About the Author: Brian H. Hook serves as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Affairs.
This weekend millions of people will come to Washington to attend the inauguration of President-elect Obama on Tuesday. Here at the State Department, preparations for a smooth and successful transition began long ago, and very soon a new team will assume responsibility for U.S. foreign policy, building upon the hard work and accomplishments of the last eight years. As I look back over my tenure as Assistant Secretary, I am very proud of our record to advance U.S. foreign policy goals at the United Nations and other international organizations.
The world is a much different place than it was when President Bush took the oath of office eight years ago. September 11th changed not only our nation, but the entire international community and the role of the United Nations. In response, President Bush led an unprecedented effort to put the UN on a counterterrorism footing. He did this by changing the architecture of the UN Security Council, which today has three committees focused on preventing terrorist attacks and making it harder for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons. We have also encouraged the UN to address the circumstances under which terrorism and lawlessness thrive, with efforts to address failed and failing states through improved governance, state building, and programs for social and economic development.
Beyond terrorism, we have successfully improved cooperation between our government and the UN on a wide variety of other issues. Global health, for example, where the United States leads the world in addressing the global AIDS pandemic as the largest single donor to the UN Global Fund, and, more significantly, establishing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR, in partnership with UNAIDS, has saved millions of lives, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
We have also improved development assistance, making it more effective. The 2002 Monterrey Consensus, a UN document created with the leadership of this Administration, changed the aid paradigm by emphasizing outcomes rather than inputs. Dollar figure entries into an Excel spreadsheet are no longer the leading indicators of progress in development. Good governance, sound institutions, market-oriented economic policies, and investment friendly climates are the new aid metrics. In November, I traveled with USAID Administrator Fore to Doha to reaffirm the principles of Monterrey, setting in place a solid foundation for the future of international development.
As I conclude my service at the State Department this week, I am proud of the fact that we challenged the United Nations to undertake difficult things, to live up to the high ideals of its Charter. The UN has faced many challenges to peace and security in recent years—Iran, al-Qaeda, Darfur, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Burma, Hamas, and Hezbollah—and we have consistently led efforts to address them early, decisively and collectively. The United States has never been more meaningfully and substantively engaged with its multilateral partners.
It has been a privilege to serve our President at the State Department, and I wish the next President every success as he prepares to lead our great nation.