WASHINGTON (Aug. 30, 2017) — The leading humanitarian organization CARE is deeply concerned by news that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seeks to eliminate several special envoys and representatives of the U.S. State Department, while subsuming others within existing regional and functional bureaus. These changes would represent a significant interruption in the critical diplomatic and humanitarian work that these envoys undertake, including the integration of women’s advancement throughout U.S. foreign policy and the vital peacebuilding work of the U.S. Special Envoys to Sudan and South Sudan and the Great Lakes.
“Elimination or reorganization of these positions would undermine U.S. efforts to prioritize this critical work within the U.S. State Department,” said David Ray, vice president of policy and advocacy at CARE.
The Office of Global Women’s Issues, which enjoyed bipartisan support throughout the Bush and Obama Administrations, performs vital work in advancing the rights and status of women globally. Headed by an Ambassador-at-Large, this office leads the State Department’s diplomatic engagement on women’s rights and provides critical leadership within the department on integrating women’s advancement into U.S. foreign policy. Given the importance of this work, this office was elevated during the previous Administration to report directly to the Secretary of State, allowing it to provide guidance to regional and functional bureaus and to coordinate across the department. While CARE is encouraged by news that this office will remain within the State Department, we are deeply concerned that the office has been demoted in stature by being limited to a functional office that would no longer report directly to the Secretary. This will undermine its ability to effectively and coherently integrate women’s issues across U.S. foreign policy and will damage U.S. leadership in promoting women’s rights globally.
Additionally, we cannot ignore that humanitarian needs across the Great Lakes and South Sudan continue to grow unabated. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 1million people were displaced in 2016, and an additional 1million have been displaced in 2017. In South Sudan a famine was declared earlier this year as conflict affects people’s ability to access food and humanitarian assistance. As a humanitarian organization, we are working to respond to these needs but, ultimately, will not see a drastic improvement in the situation until many of these crises are brought to a peaceful resolution. The Special Representative and the Special Envoy provide additional diplomatic capacity so that the United States can invest in the regional solutions required to address the drivers of these crises, as well as shepherd political solutions.
CARE calls on the Trump Administration to reconsider this harmful decision and its negative impact on our humanitarian and development efforts worldwide. These diplomatic roles are essential to promoting U.S. global leadership and must be considered hand-in-hand with our broader foreign policy goals.
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Last year, CARE worked in 94 countries and reached more than 80 million people around the world. Learn more at care.org.
Nicole Ellis, +1-202-560-1791, firstname.lastname@example.org