Posts Tagged 'Susan Rice'

Russian Civil Society Leaders Inspire

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaulRepost From Ambassador Michael McFaul 

Despite a packed G-20 schedule filled with meetings on economic issues and the situation in Syria, President Obama also took the time while in St. Petersburg to meet with representatives of Russia’s civil society. He holds such meetings in nearly every country he visits, because, as he told these leaders, he believes that “a country’s strength ultimately comes from its people and that as important as government is — and laws — what makes a country democratic and effective in delivering prosperity and security and hope to people is when they’ve got an active, thriving civil society.” These engagements are an opportunity not only to hear candid views about the country in which these representatives live, but also about the United States.

The meeting in St. Petersburg was no exception. The President, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and I met with a fascinating group of activists that included Boris Pustyntsev, Ivan Pavlov, Yevgeniya Chirikova, Yana Yakoleva, Dmitry Makarov, Igor Kochetkov, Yelena Milashina, Olga Lenkova, and Pavel Chikov. The group represented a broad cross-section of Russian NGOs and activists who work on issues such as human rights, the environment, media freedom, rights of business entrepreneurs, LGBT rights, and fighting corruption, racism, and discrimination.

Our colleagues gave President Obama a strong sense of the challenges facing civil society leaders in Russia today, especially new laws that place restrictions on foreign-funded NGOs and discriminate against the LGBT community. Like others around the world, the President has been following with particular concern the increased climate of intolerance and violence that have accompanied the new law affecting the LGBT community, and he had the chance to hear from two courageous LGBT activists from St. Petersburg who described the challenging environment for their work. Participants urged him to keep human rights, including LGBT rights, on his agenda; to correct mischaracterizations of American policy and laws (especially the false analogy between Russia’s “foreign agent” law and U.S. legislation on lobbying); to empower multilateral organizations to pressure the Russian government to meet its international commitments; and to stand up against discrimination and for freedom of assembly and expression.

The President learned not only about the situation in Russia but also how the Administration’s policies on the environment, whistle-blower protections, and Syria affect the work of civil society activists in Russia. President Obama acknowledged the complexities of balancing national security and individual rights on a variety of issues, but he also expressed faith in the power of American democratic institutions, including a free press, to provide the proper context for resolving specific issues and ultimately to make the American system more democratic. President Obama gave particular attention to the role of civil society in making governments more representative and accountable. He noted his own background as a community organizer, highlighting the significant and important role civil society plays in bettering the lives of ordinary people.

President Obama carefully took notes and responded to all of the questions raised during the meeting. He was clearly energized intellectually and inspired. A meeting planned for forty minutes turned into almost an hour-and-a-half interactive discussion. The President pledged to consider every concrete proposal and later tasked me to follow up on some practical ideas proposed by our roundtable participants.

In the car ride to the Air Force One after the event, the President commented on the articulate, passionate, and practical presentations these leaders had made, and we had a very wide-ranging discussion about civil society in Russia, civil society and human rights around the world, and democracy more generally. After two long days at the G-20, I was struck by how invigorated the President seemed after the discussion.

I thank our Russian participants for such a stimulating session and, like the President, applaud their courageous and important efforts in Russia.

Michael McFaul is Ambassador of the United States of America to the Russian Federation.

LGBT Groups Applaud Naming of Ambassador Susan Rice and Samantha Power to New Posts

Susan Rice and Samantha PowerJune 5, 2013 – The Council for Global Equality and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) applaud President Obama’s decision to name Ambassador Susan Rice, who currently serves as the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as his new national security adviser and to nominate Samantha Power, a longtime friend of the human rights community, to take her place as the next U.S. Ambassador to the UN.

Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, said: “We were pleased to honor Ambassador Rice with our Global Equality Award last year in recognition of her leadership and stalwart support for LGBT rights at the United Nations.  And the announcement today was certainly a double hit, as Samantha Power, who was nominated to take her place and serve as our next UN Ambassador, has been a great friend of LGBT rights – and of human rights for all – at the White House.  We couldn’t think of two stronger LGBT allies in the foreign policy world.”

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of IGLHRC, said, “Samantha Power has a proven track-record of support for US policies that affirm LGBT rights around the world, including by championing the first-ever strategic approach to LGBT rights in US foreign policy with the 2011 Presidential Memorandum.”[1]  Likewise, Stern noted, “Ambassador Rice has transformed the US’s engagement with LGBT rights at the UN, not only by fighting for IGLHRC to receive official UN accreditation but by fighting for every LGBT organization to receive the same opportunity.  Furthermore, her commitment to the issue resulted in the landmark decision of the UN General Assembly to condemn extrajudicial or arbitrary killings based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

In accepting the Global Equality award last year, Ambassador Rice noted that, “I am truly honored to receive this recognition, because LGBT rights has been one of my personal passions throughout my tenure at the United Nations and long before.”  She emphasized, “LGBT individuals around the world have sacrificed so much – including in some cases their lives – to seek and obtain their basic human rights.”

With the strong leadership of Ambassador Rice and Samantha Power over the past four years, the United States has finally joined governments from around the world in condemning violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and helping to institutionalize these long-neglected rights on the UN agenda.  The Council for Global Equality and IGLHRC look forward to working with Ambassador Rice and Samantha Power in their new positions as we continue to engage with the Obama Administration to advance global equality.

Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at LGBT Pride Month Reception

Amb. Susan Rice, United NationsRemarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at a LGBT Pride Month Reception Held by Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, at the State Department

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
Washington, DC
June 24, 2011

Thank you. It’s great to be with you here today. And I want to thank my IO colleague Chris Deutsch for that warm introduction and Jon Tollefson for everything he does to lead GLIFAA.

It’s particularly fitting that I am able to speak to this group today—exactly one week after the United Nations, for the first time in history, adopted a resolution dedicated to advancing the basic and fundamental human rights of LGBT persons. That vote at the Human Rights Council marked a major victory for defenders of human rights. It sent a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end. And for the first time ever, it commissioned a UN report to investigate the challenges that LGBT persons face.

This was more than just another vote in Geneva. That vote marked the beginnings of universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights as all human beings and entitled to the same protections as all human beings. The United Nations is finally beginning to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for LGBT persons—and as it does so, the world will become a safer, more just, and more humane place for all. Continue reading ‘Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice at LGBT Pride Month Reception’


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