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tv   Hearing on U.S. Work with International Organizations  CSPAN  March 5, 2022 12:43am-1:44am EST

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>> the subcommittee on
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international development, organizations and corporate social impact will come to order. good afternoon, everyone. goals, priorities and successes. without objection, the chair has authorized the committee at any point and all members will have five days to submit statements and questions for the record. to put something on the record, have your staff email the previously mentioned email or contact committee staff. please keep your video function on at all times. members are responsible for muting and unmuting your selves. consistent with, staff will only mute witnesses as appropriate to
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eliminate background noise. i will now recognize myself for opening remarks. thank you for joining me at this important hearing. i want to extend a warm welcome to our witness, the assistant secretary of state. congratulations on your confirmation. on this subcommittee, we know the importance of your role. you have answered the call to public service in tough jobs and we know this will be a tough role. documented by the inspector general. i know many other nominees to the united nations and international organizations are still waiting for confirmation and i hope the senate will move swiftly to have these individuals fully in place. i hope this hearing will also signal renewed engagement
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between the department and congress on this issue. this is the first hearing for the house committee or a senate confirmed an assistant secretary of state since 2003. ed is an opportunity to speak to the role of international organizations in u.s. foreign policy. my colleagues and the larger public would benefit from the opportunity to understand and engage with your work more regularly, particularly as your work is just as important as many other bureaus at the department of state who have frequent opportunities to testify in front of congress. the system of international organization established in the wake of world war ii is an incredible achievement that we cannot take for granted. the united nations cap the peace between major powers for decades and play a major role in peacekeeping around the world. the u.n. system and other
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institutions have helped advance cooperation in many areas. more than 75 years later, we have seen more signs that international order is in need of renewal. we face new challenges like climate change and climate driven migration. questions about technical standards in governance have major impacts on geopolitics and how we all live our lives. we face all challenges in a new guise, whether a worldwide pandemic or armies on international borders with threats of invasion. russia's military buildup and potential invasion of ukraine is a major challenge to it -- russia present at its creation to repudiate the idea that unprovoked aggression like what we saw in two world wars was an acceptable relation for international wars. i will be interested on hearing
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from you on how organizations have kept the peace and what changes need to make to ensure these organizations continue to be relevant and effective. in the decades since world war ii, we have five new partners, as well. we have seen japan, germany and new powers like india demonstrate they have a stake in international order and address some of the urgent problems of our time. ask whether institutions drawn up according to colonial alignments from decades ago reflect the world today. i hope that during this hearing we will hear not only how your engagement with organizations, but also how they might be reimagined to maintain a place in a rapidly changing world. i appreciate the state department and your team's willingness to work with this committee on a range of priorities over the past year. technical assistance from your bureau was invaluable as i
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develop my legislation with vice chair sara jacobs to support greater participation in international organizations, as well as a bill that representative jacobs and i are leaving to make sure we are keeping peacekeeping at the u.n. both of these bills passed the house recently as part of the compete act. a senior member of your team testified during our subcommittee's last hearing about efforts to contest you win elections in place more americans within international organizations, both important priorities. throughout all of that, your bureau has been responsible and great to work with. i hope we can continue to work in the cooperative and bipartisan manner as we address the challenges facing international organizations. once again, congratulations on your confirmation and welcome to the subcommittee. i look forward to your testimony.
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with that, i will turn it over to representative malliotakis for her remarks. rep. malliotakis: thank you, chairman castro, for calling this hearing and for your continued focus on conducting oversight of our engagement within the united nations and other international organizations. assistant secretary, thank you for being with us. as i noted at the previous hearings on this issue, the post world war ii international order has come under increased threat over the past years as countries like china and russia seek to rewrite the rules and undermine state sovereignty. the current situation in ukraine is a prime example of this dangerous phenomenon. united states created international organizations like the u.n. and its agencies to prevent them from taking hold across the world. we are unfortunately witnessing china and russia undermining those is to shins in real time. the world health organization
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routinely parroted china's talking points during the early stages of the covid-19 pandemic, spreading misinformation that led to the deaths of untold thousands of americans the worldwide. we know the blatant corruption of state actors like china is not just limited to the world health organization. the ccp has consistently sought to exclude our allies, taiwan, international organizations in general, including the civil aviation organization, interpol, and as we have seen, the olympics. as i have said before, the u.s. engagement with international organizations should be tempered and clear eyed. i biden and harris administration doesn't seem to agree. last year, the president declared the u.s. would rejoin the u.n. human rights council, a sham body with a terrible track record of protecting dictatorships and covering up the crimes of the world's worst human rights abusers, china,
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russia, cuba, venezuela. instead of focusing on actually human rights issues are brought, the council continues to focus its efforts on persecuting israel, the only country permit me featured on the council's agenda. while this administration publicly stated it would seek changes to the council, we have seen not a single piece of reform since our reentry to the council last year. these reforms should have been a prerequisite of the u.s. seeking election to stay, not a hopeful goal to be left for sometime in the future. the same can be said of the president's decision to unilaterally join the paris accord without congressional conversation. while cost of u.s. taxpayers trillions of dollars, the agreement permits the world's largest carbon emitter, china, to make meager contributions.
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under the agreement, china may continue raising carbon emissions until 2030. when the united states engages with international organizations, we bring financial contributions in addition to our american values. the u.s. account for one quarter of the regular peacekeeping budgets to the united nations and we make large contributions to a wide range of other international organizations. but our constituents back home, men and women who work to fund these agencies rarely see a return on the dollar. this must come to an end. while i am glad this administration has continued the work, we must continue to use the office to ensure our partners and allies are united to hold these international organizations accountable. doing so requires leadership that starts in the white house and extends to foggy bottom and new york.
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chairman castro, thank you again for scheduling this hearing and for the work we have already done to conduct rigorous oversight on u.s. engagement with international organization. we have a duty to the american taxpayer to ensure our engagement is targeted, strategic, and maximizes the positive impact of the united states abroad. thank you to the witness for being here. i look forward to your testimony. chair castro: thank you, ranking member. i will now introduce our distinguished witness. we have with us today the honorable michele sison, assistant secretary of state from the bureau of international foreign affairs with the u.s. department of state. she was recently confirmed by the senate to lead this critical bureau and previously served as the u.s. ambassador to haiti, sri lanka, the maldives, lebanon, and the uae. welcome. michele: good afternoon and thank you, chairman castro,
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ranking member malia talk us -- malliotakis. president biden has made clear that we will put our core u.s. values at the center of our foreign policy. this means we must actively outcompete efforts by nations who stand in opposition to u.s. values on human rights, democracy, labor rights, and transparent economic practices. to achieve this, we must work in partnership with other nations. in my short time as the new assistant secretary for international affairs, i can state that the multilateral becomes more complex and more important with each passing year. i have seen across my state department career the reality that the u.n. and other international organizations are increasingly engaged in all corners of the globe with growing irrelevance to the urgent challenges our world faces. that was the driving force
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behind the president's determination to restore u.s. leadership in multilateral spaces. over the last year, that determination has played out in concrete ways. we rejoin the paris agreement and have expanded u.s. leadership on climate matters, including at cop 26 in glasgow. we recommitted to the world health organization and are actively engaged in reforming and strengthening its capacity to support global health security including responding to covid-19, future pandemics, and other health emergencies. we are leading by example as the largest contributor to covax, providing more than 400 million doses of vaccines 110 countries around the world. put human rights back at the center of u.s. foreign policy by re-engaging with the u.n. human rights council, and we are working as never before to increase the number of qualified americans in leadership
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positions across the international system. we have made clear that we are not simply returning to international organizations, we are restoring american leadership to promote and protect american interests and values. and our strong principled leadership, and the relationship we are building with partners, are key in safeguarding multilateral institutions from those such as the people's republic of china and the russian federation that seek to bend the u.n. system to their authoritarian agenda. we need the u.n. at its best. that means a u.n. dedicated to its founding ideals, committed to accountability and a culture of reform. a u.n. that rejects anti-israel bias, anti-semitism and racism in all forms, a u.n. that promotes the universality of human rights, humanitarian principles, sustainable development, and cooperation among nations. a u.n. that embraces the active,
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meaningful participation of civil society voices, and also increasing, taiwan's meaningful participation in the u.n. system and international organization. that is an important priority as well. we need a u.n. that demonstrates value to the american people. that means talking with americans about how cooperation for the international telecommunications union supports economic growth by connecting -- contribute into the connectivity of networks, wiring the world in a way that is open and free. and how our multilateral work supports standards for food safety that helps american farmers send their food around the world so they are not forced to compete with cheaper products. it is about how u.n. diplomacy supported by international partners can ever and mitigate tensions that can lead to protracted conflict and
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unspeakable human suffering. and it's about how peacekeepers provide stability and create space for reconciliation which reduces the risk of broadening conflict. it is also about promoting international labor standards that allow american companies to compete on a more level playing field. it's about international control on fentanyl, to deny drug traffickers the raw materials needed to replenish their supply. and it's about the promotion and protection of human rights as expressed in the universal declaration of human rights, and so much more. i would like to spend a moment on that last point. in january, the united states assumed an elected seat on the human rights council. the first session since we joined darts february 28, and there is much ahead of us to accomplish, including renewing the special reppo tours --
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rappateurs, supporting resolutions, supporting the freedom of religion belief, human rights of minority groups, persons of disabilities, and highlighting other countries human rights crises, including in belarus, south sudan, nicaragua. of course at the same time, any discussion of the statement also recognizes its corrosive anti-israel bias, something that the administration has committed to confront whenever and wherever it appears, and that means being at the table to advocate on israel's behalf. it means engaging with the office of the high commissioner for human rights, with hrc member states to make clear strong u.s. opposition to problematic anti-israel mandates including the open ended commission of inquiry. it means redoubled efforts to build a community of member states to minimize and
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eventually eliminate agenda item seven, and other resolutions that unfairly target israel. and it means working thoughtfully with regional groupings to reshape the council's membership, so that those who violate and abuse human rights, such as the prc, russia, cuba, venezuela, are no longer able to occupy those important positions. and it means leading by example and welcoming scrutiny over our own human rights record to demonstrate to the world that all countries should be held to the highest human rights ideals. leading also means competing countries that misuse the u.n., diminish its effectiveness, or contort its purposes. for example, the people's republic of china seeks to use the u.n. to promote the problematic belt and road initiative and now its global development initiative. p.r.c. attacks on rules and values and standards undermine
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core u.n. principles, particularly respect for human rights and fundamental freedom. we are working hard to push back on p.r.c. actions and to present our own affirmative vision of a strong u.n. working for the global good. and we are sharply focused on appointments or elections with qualified, independent, and like-minded candidates for leadership positions in the u.n. system. we have at a number of recent successes. in october, professor todd buchwald was elected to the committee against torture. in november, jeffrey was reelected to the international civil service commission. in december, professor justin was elected to serve on the u.n. turning form on people of african descent. on february 1, ambassador russell began her tenure as the director of unicef. in addition, u.s. support for
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doreen to become the secretary -- the next secretary-general of the international tote medications union highlights our commitment to effective and innovative leadership of the important body. in short, the io bureau supports a u.s. leadership at the u.n. and across multilateral venues to advance our u.s. national interests and to protect the american people, to promote u.s. prosperity and protect our core american values, as well as to drive the reforms that are needed to ensure the effectiveness of these international organizations. thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you. i welcome your questions. chair castro: thank you so much for your testimony. i will not recognize members for five minutes each. pursuant to house rules, all time yielded is for purposes of questioning our witnesses. because of the ritual format, i
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will recognize committee members by seniority, alternating between majority and the minority. i can only call on you if you are present with your video on. if you this your turn, please let staff know and we will circle back to you. you must unmute the microphone and address the chair verbally. i will start by recognizing myself. thank you again for joining us today. i want to turn our attention first to the issue of hearing what is at stake when it comes to u.s. leadership at the united nations. what do you see as the consequences of the u.s. not engaging with the united nations and multilateral organizations? i would appreciate if possible a concrete example of what it means for americans and for their lives when we engage or don't engage. michele: thank you very much for that question, mr. chairman. again, i appreciate the
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opportunity to engage with all of you so early on in my tenure. eight weeks into my tenure. hourly engagement with the u.n. system really gives us a platform on the world stage to reassert our u.s. leadership and work with our partners to push back on those countries with authoritarian agendas, who are working hard to reshape international institutions and alter the standards, and pushback against u.n. and american values. i will take the example, since you asked for a specific example, of what we are doing here in the io bureau to take targeted action to oppose harmful efforts, these are people's republic of china's
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efforts in large part, such as inserting problematic language into u.n. security council and general assembly resolutions and other multilateral documents, including country strategic plans for some of the u.n. agencies out in the field. even in my first few weeks here as assistant secretary, i have had the responsibility of engaging directly with a number of senior u.n. officials on this question, focusing on this point that the language, which is embedded in a number of the draft documents that we see, implies u.n. support for a single-member state, global foreign policy platform. my point back to these u.n. leaders, even early in my tenure
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, is that the u.n. needs to live up to its own ideals, its own charter, not this top-down model, but the vision human rights commitment, fundamental freedoms of the individual. there are subtle language that worked its way into these documents, new io office, is on this issue, weeding out this language. we had some real-time examples on this, even this week. thank you for your interest on this important issue. chair castro: thank you. i wanted to ask about unesco. following unesco's admission of
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palestine as a member in 2011, the u.s. stopped paying dues to unesco and eventually withdrew in 2019. the biden administration has requested a waiver to facilitate participation in unesco. can you speak to why the u.s. should participate in unesco, and what is at stake in that body? michele: thank you very much for that question, chairman. should the administration decide to rejoin unesco, there are a couple of key factors here, i think, that i would like to highlight. unesco is engaged in a broad range of work that impacts u.s. security and commercial interests, including the shaping of international standards, best practices, not only on education, but on issues like
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ethics of emerging technologies, ethics of artificial intelligence, open access to information, which has implications for intellectual property. i have to say, in the absence of u.s. leadership, while we have been out, the prc and others have become more assertive in unesco, shaping some of -- trying to shape some of the draft language, trying to shape standards in a way that run right up against democratic norms and again we see the p.r.c. seeking to advance their authoritarian agendas in this setting. of course, i also need to underscore, should the administration decide to rejoin unesco, we will of course be working to ensure the u.s. does not permit any disproportionate focus on israel as a part of our re-engagement with unesco.
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chair castro: i am actually out of time. my time has expired. if there is anything else, please send it over for the record. with that, i will go to ranking member malliotakis. rep. malliotakis: thank you. you mentioned human rights and our role on the human rights council. the second was fentanyl, and how we can perhaps utilize the international organizations to crack down on the smuggling of the fentanyl ingredients from china and mexico to the united states. if you could touch on those two issues, but start with fentanyl, because you did talk about human rights. michele: thank you, ranking member. as i came into this position in the international organization bureau, i am aware of our
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involvement in two areas of the u.n. system, universal postal system, of course, looking at how some of this product is moved from countries into our country, and also the work of unodc on these issues. i do look forward to continuing to engage with you and your staff, because i could not agree more. this is a critical issue for our population here. i look forward to continuing and discussing this important issue with you. rep. malliotakis: how do you think we can utilize these organizations to stop this worldwide drug trafficking? michele: i think you put your finger on it. it is going into member states and talking about what this is
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doing in our communities, how this is hurting american youth, really creating an understanding among other member states, whether it is at the upu or unodc, how we tie our domestic priorities, agenda here in the united states, to our multilateral priorities. i think that is one issue that i can see coming in from the field as a diplomat who has been working overseas for a number of years. i think we need to do better in the io bureau of connecting our domestic priorities in our messaging that we are bringing up at the international organizations, and as we ask our ambassadors out in the field to go explain why an issue is so
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important to our country. it is bringing it home to the realities. rep. malliotakis: i think being that fentanyl is now the number one killer of those 18 to 45-year-old americans, i would encourage you to press upon the administration how critical it is that we take swift and strong action to deter this type of preying of american citizens, that we secure our borders. i would love to hear your ideas, if you have any ideas specifically, how we can utilize our memberships in these organizations to try and crackdown on it. secondly, with regard to human rights, the human rights council, it is so offensive and disturbing to so many of us that these perpetrators sit and actually run this council as members. we mentioned a few of them
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earlier, china, russia, cuba, venezuela. what specifically do you think we should be doing to change the makeup of this body and also ensure that they are actually not legitimizing human rights violators but instead cracking down on them? michele: ranking member, i could not agree more. the hrc is flawed, it is a flawed membership. we will continue to work for medium-term, long-term change in the membership of the human rights council, so that we can work with a group of countries with better human rights records. we are going to continue to engage with like-minded emperors on the council, try to encourage
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countries with good human rights records, good democracy and transparency records, to actually run and be candidates for the council, engage with you, ranking member, other members of this committee on how we can get the hrc to focus on some of these worst violators. i agree, having russia, china, cuba, venezuela on there is problematic. hrc is flawed, but it also does give us the opportunity to shine the spotlight on a number of priorities where we are pressing for accountability. as i mentioned, the commission for inquiry on serbia, special rappateur for iran, burma. it is a flawed institution but one that we want to make better while being at the table. i believe we are more effective
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when we are pushing back on these issues. rep. malliotakis: thank you. chair castro: thank you. vice chair jacobs. rep. jacobs: thank you so much, mr. chair, assistant secretary, for testifying before the committee. i wanted to follow-up on your answer about u.s. standing at the u.n.. i wanted to talk about u.s. peacekeeping and the impact it has on u.s. influence and standing. can you describe the specifics of payments, the impact on bodies and also the capabilities of peacekeeping operations and how china and russia has used this to their advantage at the u.n.? michele: thank you so much, representative jacobs. thank you also for your long-standing interest and advocacy on this issue. watching that even before it was even confirmed. congressional support for our
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multilateral commitments is absolutely vital. the issue of paying our bills in full and on time is incredibly important. when we do not pay our bills in full and on time, others push at us. we have seen china and others seek to make this a point. our influence at the u.n. is greatest when we pay our bills in full and on time. our failure to live up to our financial obligations is something that those who would like to poke at us will jump on. this strategic competition, as we call it.
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i will also note, cap or in terms of the peacekeeping caps, we still have an obligation to the american taxpayer to constrain cost wherever possible, to look for efficiencies, to look for effective mandates that protect civilians to a limiting waste. we are committed to those objectives. committing support for u.n. peacekeeping and u.n. leadership in escaping is strengthened when we pay our bills. rep. jacobs: thank you. i also want to talk about the importance of uplifting the voices of civil society and local actors at the u.n., other organizations. we have seen authoritarian actors including china use certain positions, particularly at unesco, by shutting out voices at the u.n.. how with you and ensure a
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diverse array of voices are uplifted at institutions and where actors have been underrepresented? what kind of reforms can we expect the u.s. to push at the u.n.? what steps does theio bureau have to make sure that the u.s. is more transparent to citizens working at the u.n. and in civil society? michele: thank you very much important question. we are absolutely committed to promoting ngo participation in the work of the west. i personally deal with the secretary of the io, and i was grateful to the u.n. foundation last week who brought in a number of u.s. ngos and civil society groups including human rights defenders, to meet with me virtually, so i could hear
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firsthand from them on their priorities, have that initial exchange so early on in my tenure. we want to make sure that we are welcoming civil society into the discussions in new york, in geneva, and across the u.n. system. we see that other countries -- here, i'm talking about p.r.c. again -- have made efforts to block legitimate ngos from participating in the u.n., to bring the people's voice into these important discussions. we look at the u.n. ngo committee in new york as an example of this, where p.r.c. has really worked to make
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international cooperation i would say less effective by preventing the valuable contributions of civil society, activists, human rights defenders, academics, private-sector forces. we will continue to push back against this practice and to really make sure that we all benefit from these and voices. thank you so much. rep. jacobs: thank you. my time has expired. chair castro: thank you, vice chair. we are going to do a second round for whoever has questions on the second round. don't feel like you have to ask a question, but if you do, we will do a second round in a second. i see congress member issa is on but his video is not. i wanted to make sure -- there he is. rep. issa: hopefully i am unmuted, can be seen and heard.
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chair castro: no worries. rep. issa: madam ambassador, since your long and varied career includes time in lebanon, sadly in a better time, but it also includes the investigation on syria, had already been well underway before you were ambassador, which is now more than a decade ago. what can you do to move what has turned into a multi-decade investigation of a 2003 atn and the continued influence of iran in lebanon with its own military force? michele: it is good to see you again. i remember very well your many visits to lebanon during my service there. let me say first and foremost
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that we are absolutely committed to working with our allies and partners, to counter iran's destabilizing activities including what it is doing in lebanon, provision of weapons to the violent groups it backs in lebanon and of course throughout the greater region. the special tribunal on lebanon, as you note, has been a multi-year effort. i look forward to continuing to engage with you and your staff as we push for peace or across the -- four results across the board at the tribunal including other pieces of the u.n. picture, the u.n. peacekeeping mission.
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the issues in lebanon are complex and long-standing. i know that you have long experienced many insights and i look forward to reconnecting on all of this. . rep. issa: thank you. unfortunately, that long experienced comes not always with a record of compliment these days. lebanon is in a much more dire position than it has been in any other time in its entire history. following up on that, the subject of unifil, and i know the finances of the united nations are complex, but unifil can only do its mission if it has the support of the lebanese armed forces. i want you to comment on efforts to make sure those forces are
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compensated enough that they show up in this very difficult time in which their pay has plummeted to about 5% of it was -- what it was about a year ago. michele: you are touching on a very important issue. obviously, unifil's operations and the challenges it faces, our partnership with unifil, partnership also but the lebanese armed forces are right at the top, priority list also for me here at io, not just because of my previous service there, but because of the impact on the rest of the region. the challenges that this poses to durable peace in lebanon and the need to assist the laf is,
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again, at the top of the priority list. i look forward to continuing to work with you and your team as we see how we can strengthen unifil's performance and effectiveness. rep. issa: i appreciate that. with my brief time remaining, i want to ask not a rhetorical question but a question in light of what was said earlier. you would. that we need to pay our just debts in a timely fashion. isn't it fair to say that in the past few years there were legitimate disputes which should be considered when pushing back on people who say that we don't pay our fair share? michele: yes. the issue of paying our bills, i
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think, is even more key. this language we have seen p.r.c. and others surface in the budget committee, the united nations in new york, i was the deputy in 2014 and 2018, engaged in the committee from time to time. what we are hearing today is different from what i heard it during that period. again, we are going to be looking for deficiencies, eliminating waste, constraining cost wherever and whenever possible, but we will also be pushing back against this false narrative that we are somehow not supportive of u.n. peacekeeping and the important goals that it supports in terms
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of the protection of civilians and stability. rep. issa: thank you, mr. chairman. i yelled back. -- yield back. chair castro: ok. i think that is all for round one. we will go to round two. i will start with a follow-up to my unesco question. reported last week indicated that the israeli government understands the importance of u.s. participation in unesco and would not be concerned by the united states rejoining the body. can you speak to the state department engagement with the israeli government on unesco, and your best understanding of their position on that u.n. body? michele: thank you, mr. chairman. i have met with israeli counterparts in the last couple of weeks on a number of issues in the u.n. space.
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i will work closely with israel and other like-minded partners, should the administration decide to rejoin unesco to prevent or oppose any biased or one-sided resolutions in that space, unesco, unfairly focused on israel, as we do across the u.n. system. we pushed back across the u.n. system on any disproportionate focus on israel as part of our engagement, would certainly do so with re-engagement with unesco. also, consulting with this committee, but congress ripped large throughout this process -- writ large throughout this process. chair castro: thank you. darrell issa, if he has a question, and then brad sherman. your bureau was tasked with
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establishing u.s. policy toward international organizations. one important facet of our participation in the united nations is our commitment to the united nations charter and the body of international law that the u.n. seeks to uphold, including on the rights of migrants. i, along with many of my colleagues, have been alarmed by the biden administration's title 42 order which expels individuals at the southern border. the u.n. high commissioner for refugees says this policy is inconsistent with international norms and may constitute refinement. the former counsel to the state department has affirmed these concerns, saying the title 42 policy "continues to violate our legal obligation to not expel or return individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture." and violates the refugee convention, a foundational
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treaty for the u.s. work on refugees. he called these deportations "illegal and inhumane." while this is a cdc order, the state department is responsible for ensuring the u.s. policy adheres to our treaty commitments, including the united nations charter. has the state department made an assessment of the legality of the title 42 policy under international law? michele: thank you for raising this question, mr. chairman. as you note, title 42 is under cdc. i will certainly flag these concerns that you have raised with others here at the state department, the bureaus that are looking at these issues
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including prm and others. chair castro: are you aware whether the state department has done that kind of assessment? michele: i do not have visibility on the current state of discussion on title 42, mr. chairman. i will definitely flag your question to me today with our leadership. chair castro: of course, i think we all appreciate and understand the cdc's role, but that policy directly impacts your work and the work of the state department and the ability of the united states to live up to its u.n. obligations as a partner with other nations around the world in respecting human rights, the rights of the persecuted, the rights of refugees and migrants. given the serious legal concerns about this policy and its implications for our commitments to the united nations, i hope
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that if one has not been made, you will seek out a determination and shared with the committee and the cdc. michele: thank you, mr. chairman. of course, i want to ensure that the u.s. and io bureau of course are committed to supporting safe, orderly, inhumane migration -- and she made migration. -- humane migration. rep. issa: i and back. -- am back. i just wanted to follow up briefly. i know immigration will continue to be a global issue. in your opening remark, you talked about the migration problems on a global basis. as you know, we are seeing at our southern border people from virtually every country on earth. from the standpoint of your
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role, making sure mold order is maintained -- world order is maintained, basically, art does migrants, refugees supposed to not pick a country to come to, but in fact, go to the first safe country? isn't international law one in which you get to pick the country which you are refuge to? i want to point out out separate from our issues on border security. michele: thank you so much for that question. the issue of our work withunhcr, the high commission for refugees, our shared responsibilities between the io bureau and our population and
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refugee bureau. certainly, we work together to address factors across the world, in all parts of the world, humanitarian access issues, humanitarian response issues, and we have our u.s. mission in geneva that works closely with unhcr and other humanitarian assistance -- rep. issa: madam secretary, i'm sorry. the question was, as a global responsibility, it doesn't fall to the u.s. to take those who simply choose to come here and ask for refugee status. is that correct? that is the long and short of it. michele: yes.
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it is a shared responsibility among the international community to look at these issues. rep. issa: i appreciate that. lastly, and we could pick any one of the countries that you have represented as ambassador, including lebanon, but the state department is currently plus or minus one year behind in all of its visa activities. from the standpoint of legal immigration, our meeting a global responsibility, i know that you don't speak for the whole state department, but if you are aware of it, what can and should be done to meet that obligation? there are legitimate refugee requests coming in from all over the world. unlike those who show up at our border uninvited are simply stuck there.
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even someone who has a birthright as a u.s. citizen can wait six months in britain just to get an appointment to get a passport. isn't that an issue where the state department is not meeting its obligation to address the globe? michele: thank you for raising these issues. i will certainly make known to my counterpart, the assistant secretary in the bureau of consular affairs, the issues you raise on passports, immigrant visa issuances, as well as the refugee issue you have highlighted with our prm bureau leadership. rep. issa: thank you, and thank you to the many times you made our embassy available during our trips to lebanon during your tenure there. i yield back. chair castro: thank you. next we will go back to our vice chair, sara jacobs. rep. jacobs: thank you so much.
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i want to continue on my previous question regarding civil society. engaging u.s. civil society is very important and great, but arguably more important to ensure we are supporting civil society and other countries as the u.n. supports negotiations, peacekeeping operations, not just the states. another way civil society is sometimes shut out is any complications on peacekeeping operations and political negotiations. the u.n. deploys a top-down approach when we know the best practices include a bottom up approach, which means robust engagement and involvement from local civil society. we find this issue in the cyprus peacekeeping operation. while relatively nonviolent, has been intractable. negotiations are at a standstill. you can see the process is extreme a top-down.
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civil society feels shut out even though they have a different perspective on the conflict versus those who have been around since the 1980's. as a young member of congress, i can tell you this is often the case. how does the state department plan to engage with the cyprus department on opening of its negotiations and establishing a direct line to civil society on both sides? michele: thank you so much for raising this. i will say, one of the things i have seen now coming back into the io space, was in new york, then haiti, now back in the io space. i see a stronger focus now on civil society engagement, not only by the folks in new york who bring in civil society speakers into the security council, but also on the ground
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in peacekeeping missions. thank you for raising the missions in cyprus. the example there is really important. what we see the mission doing, bringing in women, bringing in youth, it is an international best practice that is being shared in the context of peace building and a peacekeeping, this inclusively, this active participation by youth and women. it is key in moving ahead in a broader cyprus peace process that would lead to a lasting settlement and peace. but it is also important for other peacekeeping missions, civil affairs sections, to look at what is being done there with monthly, by communal ngo meetings, youth dialogues, all
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in building confidence and trust. focus on civil society, also looking at private-sector entrepreneurship pieces of this, environmental peace building initiatives. these are all best practices that i intend to share. when i have the various representatives come to sit on my sofa in the office as they make their way to washington before they go to new york for these mandate renewals, i think this is absolutely a best practice. thank you. rep. jacobs: i will just highlight in my conversations with civil society and young people around the world, there is still a sense that they are not being included in these conversations. i would urge you to continue to prioritize this, continue to push the u.n. to do a better job of this. mr. chair, i yield back. chair castro: i want to thank
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everyone for joining us for the subcommittee hearing. that concludes our questions. i will now close briefly. the members of the subcommittee will reflect on this testimony as we pursue our legislative and oversight responsibilities on the united states engagement with the united nations and other international organizations. last november, this committee held a hearing on u.s. leadership at the united nations on the administration's strategies to contest elections and place more americans within the u.n. system. for years, senators from hawaii and ohio requested that the gao look into the issue of u.s. representation within international organizations. the last such report was in 2010. today, i come along with the ranking member malliotakis, representative reg remix, michael mccaul, request the gao
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to resume these assessments. these requests include barriers to recruitment, hiring and retention, the state department's efforts to improve u.s. representation, and of the u.s. efforts to fund junior officers at the united nations across the range of u.s. agencies that participate. the united states efforts on this has at times been strong, and at other times week. i'm encouraged by the biden administration's efforts to contest elections and international levels, but the only way to be succeed, is to be consistent. a gao report is an important counterpart to the state department's own reporting on their efforts and will ensure this effort will continue to be on congress's agenda in the coming years so we can work with the administration to advance our values and priorities through these international
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bodies. i hope this hearing is the first of many where the committee can hear from the bureau of international organizations on your work, priorities, and continue to conduct oversight on these issues. thank you again for your


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