Today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in Tanzania, the third visit of a trip that also includes stops in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Zambia, and Ethiopia. During her travel to the U.A.E., Secretary Clinton participated in a meeting of the Libya Contact Group, where she said:
"...Our coalition remains united and committed. We reaffirmed there is only one way forward for Libya, attacks against civilians must stop, Qadhafi must go, and the Libyan people deserve to determine their own future. We continued our ongoing dialogue about steps we can take to protect the Libyan people, pressure Qadhafi to hasten his departure, and lay the groundwork for a successful transition to a unified, democratic, Libya. On each of these goals, we are making progress and we have increased the pressure on Qadhafi. But as long as he continues his attacks on his own people, our military mission to protect them will continue."
In Zambia, Secretary Clinton visited Lusaka's University Teaching Hospital Paediatric Centre of Excellence, met with participants in the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), and celebrated the launch of the U.S.-Zambia Chamber of Commerce. The Secretary also addressed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, the only annual U.S. government ministerial meeting with Sub-Saharan Africa.
AGOA was signed into law in 2000 as part of the U.S. Trade and Development Act, and offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets. It provides a framework for government-to-government, private sector, and civil society to work together to build trade capacity and to expand business linkages between the United States and Africa.
The 2011 AGOA Forum brought together over 1,600 participants, including senior government officials, as well as and private sector and civil society representatives. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk attended the Forum, where he announced a U.S. commitment of up to $30 million per year for four years to support trade expansion in Africa. U.S. Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future Julie Howard, who accompanied USTR Kirk, participated to address food security issues.
In her remarks at the AGOA Forum, Secretary Clinton addressed a wide-ranging agenda for strengthening the business environment in Africa and focused on two groups of entrepreneurs, young people, and women. Secretary Clinton said:
"...This year, for the first time, a group of young entrepreneurs is joining us, and I want to welcome them and tell them how much we need their energy and their ideas. You really are the future. People say that all the time. It happens to be true. You have the biggest stake in our success here. What you do will largely determine Africa's economic growth curve. ...By 2025, which is not that far away now, one in every four young people in the world will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, that fact alone has profound and far-reaching implications for Africa's future. We have been seeing what happens when young people feel their governments do not meet their needs. Across the Middle East and North Africa, the Arab Spring is being led by young people, young people in Tunisia, in Egypt, and across the region are demanding not just more democracy but more economic opportunity. They say, look, we've studied, I'm willing to work hard, and yet there's nothing for me here. Creating opportunity and protecting freedoms for young people deserves our urgent attention."
Advancing opportunities for young people and women was at the center of several other initiatives over the last week. Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats addressed recent efforts to foster the talents of young people in the Middle East and North Africa, while Ambassador David T. Killion spotlighted UNESCO initiatives to advance educational opportunities for women and girls. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)-funded projects are providing new economic opportunities for women in the South Pacific, while U.S. Consulate employees are joining young people in Hong Kong to promote conservation and sustainability. In Vancouver, over 8,000 gathered at the Association of International Educators' 63rd annual NAFSA conference to identify new trends in international education and advance study abroad opportunities.
The Tech@State team hosted a conference in Washington to examine how "serious games" can unlock human potential through play. Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton unveiled the Women's World Cup Initiative, a program that seeks to empower women and girls through soccer. Demonstrating the opportunities sports diplomacy presents, the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua's week-long soccer clinic captivated the attention of 50 coaches and nearly 500 boys and girls. The Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues shared how the Small Grants Initiative program is making a great impact in changing girls' and women's lives in Nicaragua, Suriname, and Belize.
Maternal and child health was at the forefront of discussions at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDs in New York. Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, reflected on progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2002, fewer than 50,000 people had access to treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, launched in 2003, now supports treatment for over 3.2 million people, the vast majority of whom live in Africa. PEPFAR also supports over 3.8 million orphans and vulnerable children, giving them a chance at education, nutrition, and a better life. In New York, Ambassador Goosby also announced a bold new plan to eliminate pediatric HIV transmission.
In other news, President Barack Obama hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel for an official visit and State Dinner at the White House. Secretary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden hosted Chancellor Merkel at the State Department, and President Obama honored Chancellor Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. President Obama said, "...We honor Angela Merkel not for being denied her freedom, or even for attaining her freedom, but for what she achieved when she gained her freedom. Determined to finally have her say, she entered politics -- rising to become the first East German to lead a united Germany, the first woman chancellor in German history, and an eloquent voice for human rights and dignity around the world."
In Washington, Secretary Clinton convened the Partners for a New Beginning Summit to broaden and deepen engagement between the United States and international Muslim communities by building public-private partnerships that advance economic opportunity, science and technology, education, and exchange. Secretary Clinton also met with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe at the Department of State, where they discussed events in the Middle East, North Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, and Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, a group of Americans from the U.S. West recently traveled to Ghor and Kabul to share their horse culture and music with Afghan chapandaz and students. During the last decade, Afghanistan has made dramatic development achievements. The U.S. Agency for International Development's J. Alexander Thier wrote, "Access to basic health services has rocketed from nine percent to 64 percent. Under the Taliban, only 900,000 boys and almost no girls were enrolled in schools, while today, more than seven million children are enrolled in schools, 35 percent of whom are girls. Afghanistan has averaged 10 percent per year economic growth, is using a single, stable currency, and government revenues have grown to $1.65 billion, with a 400 percent increase in customs revenues since 2006 alone. With gross domestic product (GDP) per capita doubling since 2002, some five million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty."
On June 5-7, 2011, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns led the U.S. delegation to the 41st Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in El Salvador. Under Secretary Burns welcomed the reintegration of Honduras in the OAS.
On June 7-8, 2011, the U.S. Department of State joined Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai, and Limelight Networks and other major organizations in offering their content over IPv6. Internet Protocol (IP) is the set of rules computers use to transmit data over the Internet. The existing protocol supporting the Internet today -- Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) -- provides the world with only 4 billion IP addresses, inherently limiting the number of devices that can be given a unique, globally routable location on the Internet. IPv6 provides the world with an almost unlimited number of available IP addresses, as well as significantly enhanced mobility features. The goal of this “test date” was to motivate organizations across the industry to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out. With the expected success of this test, the State Department will be well-placed to make the permanent transition to IPv6 in 2012.
On June 14, 2011, you can join Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz and George Rupp, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, for a discussion on helping the world's refugees. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the compelling and heartfelt stories of State Department employees who were once refugees themselves. Adela Levis, Martina Strong, and Dara Yin recount how their experiences inspired their lives of public service. We are grateful to them for their service, and will be sharing more stories from other former refugees in the coming days. In the meantime, we thank our readers for your comments and feedback, and look forward to hearing from you in the week ahead.