US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice omits RtoP in NYU speech
Not Enough? Susan Rice's speech was a good start toward global re-engagement. But it was only that -- a start.
By John Norris
13 August 2009
John Norris is the Executive Director of the Enough project. See www.enoughproject.org.
In a speech last night at New York University, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice spelled out the Obama administration's vision for U.N. and global engagement. Her tone was decidedly upbeat -- almost valedictory -- and it came as no surprise to hear her happily declare, "It is a great time to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations." After eight years of hostility from the George W. Bush administration, two of which were spent under Ambassador John Bolton (who left little tiny shoes to fill), the high-spirited atmospherics were to be expected. The new administration, in stark contrast to its predecessor, has brought a wholesale shift in mood and attitude to Washington's relations with the United Nations. With it has come a jump in the step of diplomats walking the hallways in Turtle Bay. But Rice's speech, which was a good one, also deserves a very careful reading. Some important things were left out.
(…)Equally AWOL from the speech was any reference to the "responsibility to protect" either as a concept or practice. This omission was unfortunate. When the international community can and should intervene in conflicts and humanitarian emergencies is a complicated, deeply contentious issue at the United Nations. If the Obama administration remains silent on the issue, many will perceive that Washington has lost interest in dealing with the Sudans, East Timors, and Kosovos of the world -- given the country's ongoing distractions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rice was, however, effective in arguing that U.N. peacekeeping missions need mandates that are "credible and achievable," with forces that are "equipped seriously, led ably." She stressed that the United States is keen to help other countries train and deploy peacekeepers. In recent congressional testimony she went further, arguing, "The Security Council has recently given some very ambitious mandates to peacekeeping operations in Africa, such as protecting civilians under the threat of physical violence -- including sexual violence -- in vast and populous territories with limited infrastructure, faltering peace processes, ongoing hostilities, and uncooperative host governments." (…)
Link to full speech, “A New Course in the World, a New Approach at the UN” : http://www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov/press_releases/20090812_163.html