Amid all the WikiLeaks uproar is the news that a July 2009 directive under Secretary Clinton's name ordered U.S. diplomats to spy on officials at the United Nations and gather information such as credit card numbers, frequent flier numbers, and "biometric information on U.N. Security Council permanent representatives." Biometric information would include fingerprints and iris recognition. Also on the list of whom to gather biometric information from include, "key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders," reports the Daily Telegraph.
The directive also requested passwords and encryption keys for communications systems used by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other high-level U.N. officials.
The Daily Telegraph reports, "The directive appears to push the boundary between diplomacy and espionage and could breach the 1946 UN convention on privileges and immunities which states that the 'premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable'."
The Daily Mail even states that the request for such information "is set to lead to international calls for Mrs Clinton to resign."
Clinton heads to Central Asia later today, where she might be in the hot seat, having to answer some tough questions about the directive. U.S. diplomats are frequently accused of secretly being spies, and the WikiLeaks news will likely only fuel those fears and possibly make it more difficult for U.S. diplomats to build trust. It'll be interesting to what Clinton has to say during this trip.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting on terrorism today, Secretary Clinton said when it comes to human rights and the rule of law, "We cannot sacrifice those values in our zeal to stop terrorists."
Alluding to the horrific maltreatment of females by Islamist extremists, Clinton went on to say, "Our values are what makes us different from those who are trying to tear down so much of the progress that has been made over the course of history, and I have to add, especially for women and girls."
Clinton said that members of the international community must work harder in their joint efforts against terrorism and strengthen the multilateral institutions in place to tackle the problem:
[O]ur joint efforts [are] only as strong as our shared commitment. And today, let me emphasize that the United States is committed to working through multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, to confront the threats posed. We are also committed to strengthening this multilateral architecture. We believe it can do better. So although we are very supportive, we want to work with all of you to improve it.
Clinton also reminded the Security Council that efforts must be made to stop people from becoming terrorists in the first place, which means "addressing the political, economic, and social conditions that make people vulnerable to exploitation by extremists." She went on to say:
For people whose lives are characterized by frustration or desperation, for people who believe that their governments are unresponsive or repressive, al Qaeda and other groups may offer an appealing view. But it is a view rooted in destruction, and we have to provide an alternative view that is rooted in hope, opportunity, and possibility.
This sounds like a huge, daunting "save the world" job, but Clinton is right -- improved political, economic, and social conditions would go a long way toward giving people an outlook of hope and opportunity and a sense that there's more to be lost than gained by joining or supporting terrorists. But giving people an "alternative view that is rooted in hope, opportunity, and possibility" (if outsiders can even do so) would be a long-term, multiyear effort that would span generations -- 25 or even 100 years, depending on whom you ask. Would the American public be up for such a long-haul effort? Perhaps if it didn't involve too much money or too many American lives lost. But this does seem to be the only true way to ultimately nip terrorism at its roots.
Here is the video of her remarks:
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
I only have a quick few minutes to blog today -- I'm up to my neck working on the next print edition of Foreign Policy -- so I just thought I'd point out that all members of the Clinton family are in New York this week. Saving the world is a family affair! Secretary Clinton has been there since the weekend, and yesterday, as seen in the photo above with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, made remarks at the signing of two memoranda of understanding on recovery efforts in Haiti.
Husband Bill Clinton and newlywed daughter Chelsea Clinton are also in New York for the Clinton Global Initiative. See photos below.*
*Earlier I hadn't been able to upload the Bill and Chelsea photos, but now the uploader is working!
Photos, top to bottom: Mario Tama/Getty Images, Ariel Hermoni/ Israeli Defense Ministry via Getty Images, Mario Tama/Getty Images
At least 179 women were gang-raped in a weekend orgy of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last month, the United Nations revealed yesterday. Most women were raped by two to six men at a time, while their children and families watched, an NGO source told the New York Times.
This horrific news comes just roughly a year after Secretary Clinton defied security advice and personally visited Goma, the epicenter of the Congolese region where rape has been used as a weapon of war. As her eyes brimmed with tears, Clinton listened to a woman explain how she was raped while pregnant and lost her baby. Clinton called the sexual violence "evil in its basest form" and announced $17 million in U.S. aid to respond to it.
Clinton has a jumble of issues to address, from Middle East peace to wishing Ukraine a happy Independence Day, but it would be encouraging to see her at least make a statement on this sickening tradegy. Maybe Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women's issues, could do something?
Over at Inner City Press, Matthew Russell Lee has taken the United Nations to task. It spends $1 billion annually on a peacekeeping mission in Congo that is tasked with protecting civilians. Nevertheless, these rapes occurred just 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) from a peacekeeping base. Then today, the day after the announcement about the rapes, the Security Council met, but no one called for the issue to be taken up!
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
Can you even begin to imagine the heartache of watching your newborn baby being tossed into the sea? That's what happened to Salima, the young Somali refugee in the photo above. I was alerted to her photo and story by an email last week from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The woman who captured Salima's image, photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina, is being honored with the UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award for her "tireless dedication to uncovering and portraying the overlooked human consequences of war." Fazzina spent two years in Somalia following refugees escaping across the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Peninsula. Salima's portrait graces the cover of Fizzina's resulting book, A Million Shillings: Escape from Somalia,
forthcoming in September.
Here's a summarized paraphrasing of the moving caption that accompanied Salima's photo:
Basatine, Yemen, March 2008 -- Salima, 19, now lives in a cramped, dark safe house controlled by human traffickers. Once she saves up $25 through begging, the traffickers will drive her to the desert, allowing her to get to Saudi Arabia, where she'll most likely spend her days enslaved as a maid in someone's home.
The last six weeks have been a nightmare for Salima. She had been living in Mogadishu, Somalia, with her baby boy and husband. Six weeks ago, while pregnant with her second child, she left her home to buy bread. While out, mortars hit her house. "I found my husband and child, but they were not with us anymore," she told Fazzina, the photojournalist. The two had perished in a random attack perpetrated by the very soldiers who had been entrusted to protect the people.
Seven months pregnant, Salima decided to escape. She journeyed northward 20 days in a truck until she reached the area near Bosaso. Salima, along with 120 others, entered the water and were hauled onto a small, wooden boat. Because she was pregnant, she was allowed to sit with her legs out. Everyone else had to sit with their knee to their chins.
In the rough seas, Salima began to get contractions and started bleeding. The crew, who had been drinking gin and smoking marijuana, and who were armed with guns, knives, and hammers, moved her to the front of the boat. She thought they were helping her. Salima passed out. When she woke up, she saw a crew member toss her newborn baby into the sea -- like it was nothing more than a ball. "My baby was all I had left of my husband," Salima told Fizzina.
After landing at a deserted Yemeni beach, Salima was registered at a UNHCR-operated center. She even saw a doctor, but it was too painful for her to talk about what had happened. Now, all alone, without family, she is a traumatized teenager, barely an adult. So, she's back with the traffickers. Her final destination? "Where Allah takes me," she says. Realistically, she'll toil in virtual slavery as a maid in someone's home in Saudi Arabia.
On June 18, in honor of June 20's World Refugee Day, Secretary Clinton spoke about what the refugee issue means for Americans:
[Supporting refugees] goes to the core of who we are as a people and a country because the United States is not only a nation of immigrants -- we are also a nation of refugees. We know from our collective experience that most people want the same basic things in life: safe communities, food, water, lives free of political and religious and other persecution. And when these basic needs go unmet and families are forced to flee their homes in desperation, we should all be there with a helping hand.
She also said:
We help because it is the right thing to do. We happen to believe it's also the smart thing to do, but even in cases where it doesn't appear all that smart, it's still often right. And therefore, we proceed.
Alixandra Fazzina, Courtesy of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
Secretary Clinton says yesterday's U.N. Security Council resolution sends an "unambiguous signal" to Iran that it will be held responsible for actions it takes to develop nuclear weapons.
In a statement issued yesterday about the resolution, which places even more sanctions on Iran, Clinton said:
I commend the United Nations Security Council for its adoption today of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, aimed at addressing the international community's concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program.…
This resolution sends an unambiguous signal to Iran that the international community holds it accountable for its actions. The measures in this resolution go well beyond the pre-existing sanctions on Iran. That said, we have worked hard to minimize their impact on the Iranian people. They target instead elements within the Iranian government, with the aim of changing the leadership's calculations.…
The United States is committed to a diplomatic solution to the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program and we hope the Council's adoption of this resolution will make clear to Iran's leaders the choice that is before them: how much they have to gain from real engagement with the international community, and how much more they stand to lose from continuing down their current path.
The big question, though, is: Will the sanctions work? The recent FP piece, "Weak Tea," argues that this latest round of sanctions has been watered down to the point that they will be "ineffective."
Update: Clinton's impromptu remarks about the resolution, including her reaction to Brazil's and Turkey's no votes, are here.
(In the photo above, Clinton leads a U.N. Security Council session on Sept. 30, 2009.)
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
The United States is "definitely committed to the consideration of India" on the U.N. Security Council, Secretary Clinton said yesterday in a news conference (seen above) after meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna as part of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue.
In her opening remarks to the dialogue, Clinton had said:
India's growing global role requires us to reassess institutions of global governance. India's rise will certainly be a factor in any future consideration of reform of the United Nations Security Council.
Later in the day, when Clinton and Krishna met with the media, a reporter from the Press Trust of India asked Clinton, "[Y]ou spoke about India's being an indispensable partner and trusted friend. So what is holding United States from endorsing India as a member of -- permanent member of -- the United Nations Security Council?"
After discussing other issues for a bit, Clinton answered:
"[W]e don't have any way forward yet on Security Council reform, but we are obviously very committed to considering India. At this point, as you probably know, there is no consensus in the world, and that is the challenge of dealing with multilateral organizations. I think as Minister Krishna said at another point in our meeting today, once you get to multilateral negotiations it slows down considerably. But we are definitely committed to the consideration of India."
Other notes about Clinton's big India day:
In her opening remarks, Clinton made some highly complimentary remarks about India:
We've said it many times, but it cannot be said too often: India is the world's largest democracy, its second-fastest growing economy, and a rising power, not only in Asia but globally. It has vibrant democratic institutions, a very free press, a robust civil society, and an innovative private sector. It is also a model of democratic development that is lifting millions of people out of poverty by widening access to tools of opportunity, such as education, health care, food, water, and jobs.
India's rise is a defining storyline of the early 21st century .
Clinton also called upon India to open its economy more, saying:
Together, we must reduce barriers to trade and investment going in both directions. And we urge India to reduce or ease caps on investment in critical sectors, which would help open markets and create millions of jobs in both countries.
She also expressed hope that India would pass legislation allowing foreign universities to open campuses in India, a topic addressed by Sudip Mazumdar in the recent FP piece, "Will There Be an Indian Harvard?" Clinton said:
[W]e hope that India will pass legislation now under review that would allow foreign universities to open campuses in India in accordance with appropriate regulations, of course. A number of U.S. institutions have expressed interest in opening Indian campuses and working with Indian scholars and students, whose talents are internationally renowned."
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
At 3:15 this afternoon, Secretary Clinton delivered a speech in New York at the U.N. Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. At the conclusion of her remarks, she said:
The last 40 years have proved that nuclear proliferation is not inevitable. We believe it can be stopped, but it will take all of us here recognizing common dangers and finding common ground, rolling up our sleeves and getting creative, taking practical steps together in the next month.
A lot of skeptics out there say that when countries gather at the United Nations, nothing happens but a lot of words are used up. Well, it is up to us at this conference to prove those doubters wrong.… [O]ur children and our grandchildren will live with the consequences of what we decide this month. Whether the world is more or less secure depends on the path we take, and there is no greater reason than that to find a way to act together and to act decisively.
Photos, top to bottom: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images, Mario Tama/Getty Images
Both Clintons -- Hillary and Bill -- are at the United Nations today! They're attending an international donors conference on Haiti. (As you may know, Bill Clinton is U.N. special envoy for Haiti.) They are not sitting next to another, though. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Haitian President René Préval are seated between them.
The Clintons looking more studious:
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Check out the signs in front of Secretary Clinton in the photo above: "President" and "United States."
Secretary Clinton got to preside over a session of the U.N. Security Council today because the United States holds the rotating presidency this month. She called for a vote on a resolution to end wartime sexual violence, and it passed unanimously.
Then in a speech, she declared:
Even though women and children are rarely responsible for initiating armed conflict, they are often war's most vulnerable and violated victims."
She also said:
The dehumanizing nature of sexual violence doesn't just harm a single individual or a single family or even a single village or a single group; it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings."
After Clinton ended the speech, a humorous moment (captured on this video) ensued. She said, "I resume now my function as president of the council. I kind of like being a president. So this may go on a little longer than anticipated."
The diplomats laughed, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "Thank you, Madam President."
In other Clinton-related news, American essayist and political activist Gore Vidal has revealed that he regrets shifting his support from Clinton to Barack Obama during last year's Democratic presidential primary. In an interview with The Times of London, he said he thinks Clinton would have been a better president and said:
Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
Hillary knows more about the world and what to do with the generals. History has proven when the girls get involved, they're good at it. Elizabeth I knew Raleigh would be a good man to give a ship to."
Secretary Clinton had another busy day in New York. Above, she listens attentively during a bilateral meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (in purple tie) at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
A couple of amusing tidbits about Clinton in the news:
•In the just-published book, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, author Christopher Andersen claims that Michelle Obama was crucial in Barack Obama's decision not to select Clinton as his running mate during last year's presidential election. Michelle reportedly told Barack, "Do you really want Bill and Hillary just down the hall from you in the White House? … Could you live with that?"
•In the soon-to-be-published book The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch discusses how late Russian President Boris Yeltsin was found drunk and in search of a pizza on Pennsylvania Avenue during a 1995 visit to Washington. Yeltsin's former head of security says the alleged incident is a lie and blamed it on Clinton: "I think this book was written with the participation of Hillary Clinton who never had much sympathy for Yeltsin."
Photo: Olivier Doulier-Pool/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is having a busy week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Above, she speaks with the much taller Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt upon their arrival for a meeting with EU foreign ministers at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Another Clinton, however, seems to be getting a lot more attention this week -- husband Bill. He's hosting the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, which President Obama attend today. FP editor Josh Keating attended a "blogger roundtable" with Bill Clinton yesterday and will be blogging from the General Assembly all this week. (Check out Passport for his posts.)
Photos, top to bottom: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images, TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
I just returned from the Brookings Institution, where I heard Secretary Clinton deliver a speech previewing the United States' priorities during next week's U.N. General Assembly session.
Before diving into her speech though, Clinton remarked on President Obama's announcement yesterday of changes in the U.S. missile defense program. She said the new system stemmed from a "lengthy and in-depth assessment" of the threats posed by Iran and is based on the United States' "best understanding of Iran's capability."
The new system will "deploy sooner," be "more comprehensive," and have a "better capacity to protect." Clinton said it will "deploy technology that's actually proven" to work and "does what missile defense is actually supposed to do." She added that criticisms of the new system are "not connected to the facts."
Then Clinton delved into her official remarks. Nonproliferation of nuclear weapons will be the main topic that the United States will address next week. Clinton will lead the U.S. delegation to a conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the first time that a U.S. secretary of state has attended such a conference.
Another key topic for the United States next week will be Iran. The issue isn't Iran's right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, she said. Rather, she firmly stressed, the problem is that for years Iran has not lived up to its responsibilities to demonstrate that its program is "exclusively for peaceful purposes."
Clinton said that the United States' past refusal to engage Iran had yielded no progress and added, "We remain ready to engage." (Whether Iran is ready to engage on talking nukes, however, is an entirely different story.)
Some other tidbits:
•Clinton said the United States and Iraq have entered a new, "more mature partnership."
•Clinton will be chairing a session on women, peace, and security at the U.N. General Assembly session. She said, "If women are free from violence and afforded their rights," they can be "change agents."
•On corruption, Clinton said it was a "security problem," not just a "good government concern."
•Finally, at the end, Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott asked Clinton about U.S. health-care reform. Clinton said, "We're going to be successful," but went on to say it "won't be pretty."
Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
A few Clinton-related news articles:
•Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department are trying to find accommodations for Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, who'll be visiting New York for next month's U.N. General Assembly meeting. He prefers to erect Bedouin-style air-conditioned tents, such as this tent he set up in Paris in 2007, but his request to camp in Central Park was rejected. Now, he wants to put down stakes at a Libyan-owned estate in Englewood, N.J., but residents don't want to host the leader who just embraced the recently released Pam Am Flight 103 bomber.
•"Hillary's Right About the 'Defense Umbrella'" argues a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Referring to the "defense umbrella" that Clinton said the United States should consider extending over the Middle East to deter Iran's nuclear ambitions, the piece argues that Clinton has "the right idea," but that the Obama administration must put its money where its mouth is and support missile defense, not scale it back.
•The finance chairman of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign has been accused of fraud for allegedly lying to Citibank to secure a $74 million loan.
Photo: GLENNA GORDON/AFP/Getty Images
Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.