How United States Advances Civilian Security in 21st Century

With the recognition that the world is changing in the 21st century, the United States today emphasized that its foreign policy should also change to meet the demands of the changing society.

In her remarks on the Foreign Affairs Day at DC, Under Secretary Maria Otero for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights reiterated US Secretary Clinton’s speech that says “Our approach to foreign policy must reflect the world as it is, not as it used to be.”

There are two inescapable facts that set the parameters of foreign policy and development today:

Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero.

“First, no nation can meet the world’s challenges alone.” -Ms. Otero

Second, nations around the world are concerned with the same global threats, making wide-ranging and deep cooperation not just smart, but necessary, Ms. Otero cited.

She says these two facts demand a different global architecture – which in turn merits a different kind of global engagement in the 21st century.

“As we face ever-tightening budgets, we need to be efficient. We need to work more closely and collaboratively with non-governmental actors. As we face new threats and opportunities, we need to be nimble. And, if our action is to meet our ambition, we need to be effective.” -Ms. Otero

She stresses that the United States needs to employ (and deploy) its civilian power, leveraging the great work by the State Department, USAID and nearly 40 other domestic agencies that work with partner governments and organizations abroad.

At the State Department, elevating its civilian power means better understanding how US diplomats and policy makers are supporting governments as they provide for and protect their citizens, she noted.

So, how does US advance civilian security?

According to Ms. Otero, the pursuit of civilian security is grounded in the understanding that states will only achieve sustainable peace when they resolve the underlying grievances of individual.

“It also acknowledges that conflict and crisis are present in many countries around the world, and one of our foreign policy objectives should be to help prevent conflict or mitigate its occurrence.” -Ms. Otero

She stresses that states must need to build government institutions that can provide for those individuals.

This includes governments that respect basic rights of their citizens and civilian police forces rooted in the rule of law whose mission is to protect citizens, she added.

She highlighted that there are many parts of the State Department that are advancing some aspect of civilian security.

She adds that from the protection of human rights, to the provision of humanitarian aid, to combating human and drug trafficking, to improving law enforcement and the rule of law, to efforts that counter violent extremism, to work that helps punish crimes against humanity: each of these elements is one piece of the puzzle that helps governments create more just societies for their people.

“By pulling them together, under one Under Secretary, we have created a mechanism for a more holistic, coherent approach to support the protection of individuals and, ultimately, the stability of nations.” -Ms. Otero

The new J family, made up of five bureaus and three offices, enables greater collaboration and helps the US government be more effective and efficient in carrying out its policies, Ms. Otero stressed.

She also notes that as the American reorient themselves internally, the US government has also taken steps to shift its global engagement.

Following US long history of promoting global good governance, President Obama launched the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in September, along with 7 other like-minded governments and nine civil society organizations, Ms. Otero noted.

She says OGP aims to secure concrete commitments on transparency, openness and accountability from governments, developed hand-in-hand with civil society.

She cites that eight months since that launch, 55 governments have joined OGP and have made more than 250 commitments to open government.

“OGP stands out as a new kind of multilateral initiative for two reasons.” -Ms. Otero

According to Ms. Otero, US global engagement must mirror the people that it is interacting with and the populations it is trying to support.

She reports that globally, 60% of the world’s population is under 30.

Responding to that reality, Secretary Clinton launched an office of Global Youth Issues this year, she pointed out.

A third and final example of our new approach to global engagement is Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society, which is modeled on our bilateral dialogues with strategic countries around the world, Ms. Otero underlined.

She cites that Secretary Clinton recognizes the need to incorporate civil society into US policymaking process, so she has elevated US engagement with partners beyond the state.

She stresses that by elevating civilian power, focusing on civilian security, and engaging beyond traditional state actors, the US government is demonstrating through its policies and its action a 21st century approach to diplomacy, built on the strong foundation that all of you contributed to.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.