About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.
Today marks one year since the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expired. As Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller outlined in an Op-Ed published last week, U.S. inspectors stand ready to resume their work, but they can only do so after the New START enters into force. U.S. officials have said that it is a national security imperative for the United States to ratify New START this year.
Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also addressed critical security issues at the OSCE Summit in Kazakhstan and the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain. Secretary Clinton traveled to Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Bahrain November 30-December 3. The Secretary underscored the vital role of civil society at forums in Astana, Bishkek, Tashkent, and Manama. During her travel, she also met with President Otunbayeva in Bishkek and U.S. troops at the Manas Transit Center and signed a Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement with Uzbekistan.
The U.S. delegation to COP-16 arrived last week in Mexico, where they will be working with international partners to take another step forward in efforts to address climate change through a balanced package of decisions. At the U.S. Center at COP-16, we learned how U.S. and Indian scientists are working together to reduce carbon emissions as well as how researchers at NASA and NOAA are addressing air pollution and climate change. NASA is also using technology developed for space applications to improve environmental management here on Earth, while the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering ways to make communities more livable and sustainable through greater transportation options. Researchers at the U.S. Forest Service are looking at how the United States can sustain the health, diversity and productivity of America's forests and are also assessing the effects of climate change on fires. And U.S. and international partners are working around the globe to address the threat of climate change to human health.
On December 1, Americans joined people around the world to commemorate World AIDS Day. Secretary Clinton said, "...We take time to remember those who have been lost to this devastating disease, and recommit ourselves to saving as many lives as we can, now and in the future."
To that end, Ambassador Eric Goosby underscored the U.S. commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Reflecting this commitment, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced new results achieved by its efforts to support countries in providing HIV prevention, treatment and care to their people. Among these results, the United States is directly supporting live-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 3.2 million people.
Ambassador Mark Storella announced a new partnership between the United States and Zambia in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Ambassador W. Stuart Symington provided an update on progress being made in Rwanda toward the goals of universal antiretroviral treatment access and elimination of mother-to-child transmission. Health Officer Bryan Schaaf explained how the United States is working with UNHCR to expand HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs for refugees.
In Botswana, Ambassador Stephen Nolan described how hip-hop artists are delivering HIV prevention messages to youth. Meanwhile, activists, actors, health workers and other civil society leaders are using interactive theater, film and pageants to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS in Vietnam.
In Uganda, Ambassador Jerry Lanier joined public quiz shows to deliver the facts about HIV/ AIDS, malaria, nutrition and other health topics, and Ambassador Charles Ray underwent an AIDS test at a clinic in Zimbabwe to encourage young people to "take control of your future, take control of your health, know your status."
Last week, we continued to highlight the "16 Days" Campaign and look at how the international community is addressing gender-based violence. U.S. Embassy Port Moresby participated in a walkathon to draw attention to the issue of violence against women, and U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong held a self-defense seminar for women. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer hosted a panel discussion on what men and boys can do to address and prevent violence against women. You can share your thoughts on the topic here.
Ambassador Verveer also joined Secretary Clinton last week in calling attention to the International Day of Persons With Disabilities. In commemoration of the UN International Volunteer Day, U.S. and Afghan officials recognized the important contributions of community health workers in Afghanistan.
Our photo of the week spoke to the natural beauty of our planet, taking us to the foothills of Paktya Province in Afghanistan. Ambassador David Huebner took us someplace even more unusual: Antarctica, where he met with scientists from the U.S. Antarctic Program. Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer shared with us how the United States is working with UNESCO to promote and preserve natural treasures, such as Papahanaumokuakea in Hawaii. And the State Department hosted an America Recycles Day event, reminding us that each one of us can take steps to help protect our environment.
The United States responded to the wildfires in Israel and continued to provide assistance for flood recovery in Pakistan. Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez described how the United States is promoting entrepreneurship and building innovative, economic partnerships with the countries of North Africa. U.S. Embassy Kabul shared with us other economic news: refrigerated containers are making it possible to ship fresh fruit from Afghanistan to world markets.
In other news, the United States renewed its call for Cuba to release Alan Gross, an international development worker who has been held for a full year by Cuban authorities -- who haven't explained the reasons for his detention or filed charges against him.
Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson spoke about human rights in the context of LGBT issues in Africa, and Under Secretary Maria Otero learned "shang" to connect with young Kenyans.
Young people represent nearly 50 percent of the world's population today and have a major stake in key decisions on global peace and security made at the United Nations, so Ambassador Susan Rice invited those age 21 and younger to tell the UN Security Council about something they believe deserves more attention. The UN Security Council will address the three most compelling issues during a live webcast on December 21.
"I think what the most significant response to what has happened is exactly what Secretary Clinton is doing in Astana, Kazakhstan… She is there working constructively together with other leaders of European nations, nations of the Central Asian states, on cooperation and security in a very important part of the world.
"That is what diplomats lead by Secretary Clinton do every single day. It's what we're going to continue to do every single day.
"Clearly, the release of -- the unauthorized release of these documents represents risk to the United States and to others with whom we collaborate. We are very conscious of the fact that individual cables report on confidential conversations that we have with sources inside governments, inside the civil society, and we are genuinely concerned that the release of these documents without regard to the welfare of individual people does, in fact, put real people and real interests at significant risk.
"...And that is why we condemn what WikiLeaks has done, because these cables are being released without regard to the welfare of individuals around the world who do help us day in and day out interpret events in various countries, understand developments in various regions, and that information helps us in the conduct of the foreign policy of the United States.
"…As Secretary Clinton is demonstrating in Astana, is that we will continue to engage fully with countries. Our interests have not changed; these are mutual interests. ...We'll continue to work constructively along with other countries, allies, friends around the world to try to solve the global challenges that confront our people and the people of the rest of the world."