DipNote: The Week in Review

Posted by Luke Forgerson
September 27, 2010

About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.

Today, we introduce a new feature on DipNote: a synopsis of entries posted during the previous week. This past week, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined leaders from around the world for an annual meeting at the United Nations, an "institution built from the rubble of war, designed to unite the world in pursuit of peace."

To that end, we saw American diplomats engaged on a broad range of issues at this year's United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Secretary Clinton joined partners in signing two Memoranda of Understanding on Haiti recovery projects. Ambassador Ivo Daalder provided a read-out of the Secretary's participation in the NATO Russia Council meeting.

With Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin, Secretary Clinton hosted the “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future” event to address a far-reaching issue that steals the potential of 200 million children around the world: under-nutrition.

Secretary Clinton announced the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership which aims to eliminate the nearly 2 million premature deaths a year from smoke-related diseases caused by old and polluting stoves and open-fire cooking.

Public-private partnerships were also a central focus of Special Representative Farah Pandith's update on an initiative inspired by President Obama's June 2009 Cairo speech. Secretary Clinton spoke about a partnership among USAID, U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Inter-American Development Bank to bring people -- many them women, rural farmers, small business owners, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities -- into the financial system.

In remarks before the United Nations, President Obama described the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a set of "concrete goals to free our fellow men, women and children from the injustice of extreme poverty." The President announced the new U.S. Global Development Policy -- the first of its kind by an American administration. For a quick primer on the MDGs, click here; for the U.S. strategy in meeting the goals, click here.

We heard from several others this week about the MDGs, including Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer, who discussed the President's new development strategy during a digital conversation at a fully-wired gathering spot for journalists, NGO representatives, and bloggers at the 92nd Street Y. Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez wrote about how U.S. research and innovation is helping countries to meet their food security needs, improve the environment, and increase rural incomes. Senior Advisor Jack Bobo wrote about biotechnology's ability to increase agricultural productivity and farmer incomes while reducing the negative impact of agriculture on the environment. And Daniel Garrett, a program officer, addressed the fact that access to safe drinking water and sanitation is key to meeting the MDGs. At UNGA, Under Secretary Maria Otero joined a high-level group of leaders to focus attention on this critical issue.

We are seeing the urgency of access to clean drinking water in Pakistan, where flooding has left millions without it, and the threat of widespread waterborne disease outbreak is mounting. This week, the United States announced a $2 million effort to provide water purification kits to Pakistan flood victims.

U.S Embassy Islamabad Assistant Information Officer Courtney Beale, who will be blogging regularly for DipNote in the months ahead, described Ambassador Holbrooke's recent visit to Pakistan to review U.S. humanitarian assistance. At a ministerial meeting on Pakistan at the United Nations, Secretary Clinton underscored the U.S. commitment and described U.S. relief efforts, which total approximately $345 million.

President Obama participated in a high-level meeting on Sudan, and U.S. officials met with members of Zimbabwe's coalition government. The United Nations Security Council Summit hosted a meeting on peacekeeping this week, at which Secretary Clinton praised the "dedicated men and women who work under the blue flag in troubled lands very far from their homes." She also noted the need for improvement -- for "clear, credible and achievable mandates for all UN missions," which prompted DipNote Bloggers to ask: "With these criteria in mind, where should the UN focus its peacekeeping resources, and why?"

Rounding out the Ministerial meetings, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer took part in a meeting co-hosted by the Foreign Ministers of Denmark and Ghana on "Fulfilling the Responsibility to Protect." The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is an emerging international norm that outlines a state's responsibility to protect its citizens from genocide and other crimes against humanity, and the international community's responsibility to intervene when a state is unable or unwilling to do so.

And while we all remained focused on UNGA, our colleagues in Seoul took time out to join their Korean counterparts in celebrating the Chuseok festival, and the DipNote team marked the blog's third birthday.

For anyone interested in a career in foreign affairs, this week offered an overview of the broad scope of issues an American diplomat might address. Diplomat-in-training Erica King described working at the State Department as a "career opportunity of a lifetime." I couldn't agree with her more, and look forward to another full week ahead.



September 27, 2010

Edward in Indonesia writes:

I believe there is still lots of food wasted because of overproduction or cartels, plus still lots of good hearts who will substantially support under nourished children of the world. I believe its not about the quantity of supply and support but how to reduce the bureaucracy of the UN & other organizations, and of course the corruption in the distribution chain. There are enough bright minds to solve the cycle time problem. but it must be first in the agenda.

So its the bureaucracy and the corruption in the distribution that must have focus. The trust of donors will automatically increase if there is proof of cycle time improvement.

Donald M.
Virginia, USA
September 27, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

As a United States Veteran, and one who has been in Iraq, deployed on two us warships, I also supported the Southern Watch in Saudi Arabia, "Peace Shield" after hearing we lost the crew of the helicopter in Afghanistan, we should all say something to remember our fallen and I believe the State Department should add a picture and some kind words, these guys who place their lives on the line to protect our freedom should be in the History of the State Department BLOG under Heros. I personally don't believe were doing enough to make helicopters safe for combat. If the Pentagon reviews its letters, and notes, I have written their office on many accounts to make valid safety changes to give our forces a cutting edge to survive the attacks but it falls on deaf ears. The Emergency Escape POD can be introduced in the helicopters to make our men and women safer. Everyone says it would cost too much, but what is the cost when we lose our men and women to accidents, mechanical failures, shoot downs, when they could be better protected from the enemy and survive the attack. I am outraged that the FAA/ Pentagon continue using the old methods to provide safety of our people, when they know changes could be made to help save our forces on the battlefield. The concept is every man and woman is in its own personal vehicle inside the helicopter. If a missile or rocket, or even AK/47 rounds hit the chopper the pods or remote vehicles depart the craft with parachutes. Giving our troops a better survivability chance. A salute to our troops and hopefully the Pentagon will listen before we have more losses on the ground. Mr. Robert Gates can call me directly to discuss my ideas, especially when it would save lives. I would also give a demonstration of my idea to those who care about saving lives.

New York, USA
September 27, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

1000 ways.....

If eqitable employment, housing, education and healthcare were available to the poor, they could live in dignity and build the bridges, design the cars, and help create new pathways into this New Millennium.

There are 1000 ways to change the paradigm in 1000 days.

New York, USA
September 27, 2010

Ole in New York writes:

Madame Secretary, i'd like to note this: while it's extremely commendable that Russian president Medvedev has made decision to not sell anti-missile systems to Iran, it need not be forgotten that he simultaneously sanctioned sale of similar weapons to Syria, which is Iran's main regional rival, who could easily pass them on to Tehran. let's not take our guard off of this situation, and not rush prematurely into rewarding Kremlin with things such as ratification of the START treaty, acceptance of Russia into WTO or non-visa regime for travel into EU


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