U.S. Record at the UN: Looking Back at the Last Eight Years

Posted by Brian H. Hook
January 15, 2009
Secretary Rice and Assistant Secretary Hook at the United Nations

About the Author: Brian H. Hook serves as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Affairs.

This weekend millions of people will come to Washington to attend the inauguration of President-elect Obama on Tuesday. Here at the State Department, preparations for a smooth and successful transition began long ago, and very soon a new team will assume responsibility for U.S. foreign policy, building upon the hard work and accomplishments of the last eight years. As I look back over my tenure as Assistant Secretary, I am very proud of our record to advance U.S. foreign policy goals at the United Nations and other international organizations.

The world is a much different place than it was when President Bush took the oath of office eight years ago. September 11th changed not only our nation, but the entire international community and the role of the United Nations. In response, President Bush led an unprecedented effort to put the UN on a counterterrorism footing. He did this by changing the architecture of the UN Security Council, which today has three committees focused on preventing terrorist attacks and making it harder for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons. We have also encouraged the UN to address the circumstances under which terrorism and lawlessness thrive, with efforts to address failed and failing states through improved governance, state building, and programs for social and economic development.

Beyond terrorism, we have successfully improved cooperation between our government and the UN on a wide variety of other issues. Global health, for example, where the United States leads the world in addressing the global AIDS pandemic as the largest single donor to the UN Global Fund, and, more significantly, establishing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR, in partnership with UNAIDS, has saved millions of lives, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

We have also improved development assistance, making it more effective. The 2002 Monterrey Consensus, a UN document created with the leadership of this Administration, changed the aid paradigm by emphasizing outcomes rather than inputs. Dollar figure entries into an Excel spreadsheet are no longer the leading indicators of progress in development. Good governance, sound institutions, market-oriented economic policies, and investment friendly climates are the new aid metrics. In November, I traveled with USAID Administrator Fore to Doha to reaffirm the principles of Monterrey, setting in place a solid foundation for the future of international development.

As I conclude my service at the State Department this week, I am proud of the fact that we challenged the United Nations to undertake difficult things, to live up to the high ideals of its Charter. The UN has faced many challenges to peace and security in recent years—Iran, al-Qaeda, Darfur, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Burma, Hamas, and Hezbollah—and we have consistently led efforts to address them early, decisively and collectively. The United States has never been more meaningfully and substantively engaged with its multilateral partners.

It has been a privilege to serve our President at the State Department, and I wish the next President every success as he prepares to lead our great nation.



Tennessee, USA
January 15, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

What is written is Truth as it exists: The UN prior to this Administration was considered secondary in decision making and did not take on ANY Conflict issues until it seemed to be international News. Give Ms Rice and President Bush some credit...heck a lot of credit.

Even now; while I may be in agreement with Israel on elimination of Hamas, the UN would have not reacted as quickly. The UN would have waited until there was a primary push from another major power to interject itself. Now we have decision making taking place on multiple levels and more instantaneously than prior to 9-11. From famine and health issues to genocide, the reaction time is quicker and more organized.

The UN has more direction, more Power and a more dynamic and consolidated Authority today; which was the purpose to begin with -- the United Nations was the Living Bible of all faiths for Mankind -- to keep the world at Peace and continue the development of human rights and dignity for all peoples.

It is obvious the new United States leadership will continue Americas goal of human rights for all people worldwide. Mrs. Clinton is well known for her compassion and leadership skills as well as President Elect Obama...

God Bless America and may God bless this world....for all.

Syrian P.
January 15, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

U.S record at the U.N. the last 60 years is shamefully un-American, but the record in the past eight years is nothing short of sadistically criminal, and that befitting a criminal Organization such as the U.N.

New Mexico, USA
January 16, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Mr. Assistant Secretary,

Folks compare dealing with issues in Congress like "herding cats" I've been told. In the UN's case, it seems to me to be like herding the entire zoo.

UN reform may still be riding on the back of a snail in terms of progress made overall, but you and the good folks as USUN have given it legs due in no small part to a certain Texan often accused of "Cowboy Diplomacy".

Well Brian, as anyone West of the Pecos will tell you, the job description entails the mending of fences and leading the herd to greener pastures, and is fully dependant on the strength and temperament of the horse ridden.

I've been watching the group therapy sessions for this dysfunctional family of nations that occures regularly in the Security Council and committee for the last 8 years, and I do believe the efforts are showing the promise of potential in that the UN can indeed prove to be greater than the sum of its parts.

Now if only state sponsors of terror in the UN were to be doing the "thorazene shuffle" out the door sans membership, the rest of humanity could dance a jig.

The ideological struggle with extremism is a tag team match in my opinion, and if I may be so bold to suggest this, a lot of folks have "tagged up" prior, and it's the same on the international stage....change is inevitable.....peacefull change is desirable.....and democracy R US, sayeth the people.

We've been fortunate as a nation to have a Commander in Chief with the presence of mind to understand that we don't want to give terrorists the war they want nor expect....on their terms. We give them the war they are neither prepared for nor able to fight...on our's.

A President with the guts to stand with both feet firmly on principal and with compassion for the human condition.

A word of thanks is due.

Godspeed and good luck in your next endeavor sir. Please pass my best regards on to Ambassadors and staff alike.



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