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Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Goals and Priorities for the 67th United Nations General Assembly

Special Briefing
Esther Brimmer
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Washington, DC
September 21, 2012


MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. It is finally Friday, and the Friday before the UN General Assembly begins; so as is our tradition, we welcome to the podium Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer to give you all a setup for next week.


ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Thank you very much. I appreciate this annual opportunity to briefly outline the Administration’s goals and priorities for the new UN General Assembly session and to provide a bit more information about the Secretary’s key activities in New York next week.

Now, you can appreciate much of her schedule is a moving target, but I will highlight some of the benchmark events throughout the week. Let me first put our priorities at this year’s General Assembly in the context of our broader foreign policy over the past three and a half years. If you compare where the United States is now with the situation President Obama faced in January 2009, I think it’s clear that U.S. global engagement, including across the United Nations system, has resulted in an America that is more effectively addressing a range of global challenges and threats and is more respected as a leader. From tough global sanctions on Iran and North Korea to a transformed Human Rights Council, U.S. multilateral leadership has advanced our security as well as our values while rebuilding the architecture of global cooperation to better meet 21st century challenges.

So our approach at the 67th UN General Assembly builds on this foundation of effective multilateral diplomacy. Broadly put, the United Nations as a whole and next week’s General Assembly high-level meetings offer opportunities for nations of the world to build partnerships towards shared goals, to effectively exercise their responsibilities to their citizens, and to stand together to reject the kind of violence that we’ve seen over the past two weeks.

To that end, we have four broad priorities for the upcoming session of the General Assembly. First, we will continue to advance U.S. interests and objectives at the UN. That includes effective implementation of international sanctions on Iran’s illicit nuclear program. We’ll work to strengthen global nonproliferation and counterterrorism regimes, to bolster UN peacekeeping and conflict resolution capabilities, and promote greater global cooperation on atrocity prevention. And we will continue to oppose unilateral Palestinian actions in the UN on issues that can only be achieved through direct negotiations.

Second, we’re going to expand our successful efforts on UN reform. We’re going to work to lock in last December’s historic five percent reduction in the UN regular budget, to further strengthen accountability and oversight, to take concrete steps to increase integrity, and support streamlining and greater effectiveness so more of the UN’s programs can target those who need them most.

Third, we’ll maintain our global leadership on human rights. We’ll continue to shine a spotlight on abuses worldwide in places like Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Sudan. We’ll strengthen UN human rights and rule of law activities worldwide and promote gender equality. The Human Rights Council is an important part of this agenda, and our participation has made a positive impact on its work, which is why we’re seeking reelection to the UN Human Rights Council this autumn.

Fourth, we’ll build on the progress already made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals and on Rio+20. We’ll push for more effective and efficient support across the UN for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

So as we head into the high-level portion of the 67th UN General Assembly, we are buoyed by our past successes but realistic about the obstacles that remain.

With these goals in mind, let me outline some of the Secretary’s activities next week. Of course, as I said, you know the Secretary’s schedule remains a work in progress, but as of today, this is what I can report.

On Monday, the 24th, Secretary Clinton will help launch the Equal Futures Partnership. This is a new initiative to break down barriers to women’s participation in economic and political institutions around the world. And I certainly don’t need to elaborate on the Secretary’s longstanding commitment to these issues. She will also attend a session of the Clinton Global Initiative.

On Tuesday, the 25th, she will join the President for his address to the General Assembly and his traditional meetings with UN leadership. Later that day, she will attend a meeting on water security and an event highlighting U.S. assistance to civil society activists around the world. She will also attend the traditional Transatlantic Dinner with our European allies and partners.

On Wednesday, the Secretary will attend an event highlighting the progress on the Millennium Development Goals. She will attend an event emphasizing the shared responsibility for addressing the HIV crisis in Africa, and she will represent the United States at a meeting hosted by Secretary General Ban on the evolving crisis in the Sahel. That afternoon, the Secretary will represent the United States at the UN Security Council session that Germany has called on peace and security in the Middle East.

On Thursday, Secretary Clinton will participate in high-level events on Yemen and Haiti and help ensure continued attention by the global community to these countries. She will also highlight U.S. engagement in Asia and the Pacific at a meeting with foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Friday will largely be dedicated to Middle East issues. The Secretary will host an ad-hoc meeting on Syria to highlight the continuing deterioration of the situation there and to promote transition planning. She will also host the G-8 Deauville Partnership Group and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

These events and others will further – are further opportunities to reiterate our global commitment to rejecting violence in response to speech, promoting tolerance and freedom of expression and protecting people of all faiths, and promoting the rule of law and fundamental security.

On Monday, the first of October, the Secretary will address a ministerial meeting of the Forum of Small States highlighting U.S. global engagement and the need for new coalitions to strengthen global institutions.

As of now, that’s what we can share. Obviously, as we get more details, we’ll pass them on. I’d like to extend special thanks to Toria and her team, who are going to be shouldering the lion’s share of the work on this front now that we’re heading up north to the General Assembly.

Toria, I’ll pass the baton back to you. Thank you, and see you in New York.

PRN: 2012/1482

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