Did you miss key foreign policy developments this week? We’ve got you covered. Each week, DipNote recaps the latest U.S. Department of State highlights spanning a wide range of global issues, events, and initiatives in one blog post.
Here are the highlights from This Week at State:
Secretary Tillerson Hosts Community of Democracies Ministerial
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted the Ninth Community of Democracies Governing Ministerial at the Department of State on September 15. In his opening remarks, Secretary Tillerson highlighted the importance of the event at a time when “democratic nations and peoples are under threat.”
While mentioning challenges to democracy from North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Russia, Secretary Tillerson emphasized, “At a time of growing efforts to undermine democracy, it is all the more critical that we work together to bolster and promote this form of governance. So despite the challenges of our day, now is not the time to step back from our democratic commitments. Now is the time to strengthen and sustain them.”
United States Reacts to North Korea Missile Launch; Supports ‘Strongest Sanctions Ever Imposed’ on North Korea
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a press statement on September 14 following North Korea’s missile launch, calling the launch a provocation that “only deepens North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation.” Secretary Tillerson called on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime. He added, “China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor. China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own."
During a press availability following meetings in London on September 14, Secretary Tillerson emphasized the need to “send a very strong message to North Korea and the regime in North Korea that their efforts to advance their nuclear weapons programs and the threatening posture that they have taken is not acceptable to any member of the international community.”
In remarks following the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2375 which strengthens sanctions on North Korea, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley spoke about the importance of the new sanctions, calling them the “deepest cutting sanctions ever leveled against North Korea,” and resulting in the ban of over 90 percent of North Korea’s publicly reported exports.
On September 12, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton testified before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she outlined the Department of State’s North Korea strategy.
State Department and USAID Respond to Hurricane Irma
During the Department’s Press Briefing on September 12, Spokesperson Heather Nauert outlined the United States Government’s response to the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Jose in the Caribbean. Spokesperson Nauert highlighted USAID’s disaster response in St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Bahamas. She also noted "since September 8, more than 2,000 individuals have been evacuated from Sint Maarten, including more than 300 people evacuated by Royal Caribbean cruise line and 1,700 by U.S. military air transport.”
During a press availability on September 15 following meetings in London, Secretary Tillerson highlighted the “extraordinary” American, British and French cooperation in response to Hurricane Irma.
U.S. citizens who are overseas and in need of assistance in areas affected by Hurricane Irma should consult the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Hurricanes Irma and Jose page.
Secretary Tillerson Travels to London for Meetings on Libya and North Korea
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to London to participate in U.K.-hosted meetings on Libya and North Korea. During a press availability following the meetings, Secretary Tillerson stressed the United States’ goal is to find a way forward in Libya that creates stability and reconciliation, and that restores Libya under a functioning government.
“We are all committed to helping the Libyans find the Libyan solution that will lead to their future.”
– Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
United States Awards $25 Million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery
On September 14, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced a groundbreaking $25 million award to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, a nonprofit § 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to create a public-private partnership to expand resources and develop strategies to reduce the prevalence of modern slavery – also known as human trafficking.
Secretary Tillerson Honors Victims of September 11 Terror Attacks
In a statement released on September 11, Secretary Tillerson remembered the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, as well as the heroes who saved many lives that day. He also mentioned the victims of the Benghazi, Libya terror attack which included two State Department colleagues.
“Our hearts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones to terrorism. We remain committed to stopping those extremists who plot, enable, and carry out attacks on the innocent.”
– Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Deputy Secretary Hosts Signing of Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact with Nepal
On September 14, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Acting CEO Jonathan Nash welcomed Nepali Minister of Finance Gyanendra Bahadur Karki to the U.S. Department of State for the signing of a new $500 million MCC compact with Nepal. The compact will tackle two of Nepal’s greatest constraints to economic growth: low energy supply and high transportation costs. In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Sullivan called the signing “an important milestone” as “MCC’s first compact in South Asia.” He also highlighted the Government of Nepal’s $130 million contribution to the compact, calling it “a real testament to Nepal’s commitment to this partnership.”
Department of State Addresses Humanitarian Crisis in Burma
During a press availability following meetings in London on September 14, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on the humanitarian crisis in Burma.
“It is important that the global community speak out in support of what we all know the expectation is towards the treatment of people, regardless of their ethnicity, and that we must – this violence must stop; this persecution must stop. It’s been characterized by many as ethnic cleansing. That must stop.”
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
In a special briefing on September 8, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma Patrick Murphy addressed the situation in the Rakhine State of Burma. Deputy Assistant Secretary Murphy emphasized the importance of restoring humanitarian assistance and urged “all parties to take steps to calm tensions.” He also highlighted the ongoing conversations with the Government of Burma and with neighboring states.
Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert followed with a press statement on September 9 expressing the United States’ concern regarding the United Nations September 8 announcement that an estimated 270,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25. Spokesperson Nauert emphasized the United States’ close coordination with international partners to provide emergency assistance and applauded the government of Bangladesh’s generosity in responding to this humanitarian crisis.
Department of State Releases 2017 Fiscal Transparency Report
The Department of State released its 2017 Fiscal Transparency Report on September 12. In the report, the Department concluded that 73 of 141 governments reviewed met minimum requirements of fiscal transparency. The report identified eleven governments found not to meet minimum requirements, but which had made significant progress toward meeting minimum requirements. The report also emphasized the importance of fiscal transparency. Read about four common myths regarding fiscal transparency in this DipNote entry.
United States Previews U.S. Engagement at the United Nations General Assembly
Next week, leaders from around the world will gather in New York City for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) high-level week. The United States has five overarching priorities for our engagement at UNGA this year. As Spokesperson Nauert outlined, “The first is taking bold steps on UN reform; the second, broadening multilateral and counterterrorism efforts to defeat ISIS and other terror organizations; humanitarian assistance, in particular for refugees and the communities that host them; de-escalating the Syrian conflict; and finally, addressing the threat to global peace and security posed by North Korea.”
Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.com