About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.
Last week, we celebrated the New Year and took the opportunity to reflect on the year behind us as well as the one ahead of us. Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela looked back at the events and issues that shaped the Americas in 2010. Secretary Clinton began her 2011 in South America, where she attended the inauguration of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on January 1.
Secretary Clinton also met with Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Seiji Maehara, and we at DipNote looked back at the year marking one hundred years of U.S. engagement in the East Asia and Pacific region. Assistant Secretary Robert Blake discussed how the United States is advancing partnerships in South and Central Asia, including in agriculture and infrastructure.
Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman underscored U.S. commitment towards peace and prosperity in the Middle East. This week, Secretary Clinton travels to the region, with stops in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.
In other year-end reviews, Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher wrote about efforts to reduce global nuclear dangers and improve U.S. security, while Ambassador Luis CdeBaca addressed efforts to end human trafficking. Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz discussed the ways in which we're protecting the world's most vulnerable populations: refugees. Senior Advisor Cindy Huang told us how the United States is partnering to fight global hunger and undernutrition, and Ambassador Eric Goosby gave examples of how we're advancing global health and saving lives through smart investments. Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez shared with us his New Year's resolutions, including a focus on economic growth and security in 2011.
As this year begins, we look to Sudan, where polling for the Southern Sudan referendum started today. In an Op-Ed for The New York Times, President Obama said that the referendum will have "consequences not only for Sudan, but also for sub-Saharan Africa and the world." U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration discussed the expectations for, as well as implications of, the referendum, which stems from the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Stabilization teams have been supporting the referendum process, and grassroots programs have been fostering peace-building one community at a time in Sudan. For a quarter-century, the United States has been both a leading humanitarian aid donor and a diplomatic partner in international efforts to bring peace -- including through conventional weapons destruction programs -- to Sudan.
This week, as we continue to look toward Sudan's future, we also look back at one of the most significant events to occur in 2010. Last week, State Department Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah held a press briefing in advance of the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti.
Ms. Mills said, "...One of the things I think everyone always assumed about Haiti was that one day it would leave the front page and it wouldn't be an enduring story of interest and an enduring opportunity for ways in which we think about, as a world community, we support others. And I think one of the things that the media has done a good job of, and certainly that many of the partners around the world, in addition to the people in Haiti, have done a good job of is continue to stay focused on the job that needs to be done in Haiti, and the job is still enormous."
Administrator Shah said, "...While we have examples that keep us incredibly hopeful, we also know the road forward will be challenging. And we remain committed to the principles we outlined at the beginning of this response -- that we will be good partners with the people and government of Haiti, that we will prioritize efforts to build local capacity and local institutions, and that we will continue to focus on this effort over the long term because we know that that's the most appropriate embodiment of the relationship we have with the people of Haiti."
Our photo of the week is a snapshot of one moment in our relationship with the people of Haiti. USAID's Kendra Helmer captured the joy attached to Josette Colin's return to her earthquake-damaged home in Port-au-Prince after USAID-funded Pan American Development Foundation teams made it habitable again. USAID's efforts in Haiti were just one of the many initiatives the organization undertook in 2010; you can learn more about USAID in 2010 here.
Last week, many of you submitted questions for a "Conversations With America" webcast with Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter and USAID Administrator Donald Steinberg, who discussed the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. If you missed the webcast, you can watch the video and see the questions submitted for the discussion here. Assistant Secretary Ann Stock also participated in a webcast last week, during which she spoke about cultural diplomacy to the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
This week, we're bringing you another webcast. Haiti Special Coordinator Thomas Adams and InterAction President & CEO Sam Worthington will take your questions about Haiti during a live-stream of "Conversations With America" at 10:30 a.m. EST tomorrow, Monday, January 10, 2011. If you're reading this before Monday morning, it isn't too late to submit your questions -- you can do so here.