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UN Week – 12/13/10

December 20, 2010

by John and Douglas Carey, editors,

Contents of this issue: Human rights and Iran, US position statements;

The news media that we see and hear pay little or no attention to what goes on at the UN. This is especially true, strange to say, of what the US does at the UN. So this week we feature two important statements to the Security Council made last Friday, December 10th, by our head Ambassador there, Susan Rice. The first is sheer idealism, on human rights for all. The second is as practical and urgent as could be, on the nuclear threat from Iran.

 “Today, I join President Obama in commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We reaffirm the wisdom of its drafters, who gave eloquent voice to the cause of human rights and human dignity in the wake of World War II. And we honor those who risk persecution in the service of its brave ideals.

          “The United States has long worked to live up to the promise of our own founding documents, with their credo of liberty and equal rights under law. Our willingness to measure our deeds against our words and acknowledge our shortcomings has continually renewed the promise of America and given us strength. The spirit of our founding promise inspired one great American, Eleanor Roosevelt, to chair the UN commission that wrote the Universal Declaration. That spirit animated heroic American movements for the rights of women, African-Americans and other minorities. And that spirit still places America squarely on the side of any girl who is barred from school, any boy who is sold into slavery, any individual who is assaulted because of his or her sexual orientation. We will always stand for the student who longs to be taught, for the voter who demands to be heard, for the oppressed who longs to be free.
          “We continue to see the world as it is, but we continue to work for the world as it can be. As President Obama said at the UN General Assembly in September, “Tyranny is still with us.” In November, the UN General Assembly voted – by the largest margin in history – to condemn blatant human rights abuses by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And it condemned and abuses by the regimes in Burma and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
          “On Human Rights Day, the United States celebrates deep truths we hold to be self-evident and honors a stirring Declaration signed by 58 nations—a universal affirmation that human beings have equal worth, equal dignity, equal consequence, and equal rights. And we continue to work for the day when no one will endure discrimination or suffer persecution.”

          And here is Ambassador Rice’s second statement, this one with dire overtones: “Six months ago, almost to the day, this Council adopted Resolution 1929 in response to Iran’s continued refusal to comply with its international nuclear obligations. Since then, Iran’s noncompliance with its obligations to the Security Council and under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has persisted. So has its lack of full cooperation with the IAEA. And so, as we have just heard, have its numerous violations of Security Council resolutions.
          “Allow me to make three brief points on the current situation and appropriate next steps. First, unfortunately, when it comes to Iran’s actions, not much has changed since we last met. Iran continues to violate its obligations to the IAEA and the Security Council.
          “The IAEA Director-General’s latest report on Iran, released just a few weeks ago, again underscores Iran’s continued refusal to comply with its international nuclear obligations and to cooperate fully with the IAEA. Most notably, the report underscores Iran’s ongoing uranium enrichment at 3.5 percent and near-20 percent levels. The report also details Iran’s continued construction of a heavy-water research reactor, its refusal to permit the IAEA the access it needs to answer longstanding questions about the Qom enrichment facility, and its non-response to the questions around a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. In sum, the IAEA’s latest report records Iran’s continued defiance of its international obligations and shows that Iran has yet to take meaningful steps required by this Council and called for by the IAEA Board of Governors.
          “Second, we must continue to maintain the pressure on Iran to change course. All member states have an obligation to fully implement Security Council obligations. We urge those that have not yet done so to report to the Committee on their national implementation efforts as soon as possible. These Security Council resolutions affirm obligations on Iran with a clear objective: to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities.
          “The 1737 Committee and the recently constituted Panel of Experts will help maintain the pressure on Iran by monitoring and improving the implementation and enforcement of the Iran sanctions regime. In particular, we urge the Committee, with the Panel’s support, to investigate thoroughly all reported sanctions violations. We commend Nigeria for having seized Iranian arms exported in violation of UN sanctions. We also commend Italy for seizing items that Syria was attempting to procure illicitly from Iran. Investigations into these incidents can help us better understand and to halt Iran’s arms smuggling and proliferation networks in violation of this Council’s resolutions.
          “We are pleased that the Panel of Experts is now operational. The Panel is an exceptionally well-qualified team, and we expect that it will significantly improve our ability to monitor and tighten enforcement.
          “Finally, let me reiterate my government’s commitment to a dual-track strategy of both pressure and engagement to convince Iran’s leadership to change course. Earlier this week, we held frank discussions and dialogue between Iran and our E3+3 partners. We aim to continue the careful, phased process of building confidence between Iran and the international community. As we have said before, we recognize Iran’s rights, but we insist that Iran fulfill the obligations that come along with those rights. Iran’s choice remains clear: if it builds international confidence and respects its obligations, we will reciprocate. But if Iran refuses, its isolation will only grow. We will base our actions on Iran’s degree of cooperation. We look forward to continued talks in late January to discuss practical ideas for a way forward to resolve our core concerns.
          “We remain committed to working closely with our partners in this Council and the international community to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

          In case you don’t happen to know much about Ambassador Rice, here is what the web site of the US Mission to the UN’s says about her:

From February 2007 through November 2008, Ambassador Rice served as a Senior Advisor for National Security Affairs on the Obama for America Campaign. She later served on the Advisory Board of the Obama-Biden Transition and as co-chair of its policy working group on national security. From 2002-2009, she was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution where she focused on U.S. foreign policy, transnational security threats, weak states, global poverty and development.

          “From 1997 to 2001, Ambassador Rice was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. In this position she formulated and implemented overall U.S. policy for 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, including political, economic, security and humanitarian issues. As Assistant Secretary, she oversaw the management of 43 U.S. Embassies and over 5,000 U.S. and Foreign Service national employees, with a bureau-operating budget of over $100 million and a program budget of approximately $160 million annually. In 2000, Ambassador Rice was co-recipient of the White House’s 2000 Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to the formation of peaceful, cooperative relationships between states.

          “From 1995-1997, Ambassador Rice served as Special Assistant to President William J. Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House. Prior to this position, she served as the Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping on the National Security Council staff from 1993 until 1995.

          Previously, Ambassador Rice was a management consultant with McKinsey and Company and also served on numerous boards, including the National Democratic Institute, the Partnership for Public Service and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

          “Ambassador Rice received her M.Phil (Master’s degree) and D.Phil. (Ph.D) in International Relations from New College, Oxford University, England, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She was awarded the Chatham House-British International Studies Association Prize for the most distinguished doctoral dissertation in the United Kingdom in the field of International Relations. Ambassador Rice received her B.A. in History with honors from Stanford University where she graduated junior Phi Beta Kappa and was a Truman Scholar. Ambassador Rice is married and has two children.” Who could ask for anything more? 

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