U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft on U.S. Priorities for the Upcoming UN General Assembly

On July 30th, Meridian hosted its latest virtual  Insights@Meridian  with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft. In conversation with Meridian President and CEO Ambassador Stuart Holliday, Ambassador Craft discussed the UN’s shift online and the U.S.’ priorities for the upcoming General Assembly,   

Below are the top takeaways from the conversation:     

  1. REMAINING ENGAGED. For the first time in its 75-year history, world leaders will not be gathering in person for the upcoming UN General Assembly. President Trump is likely to be the only head of state addressing the General Assembly in person. However, the virus has not stopped diplomatic engagement. Ambassador Craft used her time at home to call the UN Ambassadors to check on their wellbeing. The resulting conversations were a “wonderful opportunity” to engage with Ambassadors that she did not always encounter in the halls of the UN. She hopes to continue this virtual engagement at the General Assembly, using the digital space to amplify the discussion of human rights issues, transparency, and accountability. 
  2. THE DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACT OF COVID-19. As COVID-19 continues to escalate, it’s clear the impact of the virus is unevenly felt across different communities. Ambassador Craft noted how migrants and refugees, as well as those facing poverty and starvation  suffer disproportionately from the virus’s affects. Additionally, women and children in countries with systemic domestic abuse face a situation where the lockdown designed to keep them safe from the virus is simultaneously putting them in danger. These disproportionate effects have only amplified the need to pursue the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Investing in vulnerable populations, and especially investing in women, creates better outcomes for the whole community. 
  3. WE WANT PEOPLE TO HAVE A VOICE. Demonstrations against systemic racism have opened the door for some countries to criticize the U.SIn light of this, Ambassador Craft reaffirmed that she “cannot be prouder of a country that allows for peaceful protests.” The protests have demonstrated that the U.S. needs to do better but having observed that “this is a country that always grows from crisis” Ambassador Craft feels confident that positive developments will come.  
  4. BUILDING A BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP FIRST. The UN Ambassador is unique among members of the U.S. diplomatic corps because they have hundreds of countries to engage with, while most Ambassadors focus mainly on one. Ambassador Craft navigates this challenge by developing bilateral relationships with her fellow Ambassadors first, and then bringing partners together. She cites her time as U.S.  Ambassador to Canada as critical to developing skills she needs to forge relationships with the UN’s 192 member states. 
  5. CROSS-BORDER AID TO SYRIA. Ambassador Craft spoke passionately about the recent UN Security Council resolution to renew cross-border aid to Syria for another 12 months through the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing. This compromise came after contentious negotiations to keep two critical border crossings open, which both Russia and China vetoed. As the need for aid and supplies in the refugee camps continues to grow, Ambassador Craft also noted the additional burden of the pandemic and described the differences she saw between camps in Turkey and those just over the border still in Syria. 

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