Over the past three days, we’ve laid out a number of key issues to be grappled with as the U.S. government meshes its foreign assistance programs with the goals laid out in the President’s December 6 memorandum and in Secretary Clinton’s speech the same day. These issues will require more than energy and thought: they will require clear and determined support from department and agency leaders, which we trust will be given.
As referenced earlier, USAID’s development assistance programs represent, in fact, only part of a larger set of assistance programs scattered across the U.S. government. The President’s memorandum references a baker’s dozen agencies that have such programs. Apart from USAID, two of our largest assistance programs were established under the Bush Administration: the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, was established as a government corporation under the direction of a public/private board; PEPFAR, which operates under the Secretary of State’s oversight, oversees our international HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. Smaller grass-roots development assistance programs are managed by the Inter-American Foundation and the African Development Foundation. Even the Pentagon carries discretionary funding that can buttress our overseas development assistance efforts.Some have argued that USAID should have direct authority over all assistance programs, both to avoid redundancy and to ensure policy focus and track results. Ultimately, the question of appropriate oversight of USG assistance is one for the Administration and Congress to decide. We do believe, however, that President Obama’s December 6 memorandum will carry the longer-term impact it suggests only if there is an appropriate mechanism, with regular reporting and review, that can ensure that all USG assistance agencies are thinking creatively about how their funding is being used to meet the needs of LGBT communities, in support of overall USG human rights policy goals.
We further note that Secretary Clinton’s Geneva speech includes announcement that the State Department soon will establish a new public-private fund to support international LGBT equality efforts. We urge that this fund be drawn upon to support specific programmatic ideas, from any and all USG agencies, that clearly would impact LGBT equality goals overseas. The goal should be to encourage greater synergy among the programs of our departments and agencies, and to break down the stovepipes that too often impede success.
The Council for Global Equality is and will remain an eager supporter of Administration efforts to ensure that LGBT issues are fully integrated into a principles-based, global set of U.S. human rights and assistance policy goals. Our assistance programs can make a major contribution to that effort. We look forward enhancing our partnership with USG agencies to achieve these goals.
Related: Working Toward Policy Coherence