For one week every year, United Nations headquarters in New York City takes center stage in world events as the UN's General Assembly (also known as UNGA) opens and leaders from around the world meet to address the pressing issues of the day.
For diplomats, this is like the World Series, the World Cup, and the Olympics all in one. It's as exhausting as it is thrilling and hopefully, after months and months of intense preparation, we will be able to make a real difference in the days ahead.
The United States is excited to play an important role in UNGA. When President Obama took office in 2009, he vowed to lead the United States back to the multilateral table. One way to do this is by successfully engaging in the international community whenever possible, including, and most especially, right here in the United Nations.
So, not only will President Obama be speaking, but Secretary Clinton, several cabinet secretaries and many State Department officials will also be in attendance. We will engage in as many of the official functions as possible as well as joining a number of private meetings on topics ranging from Haiti, Libya, and the Horn of Africa, to women in politics and agricultural development.
For me, as Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, UNGA is a unique opportunity to advance not only U.S. interests, but also the interests of women around the world whose voices remain unheard or the victims of diseases, such as cancer or diabetes. I am also able to build and expand my relationships with my counterparts in other countries so that if and when problems arise, I am already in a position to pick up a phone and reach out to a friend, not just a professional contact.
Obviously this will be a busy week but when we finally surface for air I expect that we will be extremely proud of our work here, just as we are proud of all of our efforts to map out more robust international and multilateral engagements.