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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at the U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy

Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs 
Washington, DC
November 18, 2010


Good Morning. Thank you very much, Lt. Governor Lawton, for arranging this roundtable and inviting me to participate with so many distinguished panelists. Your reputation as a very active supporter of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program is well earned. Under your leadership, the Wisconsin–Nicaragua partnership has really blossomed into one of the finest examples of an SPP. Additionally I am happy to be here with my colleagues from the National Guard Bureau and to be working with A/S Secretary Shapiro and South Central Europe Director Jennifer Brush who is here with us today.

I am grateful for this opportunity to share with you, in my role as Secretary Clinton’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, some of the Department of State’s efforts to use “smart power” to achieve the Administration’s foreign policy objectives.

Smart Power uses all the tools—and all our partnerships—to serve the nation’s interests. We know that in this shared and interconnected world, relationships between foreign governments are important—but so are partnerships between state and local officials and individual citizens that would keep us grounded with the needs and aspirations of our joint communities.

To achieve these ends of engagement and partnership, Secretary Clinton created the office of S/SRGIA to build on existing forms of sub-national engagement and develop new opportunities from existing dialogues. As a result, we are seeking, in the State Department, to build partnerships that will allow Governors, mayors, legislators, and local officials to exchange ideas globally.

In this respect, the National Guard’s State Partnership Program has proved to be one of the best examples of sub-national engagement. The SPP has become an essential tool used by our Ambassadors and embassies overseas to achieve their goals.

Over the years, through the SPP, there have been numerous successful military and National Guard engagements and activities, including joint training exercises, disaster management cooperation, and joint deployments, all of which contribute to meeting the objectives of the Defense Department’s combatant commands, and our embassies.

At the Lieutenant Governor’s request, the State Department conducted a survey last month of the State Partnership Program (SPP) with our embassies. When asked, for example, if they thought the SPP is valuable in helping to meet their goals and objectives, 34 out of 45 embassies strongly agreed, and another 10 agreed with that statement.

They provided numerous examples of successes of which I will discuss two examples. One example is with Nigeria, whose military shares a strong relationship with the California National Guard through the SPP. With its expertise in ports and border security, the California National Guard has helped Nigeria improve security around national points of entry, particularly at its ocean ports and borders. The California National Guard has a similar program with Ukraine.

Similar to California’s SPPs, North Carolina has an outstanding SPP with Botswana. I have had the privilege to meet with Botswanan Ambassador Lekoa personally about areas of engagement and partnership between our nations, including through the SPP. As a result of an SPP summit North Carolina and Botswana held last year, the North Carolina National Guard held a disaster consequence management workshop with members of the Botswana Defense Forces and several civil agencies in March 2010. The training session was hugely successful, and the partnerships and deep bonds established through that act of Citizen Diplomacy will be long lasting.

Overall, the Department of State strongly supports the SPP as a powerful vehicle for sub-national exchange that, throughout the years, has been incredibly successful and durable. As is the case with California and North Carolina, sometimes the personal relationships that are created through the SPP can have a stronger, more intimate connection than those we establish at the national diplomatic level.

The examples I provided and the numerous anecdotes told by our embassies illustrate how networks of state and local leaders can help the Department of State establish durable foreign partnerships by anchoring intergovernmental relationships at the sub-national level.

Ultimately, by working through these various types of partnerships and acting in a collective, concerted manner, we enhance what we can achieve toward our shared goals, while also promoting the strategic interests of our Nation, states, and cities together – including on Secretary Clinton’s priorities on climate change, global health, and food security.

Thank you for inviting me to share my perspectives with you today.

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