This Week at State: November 24, 2017

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This Week at State: November 24, 2017

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:

United States Condemns the Attack in Egypt

The United States condemned the November 24 attack that killed and wounded scores of worshippers at a mosque in Egypt. 

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said, “This terror attack on those at prayer is an unconscionable act of evil. We offer our condolences to the families and friends of the victims and wish those injured a quick recovery. We will continue to stand with Egypt and the Egyptian people as they face the scourge of terrorism.” 

United States Designates North Korea a State Sponsor of Terrorism

Following a cabinet meeting convened by President Trump at the White House on November 20, Secretary Tillerson delivered remarks to members of the press. During this briefing Secretary Tillerson commented on President Trump’s decision to designate North Korea as a State sponsor of Terrorism. The Secretary noted the United States’ decision is an effort to increase pressure on North Korea and hold them accountable for their destabilizing actions over the last months and year.

Following this designation, on November 21, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned one individual, 13 entities, and 20 vessels as the United States continues to take action multilaterally and unilaterally to disrupt North Korea's illicit funding of its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs. These sanctions target third-country persons with long-standing commercial ties to North Korea, as well as the transportation networks that facilitate North Korea's revenue generation and operations. 

Secretary Tillerson Calls Situation in Northern Rakhine State "Ethnic Cleansing"

In a statement released on November 22, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the situation in Northern Rakhine State in Burma as ethnic cleansing.

“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. Those responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable.”

Secretary Tillerson also emphasized the United States’ continued support for humanitarian assistance in the region, saying, “Our first priority is to relieve the intolerable suffering faced by so many.” The Secretary also supported the Burmese and Bangladeshi governments’ efforts to “create the conditions necessary for all refugees and internally displaced people to return to their homes safely and voluntarily,” and reaffirmed the United States’ strong commitment to Burma’s successful democratic transition.

Additional information about can be found in this November 22 background policy briefing.

United States Addresses the Situation in Zimbabwe

Secretary Tillerson released a press statement, on November 21, addressing the historic moment in Zimbabwe. 

“With the resignation of Robert Mugabe, today marks an historic moment for Zimbabwe. We congratulate all Zimbabweans who raised their voices and stated peacefully and clearly that the time for change was overdue. Zimbabwe has an extraordinary opportunity to set itself on a new path. The United States strongly supports a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Zimbabwe. As events unfold, we continue to call on all parties to exercise restraint and respect constitutional and civilian order.”
-- Secretary Tillerson’s Press Statement on An Historic Moment in Zimbabwe

United States Comments on Terrorist Attack in Nigeria

State Department Spokesperson Nauert released a statement on November 21 condemning the terrorist attack in Mubi Adamawa State and extending condolences to the families and victims killed in the attack.

“That the victims were targeted and killed in a place of worship demonstrates yet again the brutal nature of the terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten the peace and security of Nigerian citizens. Such ruthless attacks on innocent civilians only serve to strengthen our resolve towards meeting these threats in cooperation with our Nigerian and regional partners.”
- State Department Spokesperson Nauert

Ambassador Haley Discusses U.S. Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking in Conflict Situations

Following the Adoption of Resolution 2388 on Trafficking of Persons in Conflict Situations, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered remarks at a United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. 

On November 21, Ambassador Haley cited several examples of vast human displacement due to ongoing conflicts and dire economic need in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and drew attention to the destructive impact human trafficking has both on individuals and also its consequences beyond its immediate victims. “The United States continues to combat trafficking in persons by focusing our efforts on prevention, protection, and prosecution,” she said.

State Department Comments on the Release of Hafiz Saeed

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert conveyed in a November 24 statement the United States’ deep concern that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed has been released from house arrest in Pakistan. The Spokesperson’s statement underscored, “LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens. The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes.”

Secretary Tillerson Meets with Foreign Ministers from Colombia, Qatar, and Peru at the State Department

Secretary Tillerson hosted a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from various nations at the U.S. Department of State this week. On November 20, Secretary Tillerson held meetings with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani

Deputy Secretary Sullivan Visits Nigeria

Deputy Secretary Sullivan traveled to Abuja, where he led the U.S. interagency delegation to the Bi-National Commission, hosted by Foreign Minister Onyeama. In November 20 remarks at the Bi-national Commission, the Deputy Secretary stressed the United States’ desire to build on a foundation of cooperation and find new areas of collaboration, particularly in the areas of security cooperation, economic growth and development, and democracy and governance. “These three issues – security, development, and governance – are interconnected. We cannot afford to consider them in a vacuum; they each affect the other,” he stated.

The Deputy Secretary also reaffirmed that the United States is a partner to Nigeria as it faces the threat of violent extremist groups like Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa. Deputy Secretary Sullivan urged, “We are committed to helping the Nigerian people provide their own security.” 

Deputy Secretary Sullivan announced that the United States, through USAID, will contribute an additional $45.5 million to support stabilization and early recovery efforts to help those who have been affected by violence in the Northeast begin to rebuild their lives.

State Department Releases  FY 2017 Fiscal Transparency Report

This week, the Department released the Agency Financial Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The report provides an overview of the Department’s financial and performance data to help Congress, the President, and the public assess our stewardship over the resources entrusted to us.

“While Americans welcome this rededication to liberty, security, and prosperity, this new leadership is incomplete without accountability. If accountability does not start with ourselves, we cannot achieve the aims of our foreign policy nor credibly extend it to our friends or our adversaries. We are clear-eyed in our analysis of how we manage our own organization. Every day, we dedicate ourselves to being effective and accountable to the American taxpayer. Guided by our mission, we will continuously pursue efficiencies at all levels, streamline our processes and structures to reinforce their effectiveness, and strategically manage our people, information, and capital assets. We will equally consider the benefits and risks of our actions, as well as our inactions, to achieve the greatest value and opportunity of success for our mission-driven policies and programs.”  
- Secretary Tillerson’s Message in Agency Financial Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017

State Department Observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Secretary Tillerson released a statement on November 22 to commemorate the observation of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which begins on November 25.

In the statement, Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the United States’ “commitment to defending the rights of women and girls to live free from violence.” The Secretary continued, “The United States will never waver in its support for women’s equality. In partnership with governments, international organizations, and civil society around the world, we will continue to work to end violence against women and girls globally and to ensure that women and girls have equal rights and opportunities.” 

State Department Recognizes Transgender Day of Remembrance

Secretary Tillerson released a statement to commemorate the Transgender Day of remembrance.

On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, the United States remains committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons. These principles are inherent in our own Constitution and drive the diplomacy of the United States.”
-- Secretary Tillerson

 United States Joins International Community to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Judith Garber traveled to Montreal, Canada, November 22–24, to attend the joint 11th Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. She joined over 138 nations marking the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, which successfully put the Earth’s ozone layer on a path to recovery. Adopted in 1987, the Montreal Protocol is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful multilateral environmental agreements.

“The United States is proud of its long track record of leadership in this body. The United States was among the first countries to ratify the Montreal Protocol, which was approved by the United States Senate without a single dissenting vote. And U.S. industry has led the way, at every stage, innovating to develop new generations of technology that has allowed Parties to meet their Montreal Protocol obligations even while the use of air conditioning and refrigeration has grown rapidly around the world.”
-- Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Judith Garber, Remarks at 29th Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol

United States Announces Entrepreneurs and Investors Selected to 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit

The United States and India are proud to announce the selection of the 1,500 individuals who will participate in the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which will be co-hosted by the United States and India in Hyderabad, India, November 28-30. Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump will lead the U.S. contingent to the summit, which will highlight the theme of “Women First, Prosperity for All” and focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally.

Approximately one third of the entrepreneurs are from the United States, one third are from India, and one third are from other countries around the globe. The 1,500 participants include nearly 300 investors and ecosystem supporters who will catalyze investment and networking at the Summit. For more information about GES 2017 and updates from next week’s summit, follow @GES2017 on Twitter.

Follow the State Department on Twitter and Facebook for additional information and updates. 

Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.