through the private sector.
Maria Otero: Good.
Don Steinberg: If we here in the wrap-up stage, I just wanted to add one thing.
And that is we’re all talking as if we’ve got these answers here.
The truth is we have to have a lot of modesty here.
We don’t really know as well as we should what the issues at play are.
We haven’t even really done the environmental analysis, if I can say that, within U.S.A.I.D.
Right now Claire Lucas and Urvashi Vaid are involved in trying to do an analysis… a landscape analysis at U.S.A.I.D. to see exactly where the gaps are, where the opportunities are, where we’re doing well, but where the challenges are.
And, again, for that purpose we really need the community to help us.
And so this is both a reassertion of our modesty but also a request for your help in guiding us as we move ahead on this important agenda.
Maria Otero: Well, thank you very much.
I think we’ve had an opportunity to cover a great number of issues.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you all so much. It is indeed a personal pleasure and honor to be in this historic hall for this extraordinary occasion. And I am delighted to join such a distinguished group of speakers and visitors and friends in support of the great effort to establish the Tom Lantos Institute, and with the hope that it will fulfill its promise.
I want to thank Katrina, my friend, for that introduction and for her leadership on behalf of human rights and internet freedom through the Lantos Foundation, which you and your mother and sister have established. And I want to thank all of the speakers that we have heard from. And thank you, Prime Minister. I am looking forward to our meeting later. We will be discussing many of the issues that have been alluded to, and that were so crucial to Tom’s life and work.
And I want to thank the foreign minister for that very important address talking about the transatlantic alliance, democracy, and freedom, values that we hold so dear, and especially to acknowledge the new director of the institute, Rita Izsak, and my predecessor, Dr. Rice, who has worked so hard for democracy and freedom around the world, and joined with then-Chairman Lantos at the State Department five years ago to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.
Dr. Rice is here today to attend various events, along with members of the Reagan Presidential Foundation, upon the centennial anniversary of President Reagan’s birth. I know that Hungarians will never forget President Reagan’s commitment to a free and democratic Europe.
Well, that was a dream of Tom’s, as well. And he has not only lived it, but he has been the embodiment for many of us of what it would mean. Those of us who knew, loved, and admired Tom saw in him the physical moral embodiment of the values that we share, and the commitment to freedom that means so much to the American and Hungarian people. Tom believed with all his heart that a free, democratic Europe depended on a strong transatlantic alliance, and that through institutions like the European Union and NATO, Europe could create a foundation for prosperity, human rights, and democratic, open and pluralistic societies.
We agree. We know we are bound by shared values, and by that common commitment to protect and advance those values. Tom also believed in working across party lines, something that Katrina alluded to. So I am delighted to thank the Government of Hungary, and indeed, the prior government and all of the political representation here in support of this institute.
And I also want to acknowledge the members of the United States House of Representatives, both Democratic and Republican, represented so ably by Congresswoman Bass, who are with us. And yesterday, by unanimous consent, the United States Senate passed a resolution commemorating today’s opening of the Lantos Institute, and reflecting once again the admiration that his colleagues had for Tom. (Applause.)
But I believe probably what would have given Tom the greatest pride, and made his heart swell with love, was to see all of the Lantoses, Tillemann-Dicks, Swetts, and related family members here today. Tom and Annette created this big, extended, warm, wonderful family. And this is one family that didn’t need a village. It created its own village, and it has been influencing the rest of us ever since. And a special acknowledgement to that eldest grandson, who you just saw on the video, Tomicah, who is not only a pivotal player in the foundation and the institute, but also my senior advisor for civil society and emerging democracies in the State Department, so the work goes on that Tom Lantos started. (Applause.)
And lastly, and most particularly and personally, I want to thank Annette. This day belongs to her more than anybody else. Not only were she and Tom beloved companions for more than 70 years – and as we saw, adorable children – and apart from the terrible war that separated them and cost their families so dearly, they rarely spent a moment apart. Annette worked with Tom every day in his congressional office. She travelled with him around the world. They were soul mates.
But their story has not ended with Tom’s passing. It has evolved. Because through this institute and the foundation, Annette will share with Tom, as she always did, the commitment to a future that is better than even the present that we enjoy today, and far better than the past which they shared. Annette has given us this great opportunity to continue to be champions of human rights, democracy, tolerance, and reconciliation.
When Tom Lantos founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1983, that was new. And he did it because he saw there was a need. It became an invaluable bipartisan enterprise that, for close to three decades now, has brought Democrats and Republicans together. He made human rights seem right to people who had never thought about them much before, or who may have even had a little bit of antagonism to them. But Tom fought for refuseniks in the Soviet Union; for Tibetans to practice their religion; for Christians in Saudi Arabia and Sudan; for Muslims in China; for ethnic minorities in the Balkans; and for people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. No person was written off by Tom Lantos. He thought he had an obligation to reach out and embrace them all.
Now, when Tom grew up here in this country that he loved so much, the only debate that mattered was the one between freedom and fascism, and then between freedom and communism. Tom believed that in our country there were partisan political differences, of course, between Republicans and Democrats or between a President Reagan and a President Clinton, just to pick one. (Laughter.) But Tom always believed that regardless of our political party, we were fundamentally on the same side. We were for freedom. We were for democracy. And that through debate, sometimes contested, we would keep working toward what our founders set as the goal, a more perfect union.
Now, when Tom saw what happened after the communists seized control of Hungary, he realized that through what was called “salami tactics,” they were slicing away, bit by bit, fundamental freedoms. And that, to him, meant he could not go home. But he did not become embittered. He did not look backwards. He kept thinking about what contribution his life could make to the ongoing struggle for freedom and human dignity. He worked with Secretary Madeleine Albright and Senator Robert Dole to bring Hungary and other Central and Eastern European countries into NATO. He spoke out repeatedly for the protection of minorities, and he paid particular attention to the plight of the Roma, Europe’s largest disenfranchised minority. And I am very pleased that, during the presidency of the European Union, the Hungarian Government has pushed for reforms that would guarantee the Roma people the same rights and opportunities their fellow citizens enjoy. (Applause.)
Tom’s past served him in another way, as a call to conscience, a permanent vigilance against anti-Semitism, discrimination, oppression, and genocide. In the bookmark that appears at each of our seats, there is one of his most memorable quotes: “We must remember that the veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.” Tom not only tried to live by those words, he tried to hold other people’s feet to the fire, when he didn’t think they were. A Washington Post article about his life summed up by saying, “His efforts to inspire – or, if necessary, shame – individuals, companies and governments into honorable behavior were exhaustive and creative.” And that’s why, at age 78, he was arrested for demonstrating against the genocide in Darfur in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.
Now, one of the aspects of Tom that has not yet been mentioned is that he was a politician. And, as a recovering former politician myself, I think we should pay tribute to that. Because it is one thing to stand on the outside, out of the arena, advocating for the changes that one wants to see in society, and it is entirely different to roll up your sleeves, subject yourself to the votes and the will of your people, and engage in the hard, often frustrating work of political change.
Tom was a great campaigner. I campaigned for him, he campaigned for me. He would come to my office in the Senate and provide both solicited and unsolicited advice. (Laughter.) And it wasn’t just about human rights. It was often about politics, about building coalitions, about winning elections.
So this was, indeed, a renaissance man. He had a full life that we honor and celebrate. But it would be a disservice to him if we did not look forward to what I am sure he expects from us. Democracy is struggling to be born around the world today. The nations of Central and Eastern Europe have so much to share from their own struggles and triumphs. So, the timing of this institute could not be more opportune. On Europe’s doorstep – across the Middle East and Northern Africa – citizens are demanding what so many others have before. From the United States in the 18th century, to Chile and Tunisia, South Korea, East Timor, post-Soviet countries over the past 30 years.
What are they demanding? That their voices be heard. That they have the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potentials with enough freedom to make responsible choices for themselves, their families, and communities, that government become more effective, more responsive, more transparent, more open.
And what they are asking demands an answer from all of us. Later today, I will travel to Vilnius to join with the Community of Democracies, where we will work with emerging democracies to share the experiences with those fighting for democracy now, to show solidarity with those in the streets, in Belarus, in Libya, around the world. It is important for governments and civil society alike to shine a bright light on why some young democracies flourish while others fail. How can we help navigate the very difficult road they have begun?
At a time when technology transmits news and information instantly, we have all become the global equivalent of neighbors. And what happens in Tunis and Cairo reverberates in Budapest, Jakarta, and Washington. For all democracies around the world, old and new, including my own country and yours, it is vital that we continue building and strengthening our own democratic institutions. It is vital that we understand that the glue which holds together democracies is trust – trust between people as we widen the circle of democratic inclusion, and trust between the people and their governments. It is vital that we not engage in destructive political tactics or the kind of rhetoric that erodes that trust in democracy and one another. We need strong checks and balances across party lines and from one government to the next.
As we struggle to help new democracies emerge, we can’t let any democracy anywhere backslide. The stakes are too high. Other company – other countries are trumpeting national economic growth over freedom and human rights, as though the two are neither compatible nor mutually reinforcing. So that is why this institute is more needed than ever.
Let us work across all sectors of society and all the lines that we too easily believe divide us, to strengthen and support democracy, civil society, and the rule of law, and to protect the rights of minorities, to make sure that when justice is served, it is administered with due process and judicial integrity, not political vengeance or partisan meddling. Those were the principles for which Tom fought so hard.
In one of his last conversations with a close Hungarian friend, Tom expressed his faith in Hungarians and their ability to persevere through any challenge. He believed that Hungarians would always remember the spirit of the 1956 uprising. But watchfulness was crucial for Tom in our country and in his native Hungary. When he was invited to deliver the keynote address before the United Nations at its Holocaust Remembrance Day, he accepted, planning to repeat again his well-known quote about the veneer of civilization, but his health prevented him from going. And in the end, he asked Katrina to deliver the speech for him. So once again, from his daughter, he heard, the world heard the message of vigilance.
And you won’t be surprised that they also heard one of Tom’s famous rabbi stories. Anybody who knew Tom Lantos could not talk to him for more than 20 minutes without hearing a rabbi story, so let me leave you with one of his favorites. It goes like this: A rabbi asks his followers, “How can one know the moment when the night has ended and the dawn has come?” And his students gave various answers. One asked, “Is it when a man walking through the woods can tell whether an approaching animal is a wolf or a dog?” The rabbi shook his head no. Another student asked, “Could it be when a man walking through the village can distinguish the roof of his house from that of his neighbors?” And once again, the rabbi shook his head no. And then the rabbi spoke, “The moment when you know that the night has turned to day is when you see the face of a stranger and recognize him as your brother.” A story with a big message, as all of Tom’s stories had; a message not only for leaders but also for citizens.
So let us celebrate this inauguration of the Tom Lantos Institute, but more than that, let us pledge ourselves to continue his work in the spirit of Hungarian-American cooperation on behalf of the values that he held so dear and work to hasten that hour when night turns to day for everyone.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)