HEARING OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY (D-MA)
WITNESS: SUSAN RICE, TO BE UNITED STATES REP. TO THE UNITED NATIONS
SEN. KERRY: This hearing will come to order, please. We have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. So we're one senator shy from a quorum, and while we wait for that one senator to arrive so that we can do the business portion of the meeting, I know that both of our senators -- we're delighted to welcome you, Senator Collins, Senator Bayh. Thanks for taking time to be here. They both have pressing schedules, so what we're going to do is let them make their opening introductions of Dr. Rice initially, and then as soon as the senator's here, we'll do the business meeting and then proceed to other openings and testimony.
So Senator Collins, thanks so much for taking time. We're glad you're here.
SEN. SUSAN M. COLLINS (R-ME): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, it is my privilege today to introduce Dr. Susan Rice, the President Elect's nominee to be the next United States ambassador to the United Nations. The people of Maine are proud of what this remarkable woman has accomplished in her distinguished career of service to our nation, and we take special pride in her strong ties to our state.
In order to fully describe Dr. Rice's accomplishments, first let me describe those ties, for they are the foundation of her character. Her grandparents immigrated from Jamaica to Portland, Maine in the early years of the 20th century. Like so many who have come to our shores, they came with little in their pockets, but with spirits overflowing with determination. On modest wages, they raised five children, and they believed that education was the key to the American dream.
Their four sons all graduated from Maine's Bowdoin College. Two became physicians, one an optometrist and one a college president. Their daughter, Dr. Rice's mother Lois, who is here today, was valedictorian of Portland High School and president of the study body at Radcliffe College. She is a former vice president of the college board and a former Advisory Council chairwoman of the National Science Foundation. She married Emit Rice, Dr. Rice's father, who is also here today, a retired senior vice president at the National Bank of Washington, and a former governor of the Federal Reserve.
The determination of Dr. Rice's grandparents to build a brighter future did not end with their own family. They founded a USO center for blacks in Portland during World War II and were active in the Portland branch of the NAACP. That determination to succeed and to contribute thrives in their granddaughter. Dr. Rice was valedictorian and a three sport athlete at the National Cathedral High School here in Washington. She graduated from Stanford where she was elected as the junior to Phi Beta Kappa and earned both a Masters degree and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes scholar.
After a stint at the global consulting first, MacKenzie Company, she joined the Clinton Administration as a member of the National Security Council staff. Dr. Rice then became the youngest person ever to serve as a regional assistant secretary of State, taking on the African Affairs portfolio at a particularly challenging time. Well, in that position Dr. Rice played a key role in addressing conflict resolution in Africa, helping to develop a U.S. response to conflicts in the Sudan and the Horn of Africa, and working to secure enactment of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. She was also the first American official ever to address the organization of African Unity Summit.
After her government service, Dr. Rice became a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and served as the senior foreign policy advisor to the President Elect during his campaign. Although, of course, I knew of Dr. Rice when she worked at the NSC, I first met her when we were both participants in a series of seminars sponsored by the Aspen Strategy Group. I was so impressed with her brilliance and nuanced insights as I listen to her discuss various foreign policy challenges. I knew at that time that she was a real star.
Dr. Rice would bring to this position experience, expertise, and enthusiasm that are especially crucial during these difficult times. She has special expertise in the challenges posed by weak and failed states, poverty, and global security threats, particularly in Africa. She is known for being direct, yet always diplomatic. She is not driven by rigid ideology, but rather by firm principles. She has a reputation as a key critical thinker who is always learning. Her intellect, experience, and character will serve our nation well.
Mr. Chairman, one of Dr. Rice's most recent visits to the state of Maine was exactly a year ago when she came to Portland to address the annual Martin Luther King breakfast. In her eloquent remarks she made clear that human rights are not to defined by race, ethnicity, or national borders, but rather are the universal birthrights of all mankind. To secure that birthright, she said, and I quote, "we can and we must overcome to the divisions of past centuries, as well as the traumas of the recent past."
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Lugar, I can think of no better message to convey to the United Nations and no better messenger than Dr. Susan Rice. I'm honored to present her to this distinguished committee, and I enthusiastically endorse her nomination. Thank you. Thanks to all the members of the committee.
SEN. KERRY: Well, thank you very much, Senator Collins. What a wonderful introduction. Remind me that if I am ever in need of an introduction, I want to put in my reservation right now. It doesn't get better than that. And really, you've given great, important background to the committee, and so we really appreciate that.
Senator Bayh, I think we'll go with yours just to keep the continuity, and then we'll interrupt for the business meeting and start again. Thank you.
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Lugar. Let me just say that in these difficult times for our nation we can be reassured that you're providing foreign policy leadership to our country.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you.
SEN. BAYH: Members of the committee, it's an honor to be before you today. I too have known Dr. Rice for many years and can attest from personal experience that she has the keen intellect, the strong work ethic, and the collegiality to be an outstanding ambassador to the United Nations.
Mr. Chairman, as you know very well, our nation faces a set of formidable trans-national challenges that threaten the security and prosperity of our people in the 21st century; terrorism, radicalism and extremism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global climate change, poverty and disease. These are problems that threaten our people, but cannot be solved by our government alone. The U.N. offers an important vehicle to assert American global leadership through collective action with other nations around the world.
President Elect Obama has rightly noted that the United Nations is an imperfect, but indispensable institution for advancing America's security. In the 21st century, our goal must be to make the United Nations a more effective mechanism to work with other nations to advance our interest in combating common threats.
Mr. Chairman, I believe we need an ambassador to the United Nations with a demonstrated ability to represent our country in the international community in a credible, forthright, and influential manner. Mr. Chairman, I believe Dr. Susan Rice is uniquely qualified to do exactly that.
Throughout her career in public service she has served with distinction. Her service includes key roles on the National Security Council as director for international organization and peacekeeping and senior director for African Affairs. In 1997, Dr. Rice became one of the youngest assistant secretaries of State in American history when she was appointed assistant secretary of State for African Affairs. In this role, she oversaw 43 U.S. embassies, 5,000 employees, and an annual operating budget of $260 million.
At a time when the United Nations is in great need of internal reform, Dr. Rice has proven that she is an adept and capable manager. She will help the United States strengthen the effectiveness of the United Nations, modernize it, and make it more capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century. That means implementing an agenda of management reform and working to strengthen its program capacities.
We're asking the United Nations now to do more than ever to promote global security, yet we have not aligned capabilities with the mandates that we have given U.N. missions. Dr. Rice has demonstrated the intellectual heft required of this position. As a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, she has written extensively on multilateral diplomacy and how to deal with the security challenges posed by failed states.
She will represent America's interests on the world stage thoughtfully and vigorously. Mr. Chairman, I've seen her in action, and I am pleased to report to the panel today that if confirmed, she will be a formidable negotiator and a skilled diplomat on our nation's behalf.
Last February, Dr. Rice and I sat together on a foreign policy panel, the U.S. Islamic World Forum in Doha. She attended as a representative of candidate Obama, and I represented Senator -- then candidate -- Clinton. Dr. Rice offered a spirited defense of America's prerogatives and a keen understanding of the importance of leveraging (buy-in ?) from the U.N. member states to tackle global security challenges.
Dr. Rice understand the myriad challenges facing the United States, and she is prepared to work with our allies around the globe to marshal world opinion and spur action to ensure our country's security. She also carries a currency invaluable in this endeavor; the ear and full confidence of the next President of the United States.
The United States will never ask permission to defend ourselves or our allies, yet the last eight years proves that there is great peril in acting alone in a dangerous world. We do not seek alliances because we are weak, but because acting with our friends and partners around the world makes us strong. It is important to use the United Nations as a vehicle to promote peace and stability, the prevention and resolution of conflict, and the stabilization of conflict zones once war has ended. It is in our interests to make the United Nations more effective in this regard.
President Elect Obama has outlined an ambitious agenda with respect to climate change, non-proliferation, poverty reduction, and strengthening the capacity of weak and failing states. All of these elements can and should be addressed in the U.N., as well as in other contexts. Dr. Susan Rice will strive to make the United Nations a more effective mechanism to advance our national security and meet global challenges. I have high confidence, Mr. Chairman, that if confirmed, Dr. Rice can help build new bridges to nations with whom we do not always agree while renewing America's leadership in the world.
Finally, and on a note that I think Senator Lugar can relate to well, I understand that back in the day Dr. Rice was a capable basketball player, which will endure her to the hearts of Hoosiers everywhere. (laughter) She's proven that she can succeed on some of the competitive things, some of the most competitive arenas. I'm confident she can in the United Nations as well.
So Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Lugar, it is my distinct pleasure to recommend to this committee that this committee confirm Dr. Susan Rice as our next ambassador to the United Nations. Thank you.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Bayh. We respect your observation about her athletic skill and regret to inform you that born in Portland, she is a Celtics fan.
SEN. BAYH: I did not say she was perfect, Mr. Chairman, only that she would be an exemplary U.N. ambassador.
SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible)
MS. RICE: Just for the record, I was born in Washington D.C.
SEN. KERRY: Oh, born in Washington, brought up --
MS. RICE: Bullet point.
SEN.: Bullet --
SEN. KERRY: There you go. Bullets --
SEN.: (And changed the name ?).
MS. RICE: (Then bullets ?).
SEN. KERRY: We thank both of you for your introductions today. You're both respected voices in the Senate on national security foreign policy issues, and so these introductions are important to us, and we're very, very grateful to you. We know you have other business, so we will excuse you while we begin quickly the business meeting, and then we'll come back to the hearing itself. But thank you for taking time to be here. We appreciate it.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: We will move now into the business meeting of the committee before we do the hearing for Dr. Rice. And that is to consider the nomination of Hilary Clinton to be secretary of State. I think everybody here from the comments I ready publicly and listened to here at the hearing all agreed that Senator Clinton did an outstanding job before the committee. And obviously, with respect to the foundation, Senator Lugar raised some important considerations as we go forward, and I'm confident that Senator Clinton is going to give those full consideration. And we joined in a bipartisan way in expressing the committee's concern about that issue.
Given the importance of having a national security team in place as rapidly as possible, what I would like to do today is be able to report -- to have a vote here that would put her nomination -- we don't have the formal papers until the President is sworn in on Tuesday, but we nevertheless want to be able to proceed immediately thereafter. So I would like to entertain a motion to be able to report her out of the committee pending receipt of those formal nomination papers on Tuesday.
And I would now open it up. I gather one or two senators might want to --
SEN.: So moved.
SEN. KERRY: It is moved, but -- and is it seconded?
SEN.: I second.
SEN. KERRY: It is seconded. And so, senator, would you have a comment?
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R-SC): Mr. Chairman, thank you. I appreciate your introduction, and I appreciate the way you've managed the hearing. Like I think most on this panel, I think Senator Clinton could be one of our best secretaries of State. I will support moving her out of committee, but I continue to have the concern that you've expressed, that this be dealt with in a way that goes further than has to this point.
Senator Lugar offered I think a very thoughtful and respectful approach, and so while I certainly will support moving her out of committee, I reserve the right to consider the changes that are made, because nothing could be worse than to take a wonderful talent like Senator Clinton and have a perception of a conflict of interest that doesn't exist. So with that, I do express my support to move from the committee --
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator DeMint, and we completely respect the point of view that you've just expressed, and obviously has been expressed by the committee itself. Is there any further comment? If there is no further comment, we will have a roll call vote. The clerk will call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Dodd?
SEN. CHRISTOPHER JOHN DODD (D-CT): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Feingold?
SEN. RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD (D-WI): Aye.
CLERK: Mrs. Boxer.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Nelson?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Menendez.
SEN.: Aye by proxy.
CLERK: Mr. Cardin?
SEN. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN (D-MD): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Casey?
SEN. ROBERT P. CASEY JR. (D-PA): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Webb?
SEN. JIM WEBB (D-VA): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Lugar?
SEN. RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Corker?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Voinovich.
SEN.: Votes aye by proxy.
CLERK: Mr. Murkowski?
SEN.: Votes aye by proxy.
CLERK: Mr. DeMint?
SEN. DEMINT: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Isakson?
SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Vitter?
SEN.: Votes no by proxy.
CLERK: Mr. Barrasso?
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Kerry.
SEN. KERRY: Aye. The clerk will report the roll.
CLERK: Sixteen ayes, one nay.
SEN. KERRY: By a vote of 16 to 1, Senator Clinton's nomination will therefore be reported subject to the nomination papers being received by the committee on Tuesday. I thank all my colleagues for their cooperation in this.
Senator Dodd has asked to -- point of personal privilege again -- as chairman of the Banking Committee, he's in the middle of major discussions and hearings, so I'd like to honor that. And Senator Dodd --
SEN. DODD: Well, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much, and I -- again, I'll be very, very brief. First of all, my apologies to you, Dr. Rice, and we're having the confirmation hearings for the nominee to be the chairman of the SEC, a Federal Reserve post, and three positions on the Council of Economic Advisors. So we have a full day on the Banking Committee before us, and I'm going to ask consent that an opening statement in support of your nomination be included in the record.
SEN. KERRY: Without objection.
SEN. DODD: And we'll have plenty of chances, I presume, in the coming days to talk and work together. So I congratulate you on accepting the nomination. I commend the President for suggesting your nomination to us, and we all look forward to working with you. And I think the statements of Senator Kerry, as I heard them -- Senator Bayh and Senator Collins I think expressed the views of all of us about the importance of this role, and we know you'll do an admirable job at it, so thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Dodd. It's my pleasure on behalf of the entire committee and the Senate to welcome you here, Dr. Rice. We're really pleased to see you here today. And obviously I can see that some members of your family are here, ranging up and down the generations I see. We'd love to have you introduce them, if you would. Can you just share with us quickly who they are, and then I'd like to say a few words, and I know Senator Lugar would too.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I really am very pleased and proud that my family can be here. I'd like to introduce my mother, Lois Rice, my father, Emit Rice, my son, Jake, my daughter, Merith (ph), and my husband, (Ian Camerons ?). They are a wonderful source of joy and support to me, and I couldn't imagine taking on this responsibility without them.
SEN. KERRY: Well, we're really happy to welcome all of you. I know how proud you are. I listened to all those youngest ever comments, and Senator Lugar and I were up here feeling grayer and grayer.
(laughter) But there's every reason to be enormously proud, and we welcome you.
As a point of personal privilege, I'd like to just say to members of the committee we're delighted to welcome our old colleague and friend -- Senator Tim Wirth is here, and in his role as president of the U.N. Foundation, which is a very important addendum to our efforts here, and we're delighted to welcome you back, senator.
The United States ambassador to the United Nations is without question one of the most important national security and diplomatic posts in the Administration and one from which there is an enormous ability to achieve a great deal. The Administration, the Obama Administration, has recognized this by rightfully restoring it to Cabinet level. And I believe that President Elect Obama has made an outstanding choice in Dr. Susan Rice.
I've had the pleasure of working closely with Dr. Rice over the past years, and I can tell you that she is exceptionally talented, fiercely conscientious, and one of the most dedicated public servants that I've met. She has been a trusted personal advisor, and I've worked with her closely on a special project outside of the Senate, and she's a friend. And I couldn't be happier than to welcome her here for confirmation for such a key position.
The choice of Dr. Rice for this elevated position is further evidence of the Obama Administration's commitment to a renewed diplomatic and multilateral presence on the world stage. The United Nations can play a crucial role in mobilizing the world to meet complex international issues that are critical to our national interests. From Iran's nuclear program to climate change to the crisis in Darfur and beyond, we are living in a world where the actions of a single nation are profoundly and increasingly inadequate to meet the challenges that we face.
As I and others have said, if there were no United Nations, we would have to invent one. It's in our national and morale interest to cultivate a forum where frozen conflicts can be resolved before they become hot wars, where peace can be forged and protected, where global consensus on trans-national threats and challenges can be translated into bold action, and where America can lead by working cooperatively with willing and able partners.
At its most effective, the U.N. can and will be vital to our interests. The world is changing, and it's changing rapidly. Narrower traditional notions of national interest are giving way to a broader, more holistic view, one that appreciates how the mass movements of people, melting icecaps, violent religious extremism, and global health challenges, like HIV/AIDS, are all interrelated facets of our security picture, and they all deserve greater attention.
That is the world that the next Administration inherits, and Dr. Rice brings a deep understanding to addressing these issues. In fact, her own writings and testimony on failed states and transnational challenges have helped to educate many of us about the new and inescapable global set of realities that we face. Dr. Rice brings insight and passion to an institution that will benefit from both.
There have long been values of our foreign policy debate that prefer that somehow we leave aside -- inadvertently I think, but they are often left aside -- certainly the rhetoric and the reality -- there's a gap between them. And there are many voices in that debate that prefer to dwell on all that the United Nations is not rather than how it does serve our interest today, or what it can become if we commit ourselves to strengthening it.
On the other hand, support for the United Nations must not lead us to whitewash the institution's shortcomings any more than we should obviously accept the blanket condemnations. In the end, it diminishes the work of many good people, and it really reduces our ability to make the institution what it can be. Support for the U.N. requires us to address the legitimate flaws, including corruption scandals, abuse by peacekeepers, and bureaucratic gridlock, not to mention a sometimes unbalanced approach to the Middle East and an unaccountable Human Rights Council.
Sometimes, also, working through the United Nations has proved frustrating when it comes to addressing humanitarian crises in places like Burma, Darfur, and Zimbabwe, and threats like Iran's nuclear program. Clearly, today we look forward to Dr. Rice's thoughts on how we can all join together to enhance the U.N.'s ability to deal with each of these issues multilaterally.
But as we work toward making the U.N. and more effective and efficient body, we absolutely should not lose sight of the many ways in which it currently serves our interests. From managing over 90,000 peacekeepers in 16 missions around the world despite chronic under funding to providing food and shelter to over eight million refugees worldwide, to monitoring elections in Iraq, to much needed coordination efforts in Afghanistan, the U.N. and its affiliated agencies take on issues that no nation can or should take on alone. And in many cases, it is the best equipped and the only multilateral institution capable of doing so.
The United Nations also advances important international norms that will benefit all nations. A U.N. panel of top scientists ratifies the world's consensus on the threat of global climate change. The U.N.'s championing of core principles of nuclear non-proliferation are vital, as well as the indispensable work of the IAEA's monitoring compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. All of these have significantly improved our security. And the U.N. also plays a critical role in advancing causes that everyone should be able to agree on; the fight against global hunger, global poverty, and the fight for global health.
The United States' support for the U.N. is critical. We are the largest contributor to both the regular and peacekeeping budgets at 22 percent and 27 percent respectively. However, we are routinely behind in those payments, and we handicap the United Nations in doing so. The Administration's budget requests in recent years, particularly for peacekeeping, have not been enough to pay our bill. That's wrong. If we expect the United Nations to fulfill its important missions, we need to do better by upholding our end of the bargain, and that means paying our share in full and on time.
Representing American at a body as complex as the United Nations is a huge challenge. I am absolutely confident that Dr. Rice is up to that challenge. She has served in senior positions, on the National Security Council, and as referenced, as the youngest ever assistant secretary of State. She was responsible for U.S. policy toward 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, including 43 embassies, over 5,000 foreign service employees, an operating budget over $100 million, and a program budget of approximately $160 million.
Dr. Susan Rice is one of our most capable national security thinkers. She understands that our country is stronger when we enlist others in our cause, when we share our burdens, and when we lead strategically. It's my pleasure to support her nomination as U.N. ambassador, one who brings both vital respect for the U.N. and the courage to challenge it and improve it. And I look forward to confirming her as our next ambassador to the United Nations.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Mr. Chairman, I join you in your warm welcome to Dr. Susan Rice. We first met as members of a selection committee for Rhodes scholars interviewing the distinguished students and making a selection, and I appreciated that day with Dr. Rice and have appreciated her testimony before this committee over the course of the years, most recently on Darfur in 2007 when she brought considerable insight to those proceedings.
The position of ambassador to the United Nations is unique, as you pointed out, Mr. Chairman, among diplomatic assignments. Its acumen is responsible not only for conducting diplomacy on most of the critical foreign policy issues of the day, but also for United States stewardship of a multilateral institution that plays a central role in global affairs.
The diplomatic challenges that will face our nominee include the nuclear confrontations with Iran and North Korea, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, refugee crises related to Iraq, Darfur, and other locations, and numerous other problems that confront the United Nations every day.
And while we all hope for a United Nations that can fulfill this potential as a forum for international problem solving and dispute resolution, often the U.N. has fallen short of our hopes, particularly in areas related to management, to financial transparency and oversight, to the influence and capabilities possessed by the United Nations come from the credibility associated with countries acting together in a well-established forum with well-established rules. Scandals, mismanagement, bureaucratic stonewalling squander this precious resource.
This committee and others in Congress have spent much time examining how the United States can work cooperatively with partners at the U.N. to streamline its bureaucracy, improve its transparency, and make it more efficient as it undertakes vital missions.
I recently read in the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal reports that the General Assembly shut down the U.N.'s procurement task force that was rooting out corrupt U.N. officials and had banned 36 international companies from further business with the United Nations. Regrettably, it appears that the U.N. has already begun to curtail or terminate many of the task force ongoing investigations. Many barriers exist to successful U.N. reform. Too many diplomats and bureaucrats in New York see almost any structural or budgetary change at the U.N. as an attempt to diminish their prerogatives.
Our next ambassador must be dedicated to continuing meaningful reform at the U.N. in spite of the daunting atmosphere. Our atmosphere must be -- our ambassador must be a forceful advocate for greater efficiency and transparency and an intolerance of corruption. The performance of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva also continues to be a source of concern in the Congress and among the American people. Sessions of the Council have focused almost exclusively on Israel.
Much less well-known is the role of the United Nation's Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Affairs Committee in New York, which has voted in the past to condemn the deplorable human rights situations in Iran, North Korea, Belarus, and Burma, countries which the Human Rights Council in Geneva has often ignored.
Now, despite these and other difficulties, the United Nations remains an essential component of global security policy. The World Health Organization, the World Food Program, for example, have performed vital functions, reduced U.S. burdens, and achieved impressive humanitarian results for many years. The United Nations peacekeeping missions have contributed significantly to international stability and helped rebuild shattered societies.
Currently, there are 16 peacekeeping operations ranging from Haiti to the Congo to East Timor. And some 100,000 civilian, military, and police forces from around the world are helping to stabilize some of the most war-ravaged places on our earth. In 2008, there were 130 peacekeeping fatalities, the second highest level since 1994.
The ability of U.N. peacekeeping missions to be a force multiplier was underscored by a 2006 General Accounting Office analysis of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti. The GAO concluded -- and I quote -- "The U.N. budgeted $428 million for the first 14 months of the mission. A U.S. operation of the same size in duration would've cost an estimated $876 million," end of quote. The report noted the U.S. contribution to the Haiti peacekeeping mission was $116 million, roughly one eighth the cost of a unilateral American mission.
Now, most Americans want the United Nations to help facilitate international burden sharing in times of crisis. They want the U.N. to be a consistent and respected forum for diplomatic discussions, and they expect the U.N. to be a positive force in the global fight against poverty, disease and hunger. But Americans also are frequently frustrated with the United Nations, and the job of the United States ambassador to the U.N. involves not only dealing with policies and politics in New York, our U.S. ambassador must also be able to communicate to Congress and to the American people why it's important to pay our U.N. dues on time, why peacekeeping operations benefit the United States, why cooperation at the U.N. is essential to United States foreign policy.
I welcome the distinguished nominee, look forward to hearing how she and the Obama Administration intend to address these important issues. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Lugar, and now Dr. Rice, we look forward to your testimony. Thank you.
MS. RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Lugar, and distinguished members of the committee. I'm really deeply honored to appear before you as President Elect's designee to be the United States permanent representative to the United Nations. I want to thank the President Elect for his confidence in naming me to this vitally important position.
Mr. Chairman, my warmest congratulations to you as the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. You've been an ardent champion of a principled U.S. foreign policy to ensure this country's security and prosperity. There's a great tradition of probity on this committee dating back to Senator Fulbright. The man seated next to you, Senator Lugar, continued that tradition through his years as chairman, and I know you will do with great distinction as well.
I'm very grateful to you both for convening this hearing swiftly to consider my nomination. I also want to express my gratitude to Senator Susan Collins and Senator Evan Bayh for their very, very generous introductions of me and for their extraordinary service to our country. I'm very appreciative of their support.
Mr. Chairman, like many Americans, I first heard of the United Nations as a child about the age of my daughter, Merith. My initial images of the U.N. were not of the blue helmets of its peacekeepers or the white vehicles of its life saving humanitarian workers. But the orange and black of the UNISEF boxes I carried door-to-door each Halloween. UNICEF and the U.N. embodied to me then as it does still today our shared responsibility to one another as human beings and our collective potential and indeed obligation to forge a more secure, more just, and more prosperous future.
As I grew up during the Cold War, I saw the U.N. frequently paralyzed by geopolitical and ideological show-downs between the United States and the Soviet Union. Later with the fall of the Berlin wall, I joined millions in hoping that the vital mission of the U.N. could be advanced through enhanced cooperation.
Serving in the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, I had the opportunity to gain first hand an appreciation of the organization's strengths and understanding of its weaknesses. In the wake of the Cold War, the U.N. was modernized in important ways and did substantial good from Namibia to Mozambique, from El Salvador to South Africa and Cambodia. At the same time, there were clear failures witnessed in the unimaginable human tragedies of Somalia, Rwanda, and Srebrenica and in the inability to deal effectively with crises in Angola and Haiti.
Mr. Chairman, I believe we now stand at yet another defining moment. Terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, civil conflict, climate change, genocide, extreme poverty, and deadly disease are global challenges that no single nation can defeat alone. They require common action based on a common purpose and a vision of shared security.
If confirmed, I welcome the challenge and will be humbled by the privilege to serve our country at the United Nations where I will work to promote and implement President Elect Obama's commitment to strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity.
More than 60 years ago, our leaders understood that a global institution that brings all of the world's countries together would enhance, not diminish, our influence and bring more security to our people and to the world. The President Elect has affirmed America's commitment to the United Nations as an indispensable, if imperfect, institution for advancing America's security and wellbeing in the 21st century.
The goal of our diplomacy at the United Nations must be to make it a more perfect forum to address the most pressing global challenges, to promote peace, to support democracy, and to strengthen respect for human rights.
My most immediate objective, should I be confirmed, will be to refresh and renew America's leadership in the United Nations and bring to bear the full weight of our influence, voice, resources, values, and diplomacy at the United Nations.
The choices we face in addressing global challenges can often by difficult, allowing conflict and suffering to spread, mobilizing an American response, or supporting a multi-national United Nations effort. The U.N. is a not a cure-all. We must be clear-eyed about the challenges it faces. But it is a global institution that can address a tremendous range of critical American and international interests.
I know the U.N. sometimes deeply frustrates Americans, and I am acutely aware of its shortcomings, yet all nations understand the importance of this organization. And that, ironically, is why countries like Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba work so hard to render bodies like the U.N. Human Rights Council ineffective and objectionable. It's why efforts to pass Security Council resolutions on abuses in places like Zimbabwe are Burma occasion such fierce debates. It's also why many try to use the U.N. willfully and unfairly to condemn our ally, Israel.
When effective and principled U.N. action is blocked, our frustration naturally grows, but that should only cause us to redouble our efforts to ensure that the United Nations lives up to its founding principles. Today there's more on the agenda of the United Nations that ever before. Nearly 90,000 U.N. peacekeepers are deployed in 16 missions around the world. The U.N. is playing a vital role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the United Nations is at the center of global efforts to address climate change and prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to stabilize weak and failing states, prevent and resolve conflict, reduce poverty, combat HIV/AIDS, assist refugees and the internally displaced, feed the hungry, promote food security, and confront genocide and crimes against humanity.
If confirmed, Mr. Chairman, I'll work to strengthen the U.N.'s effectiveness to fulfill its many important missions, and working closely with the secretary of State, I will devote particular attention to four areas; first, I will work to improve the capacity of the United Nations to undertake complex peace operations more effectively. We need to weigh new U.N. mandates more carefully and review existing mandates as they come up for renewal. The fact that more than one year after the force was established the crucial U.N. mission in Darfur is only at half strength is patently unacceptable.
We will work to build global peacekeeping capacity and help streamline the U.N.'s as well as our own procedures for deploying and supporting U.N. missions. Second, the Obama Administration will provide strong leadership to address climate change. Under President Elect Obama, the United States will engage vigorously in U.N.- sponsored climate negotiations while we pursue progress in sub-global, regional, and bilateral settings.
To tackle global warming, all major emitting nations must be part of the solution. Rapidly developing economies, such as China and India, must join in making and meeting their own binding and meaningful commitments. And we should help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. If confirmed, I look forward to advancing the diplomatic and development elements of the President's climate change agenda.
Third, preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons is an enormous security challenge that deserves top level attention. Senator Lugar, thanks to your bold leadership and vision and that of others, we have made some meaningful progress in this regard, but the threat remains urgent. It's essential to strengthen the global non- proliferation and disarmament regime, dealing with those nations in violation and upholding our obligations to work towards the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
The United Nations plays a significant role in this regime. Our objective is to lay the groundwork for a successful non-proliferation treaty review conference in 2010, one that advances the world's non- proliferation and disarmament architecture and improves it for the 21st century.
Fourth, billions of the world's people face the threats of poverty, disease, environmental degradation, venal leadership, extremism, corruption and violence. Conflict-ridden and fragile states can incubate these and other threats that rarely remain confined within national borders. President Elect Obama has long stressed the importance of working with others to promote sustainable economic development to combat poverty, enhance food and economy security, including by making the millennium development goals America's goals. If confirmed, I look forward to working with member states to advance this critical agenda at the United Nations.
Regional political and security challenges will inevitably remain a central element of the U.S. agenda at the United Nations. Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon demands the urgent attention of the Security Council. Multilateral pressure is needed to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons program. A strengthened U.N. role in Afghanistan and Iraq will support elections and strengthen political institutions. The ongoing genocide in Sudan, the persistent violence in Eastern Congo, and the persecution of innocence in Zimbabwe and Burma all require much more effective action by the international community.
And recent events remind us yet again of the importance of working to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve their goal of a peaceful, two-state solution that achieves lasting security for Israel and a viable state for the Palestinians. I will work to enable the United Nations to play a constructive role in pursuit of this goal.
The Obama Administration will also promote democracy, understanding that the foundations of democracy are best seeded from within. We will stand up for human rights around the world. Thus, we will work closely with friends, allies, the United Nations secretariat and others to seek to improve the performance and the prospects of the Human Rights Council, which has strayed so far from the principles embodied in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
The United States will address all of these challenges unencumbered by the old divisions of the 20th century. We cannot afford any longer to be burdened by labels, such as rich and poor, developed or developing, north or south, non-aligned or western. In the 21st century these false divisions rarely served anybody's interests. In facing the challenges of the scale that lie before us, all peoples and all nations should focus on what we have in common; our shared desires to live freely and securely in health with hope and opportunity. Those are the interests and aspirations of the American people, and they are shared by billions around the world.
Mr. Chairman, the United Nations must be strengthened to meet 21st century challenges. In cooperation with other governments, we will pursue substantial and sustained improvements across the full range of management and performance challenges. Important work on all these issues has been undertaken, but we have much farther to go. Progress are reform are essential to address flaws in the institution, to meet the unprecedented demands made on it, and to sustain confidence in and support for the U.N.
I pledge to you to work tirelessly to see that the American taxpayers' dollars are spent wisely and effectively. To lead from a position of strength, the United States must consistently act as a responsible, fully engaged partner in the U.N. President Elect Obama believes that the United States should pay our dues to the U.N. in full and on time. I look forward to working with you and other members of Congress to ensure that we do so, as well as to pay down our newly mounting arrears and to support legislation to permanently lift the cap on U.S. payments to the United Nations peacekeeping budget.
If confirmed, I'll have the great privilege of leading our hardworking and dedicated team at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. I intend to work with the secretary of State to attract our best diplomats to serve at the mission. I will also work to ensure that the new U.S. mission building is completed as expeditiously as possible and provides our diplomats with the tools they need to be safe, effective and successful.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, if I am confirmed, I will be an unflinching advocate of America's interests and values at the United Nation. As I seek to maximize cooperation to address the most serious global challenges we confront, I will listen. I will engage. I will collaborate. I will go to the U.N. convinced that this institution has great current value, even greater potential, and still great room for improvement.
I commit to being direct and honest in New York and always forthright with Congress. I will welcome the advice and support of members of this committee.
I look forward to working closely with each of you. And I invite each of you to come to New York to contribute directly to our shared efforts to strengthen and support this important institution.
Mr. Chairman, if confirmed, it will be my highest honor to support our country's interest in renewing our global leadership and affecting critical and lasting change. In the 21st century we can and we must transcend old barriers, build new bridges, strengthen our common security, and invest in our common humanity.
I thank you. I'd like to ask that my entire statement be submitted for the record, and I'm very pleased now to answer your questions.
SEN. KERRY: Thanks so much, Dr. Rice. Your entire record will be put in the record as if read in full, and we appreciate your summary enormously. And I have no doubt that the things you've said you will do, you're going to work to do, particularly work tirelessly. That I understand.
Let me ask you, first of all -- for me, and I think for a lot of us -- you spoke to this a little bit in your comments just now, acknowledging the frustration that many of us sometimes feel. I think these last eight years have been particularly frustrating because it seems somehow that the entire international community has lost the ability to act on its outrage. I don't doubt that the outrage expressed by a lot of countries is sincere, including our own, but Darfur, Zimbabwe, Burma, just to mention a few, now the Eastern Congo -- it's stunning, shocking what occurs on a daily basis in terms of the young people being given guns and rampaging through villages, rag- tag armies that really aren't that strong. They're certainly not that organized. And yet, those who are organized and who are strong don't seem to mobilize. And the caring is reserved to the rhetoric, not to the reality of action.
I was really surprised. I'd been in South Africa and Botswana and come back and was in Sharm El Sheikh right at the time that the African Union was meeting there. And it was the day after the Zimbabwe election. I met with President Mubarak and asked him how they and he could receive -- Mr. Mugabe -- almost as if nothing had happened, despite the fact that he had openly talked about stealing an election because of the power of a bullet. And the disrespect that he showed openly to the electoral process and to the people of his own country -- and people just went on as if it was business as usual.
So the pregnant question I think for a lot of us is what do you intend to do? What do you really realistically believe can be done so that under the Obama Administration this will be different? What is going to be different with respect to Darfur, Zimbabwe, the Congo, just to take those three, starting on January 20th of next week?
MS. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That's a vitally important question. And there are multiple aspects to it. First of all, the United States will lead at the United Nations with a respect for the institution and a determination to make it work. With respect to these thorny challenges of peacekeeping in the context of Darfur and Congo and autocracy in the context of Zimbabwe, a common thread runs through these challenges. And it is twofold.
We need as an international community not only to build additional capacity to be able to address these challenges on a timely basis on the ground, peacekeeping capacity -- because part of the problem we face in Darfur and Congo is a lack of ready, trained, equipped troops to deploy to these operations on a timely basis. Building greater capacity globally is in our interests. It's in the interests of all United Nations member states, and it is something that we have in the past contemplated and even made early steps towards achieving, but have not pursued in a sustained and collective fashion. This is not a challenge for the United States alone. It's one that our partners and allies need to join us in, and it's one I'm very committed to working on.
The other half of the challenge, though, Mr. Chairman, is that of will, political will. It's not uncommon to hear quite moving speeches given in the halls of the Security Council, but there is a deficit of determination to take the difficult steps to call to account dictators, such as Robert Mugabe, to demand that his illegitimate government step down and honor the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
And we need to lead from a position of moral strength to bring others along with us. I hope very much, Mr. Chairman, that under President Elect Obama's leadership we will engage more actively with the countries in Southern Africa and bring their often private condemnation into the public sphere. We need them to work with us and others to bring the necessary pressure to bear on that regime so that the people of Zimbabwe's suffering can finally end.
And we also need to strengthen the will of the international community to do what is necessary in places like Congo and Darfur. We finally now have agreement that there ought to be increased peacekeeping operations there. That's progress, but now the implementation challenge of putting the troops on the ground remains.
SEN. KERRY: Well, thank you. It's an important statement, and I want to try to flesh it out a little bit if we can. Let me just say to my colleagues we're going to do a ten-minute round so that colleagues can think about being here, and Dr. Rice, let me just say -- I think you know this, but I want to make it part of the record that we have about five competing nomination hearings today, which is why colleagues are coming and going, and I know you understand that and respect it, but I want the record to reflect it.
You talked about building greater capacity. I happen to believe very deeply -- we don't have to argue about it here, but if we weren't in Iraq or hadn't made that commitment, I think the options and possibilities might have been considerably different with respect to some of these interventions. But we are where we are, and so I want to ask you what shape do you believe that greater capacity takes? Are you talking blue helmet? Are you talking about joint operations conceivably? Are you talking about in some places, as in Eastern Europe -- we've extended the NATO presence and so forth. Give us a sense of how you view that capacity.
MS. RICE: Well, senator, that capacity can and should come from various different parts of the world. The bulk of peacekeeping troops now are contributed by a handful of countries in South Asia and in Africa. And yet, we have largely tapped out the capacity within Africa, for example, to address the peacekeeping shortfalls in many of the conflicts which are in Africa. African governments have indicated a desire and a willingness to contribute more, but they may not have the equipment or the training or the interoperability to enable them to do so on short notice and effectively.
You may recall that at the G8 Summit a few years ago in Sea Island, Georgia, we and other G8 partners made a commitment to build five regional brigades within Africa, brigades that would be interoperable and equipped and standing and ready to deploy swiftly if national governments made the decision to do so. Well, we haven't quite fulfilled that commitment. We have gotten diverted along the way, as have our European partners.
Redoubling our determination to build that sort of capacity with other countries is an example of the sort of support I think we can provide. Training, logistics, lift, equipment -- we've done some of that, to the Bush administration's credit, in various one-off instances, but we haven't achieved a systematic strengthening of global peacekeeping capacity in Africa and beyond.
SEN. KERRY: Well, we wish you well with that. It's going to be an enormous undertaking, but I couldn't agree more that the ability to move -- and I'll come back to it, perhaps, in another round a little bit, but I want to go to one other area.
You talked about the bringing pressure to bear, and I agree. We have to bring some pressure to bear, particularly when you look at the UN Security Council relationships to see a China or a Russia veto on something that most people believe violates universal principles of behavior and so forth is disappointing. To what degree, though, does our current economic crisis, the fact that both of those countries have important economic relationships to us -- China is one of our bankers of preference, and we are relying on them significantly with respect to the purchase of American debt. To what degree do those interconnected realities condition the level of pressure that you can actually bring in order to get the outcome that we need on some of these other issues, and are you concerned about that as you go forward?
MS. RICE: It's a very important question, and it's a tough challenge. There's no doubt.
We have a complex set of interests and relationships with other major countries -- notably, China and Russia -- and there will be instances in which we agree and are able to work together, and there will be instances in which we disagree, and we will stand our ground and stand up for our values.
But I think the challenge is to use effective, sometimes quiet, diplomacy to try to maximize their willingness to join with us on issues that are not central to their vital national security or to ours. There is no logical reason why it must remain that Russia and China, for instance, are unable to separate themselves from the regime of Robert Mugabe. China has a long relationship, Russia does, going back to the liberation struggle, but those two countries have grown and evolved, and Zimbabwe has devolved to a place where their interests, frankly, no longer coincide.
And my view is if, for instance, the countries of southern Africa were to speak strongly with one voice and say to the international community, including Russia and China, with whom they have close economic ties, that "it is now in our shared interest to support a peaceful transition in Zimbabwe to a democratically-elected government," that "we are no longer going to stand by while great human suffering persists and cholera pours across our shared border," then I think China and Russia will have more interest in those regional relationships than they will in maintaining strong support for a regime that is clearly not long for this world.
SEN. KERRY: Well, we certainly hope so and wish you well in that effort, and I know the committee will work very closely with you to try to help leverage that.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, I am concerned that the United Nations is beginning to fail to follow up on significant progress made by the Procurement Task Force. Now specifically, Ms. Rice, in your written response to an earlier question for the record, on the list of corrupt companies who have been suspended from further business with the UN, you indicated that this list is not made public. The list is not even shared with member states, and I would have hoped under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's leadership, the obvious sunshine policies would have been enacted.
Now, specifically, you do mention in your response that the list of companies is shared with other UN funds and programs. The World Health Organization, for example, or UNDP are committed to abstaining from conducting business with those banned companies, as well as their compliance, or is it just simply voluntary, and what comment do you have, really, about the entire secrecy or non-transparency of this process?
MS. RICE: Well, Senator Lugar, I think you're right to point to that as a source of concern. The United States has fought for and, under President-elect Obama, will remain committed to increasing transparency within the United Nations system. Under President Bush, we have pressed for more accountability, more sharing of information with member states, and this must remain an important point of our discussion and engagement with the secretary-general and the institution, as a whole.
You spoke about the Procurement Task Force. This was a body created in 2006 after the Oil-for-Food scandal. And it's done a very credible job of highlighting over $650 million in faulty contracts. Its work now has come to a formal end in its current construct as it was supposed to do. It wrapped up on schedule.
Now, the challenge is ensuring that as it's folded into the investigative division of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, that the people and the institutional knowledge which have enabled the Task Force to be effective are not lost and that the work can continue until it's completed. And I, if confirmed, Senator, look forward to getting a full briefing on the internal dynamics on the personnel questions, which I understand are of concern to you and other members of Congress, and to press for ensuring that our tax dollars are well- spent, that the procurement functions continue to be conducted in a more transparent fashion, and that we, as the largest-paying member state and other member states, have the ability to see and know what is going on inside the institution.
SEN. LUGAR: I appreciate that answer because, obviously, I would think everyone in the world is concerned about corruption of the monies that are being spent in difficult places, but these are factors that we've tried to survey in our own government, as with the contracts in Iraq, for example, we've been exploring. But then, I made the point -- and I -- you'll agree that there is an obligation on your part to the American people to report about all of this because taxpayer funds of all Americans are involved, and the idea of transparency, in which it seems to be hidden behind the doors of the UN, really won't work. So I challenge your ingenuity and your diplomacy, once again, to sort of chip the doors open, have a new era -- Ambassador Rice era, in which we really have more confidence on the part of the American public and in business dealings, which are very considerable.
Now, you have indicated also, in a response for the record, that you intend to pursue pragmatic working relationships with other member of the security counsel, cited specifically, of course, the importance of those relations with Russia and China. How do you believe the United States can be more effective in dealing with Russia and China?
Now, you've already cited one instance in which, perhaps, you might talk about Zimbabwe with these countries and the coincidence, or lack of it, of interests that they may have, and that may be a pragmatic way of prying the door open there, too. But frequently, the frustration of the rest of the world, apart from the United States, comes from vetoes of Russia or China with Security Council resolutions in which action, therefore, is immobilized. So discuss for a moment your thoughts about these pragmatic conversations with the Russian and Chinese delegates.
MS. RICE: Well, Senator, thank you.
Part of this is embedded in a larger challenge of trying to renew and refresh these critical bilateral relationships. In some instances, they're relationships that have been very fraught of late. In other instances, you know, we found ways to cooperate, for example, with China on a number of important issues like North Korea, but we haven't yet unlocked the door to sufficient cooperation in other areas.
I, as the US Ambassador at the United Nations, if confirmed, will reach out very early to my Russian and Chinese counterparts. I want good working relationships with them. I want honesty and transparency, and I want to minimize surprises. And I'm very well aware that there will be times when our interests diverge and when we can't reach agreement.
But I think, frankly, with a new openness, a respect for what these nations' interests are and what their hopes and aspirations are and recognizing that in many, many spheres, we share common concerns and common interests, whether we're talking about nonproliferation, arms control, dealing with challenges like climate change. Senator, you mentioned the global economy. These are areas where we do have many shared concerns, even as we differ, sometimes quite starkly, on issues of human rights and regional security. But the aim must be to try to maximize those areas of cooperation, not to fight ever battle with equal vigor, to pick those which matter most to our interests and values, and to minimize differences where possible, and that's what I'll do if I'm fortunate to serve our nation at the United Nations, and that's what, as you heard from Senator Clinton, the Obama administration will do more broadly in the context of our overall bilateral relationships.
SEN. LUGAR: In a particularly difficult instance of what you've just discussed, in late December, Russia blocked efforts to extend the OSCE's observer mission in Georgia, following Georgian and Russian activity in 2008. The UN peacekeeping mission in the Abkhazia region of Georgia is now set to expire on February 15th, and that mission of some 450 observers and support staff has proved a useful, neutral instrument in the region. And this month, likewise, the OSCE, which I've already cited will be dismantling 140 observers who have been in place since 1992. What can you comment about the fate of the UN mission with regard to Georgia, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia?
MS. RICE: Well, Senator, it will be our objective to seek the renewal of those operations, which, as you point out, have served a very important function. As a matter of broad policy, as President- elect Obama has said in many instances, we stand firmly in support of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We think that there is no place in the 21st century for aggression or intimidation of sovereign states, and that's an important principle that we will stand by and uphold, even as we seek improved cooperation with Russia and other countries on a wide range of issues. We hope very much to be able to work with Russia in the Security Council and with others towards agreement to renew this operation and take it off the agenda as a potential point of disagreement between our countries.
SEN. LUGAR: Finally, you've mentioned in the questions for the record the issues of Security Council reform -- (inaudible) -- for change in size, structure. Do you have any general feeling about the Security Council proposition?
MS. RICE: Well, it's important to be clear that the incoming administration has not taken any specific position on the nature of Security Council reform. President-elect Obama and all of us recognize that the Council of today, quite logically, ought to be something that looks a little bit different from the Council as it was created 60-plus years ago when the United Nations had only 50 member states. The world has changed, relationships have changed. We now have an organization of over 190 members. And certainly, it is in our interest for the institution to remain fresh and legitimate and representative of the 21st century in which we live.
That said, it's critically important that any Security Council reform not undermine the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the Council. We have a strong stake in that council being able to operate on a timely basis and take swift and meaningful action. So that will guide our approach to UN Security Council reform.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Lugar.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As she well knows, I am very pleased that Dr. Susan Rice has been nominated to be our ambassador to the United Nations. I have known Susan Rice for a long time and was lucky enough to travel with her and then United Nations Ambassador Holbrook to several African countries in 1999, including a particularly memorable long conversation with President Rob Mugabe, where we got a little sense of just how disturbing the future might be. And that was a very regrettable thing to watch to start to happen, but our purpose, actually, was to try to -- on the trip was to try to bring peace to eastern Congo and that region. Unfortunately, a decade later, there is still grave instability in Central Africa, but Dr. Rice, if you're confirmed, I look forward to working with you again on these efforts.
I'm also very pleased that the President-elect has decided to restore the UN Ambassador position to Cabinet rank, as it was under President Clinton. This decision is an indication of his strong commitment to multilateralism and to collaboration with our friends and our allies.
Dr. Rice, as you well know, efforts to impose stronger multilateral sanctions on Iran at the Security Council have been repeatedly delayed and diluted. I have supported stronger multilateral sanctions on Iran. Unfortunately, the Bush administration saber rattling has undermined these efforts. I would like to hear your thoughts today on what steps the new administration intends to take at the Security Council with regard to Iran and what you believe to be the greatest challenge you would face in trying to shore up support from other permanent members of the Security Council.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Senator Feingold, and then you for your kind words.
The broad challenge with respect to Iran is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to reduce its destabilizing engagement in neighboring countries and its support for terrorism. With respect to its efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon, the President-elect has said very forcefully that that is a grave threat to the United States, to Israel, to the region, and Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon is not an acceptable outcome. The challenge is how best to prevent it.
And the President-elect has said that it is time that we combined tough, direct, robust diplomacy with increased sanctions and pressure to try to elicit a change of course from the Iranian regime. We are interested in seeing what progress can be made from such a new approach.
Now, to buttress those efforts, we will look to the Security Council and, indeed, to our partners and friends outside of the Security Council to consider what package of pressures and incentives would best accomplish that goal. This needs to be a collective effort. We want to continue to work in the context of the E3 plus 3 and concert our diplomacy and concert our pressures.
With respect to particular pressures or incentives, Senator, we will conduct and complete, early on, a review that will inform that choice. It would be premature for me to speculate on the specifics of that here today.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Well, another area where that may be occurring in the near future is an area we've discussed, which is Somalia and the Horn of Africa have been, as you know, very critical. The current administration's fragmented and counterproductive approach to Somalia and the Horn, and the situation in Somalia is actually far worse than two years ago. Somalis are considered a moderate people, but violent extremists have gained traction in much of the country, posing a potential threat to our own national security.
Now, with the Ethiopian forces withdrawing, the current administration is strongly pushing for the authorization of a United Nations peacekeeping force for Somalia. Now, I support the current AU force, but I do have some worries that authorizing UN force poses real risk without committed troops and a viable and inclusive political process and a comprehensive strategy. If you could give me just your views at this point on the merits of such a peacekeeping force and what do you see as the way forward for UN action regarding Somalia.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Senator.
Well, as you well know, having spent so much time working on Africa and having traveled to Djibouti recently and met with many of the Somali players, this is an enormously difficult and important challenge that the international community faces. We have multiple and important interests in Somalia. First all, obviously, we have a deep concern for the humanitarian suffering of the Somali people who are displaced, who are lacking in food and who are living in the context of complete state collapse and failures. And ensuring that there is the continued flow of humanitarian assistance to those in need is no small challenge.
Secondly, we obviously have an interest in helping to see that there is the sort of political reconciliation and outcome that's necessary for the state, which is all but collapsed, to come together and that competing factions an unite behind a common central government. That is at risk, as well. And our efforts in that regard need to be sustained and high-level.
And thirdly, we face a very serious counterterrorism challenge in Somalia, as you well know, with extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda, training and operating in substantial portions of southern Somalia, and that has the potential to pose a serious and direct threat to our own national security. So what we need to fashion, as you suggest, is a multifaceted approach that combines efforts at emergency relief with efforts at political reconciliation and to deal effectively with the terrorism challenge. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, and it needs to be worked in coordination with states in the region and others in the international community.
I will tell you, Senator, that I am skeptical, too, about the wisdom of a United Nations peacekeeping force in Somalia at this time. I certainly do support elements of the current resolution that is pending in the Council to strengthen the African Union and provide it with the support and resources that it needs to be larger and more effective, but the new administration will have to take a very careful and close look at this question of whether, in six months' time, to in fact, support the standing up of a UN force against this backdrop of our interests, its complexity, the very tragic history of the United Nations in Somalia. And I can assure you that we will give that very, very careful consideration.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Dr. Rice. You've been a -- have a long record of working on genocide and conflict prevention.
In 2001, while discussing the Clinton administration's position on the 1994 Rwanda genocide, you said that if you ever face such a crisis again, you would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required, you said. I find that to be an important and remarkable statement, so I'd like to ask specifically what lessons you have learned from Rwanda that you would consider applicable to your work if confirmed as the Obama administration's ambassador to the United Nations.
MS. RICE: Well, Senator, in December 1994, six months after the genocide in Rwanda ended, I traveled there with other officials of the US Government, the National Security Advisor at the time, and colleagues from various agencies, and I saw firsthand the horrors of that genocide. It was a time when there were, everywhere, still littered the hundreds of thousands of bodies of innocents in churchyards and schoolyards, and it's, frankly, an experience I will never forget. And I can stress that that, among other things, has made me passionate about the issue of preventing genocide and crimes against humanity.
Specific lessons I've learned are several. First and foremost, we need to ensure that we have adequate information and early warning so that we're better able to distinguish between a recurrent spasm of violence and something of a far greater magnitude that is or can become massive crimes or genocide. Secondly, we need to be more adept with the United Nations and others in the international community at preventing conflict in the first case and preventing conflict that exists from evolving into something much worse. And too often, our prevention has been belated, haphazard, unsustained, and has not recognized that we not only have a diplomatic challenge at hand in prevention, but a long-term economic challenge because there's a strong relationship between persistent and deep poverty and the outbreak of civil conflict.
I've also learned that when best efforts fail and it is necessary to act, that we have more than one means of doing so. We can -- it's not only a question of the US acting alone or not at all. There are multilateral opportunities, and the US cannot, in every instance, act in the face of crimes and atrocities. But we can never rule out such actions, and we need to be prepared to build the sort of international support and consensus that is necessary to challenge the international community so that we see no more Rwandas and no more Darfurs, and God forbid what may come in the future.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Doctor.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thanks very much, Senator Feingold.
SEN. DEMINT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I have some questions I'd like to submit for the record, and --
SEN. KERRY: Absolutely. They will be submitted.
SEN. DEMINT: Dr. Rice, I enjoyed our meeting at --
SEN. KERRY: Let me just say, with respect to that on the questions for the record, because of the timing here, we have to have them in by 12:00 noon tomorrow because Monday's a holiday, and Tuesday, we want to be prepared to go forward.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. DEMINT: Thank you. Sorry about that.
Thank you for the courtesy of your meeting. I enjoyed our conversation. Your opening statement, as well as that of chairman and ranking member, really drew a clear picture of what the United Nations needs to be, what it could be, as well as concerns about what it really is.
One of the things you said when we met that encouraged me the most is, while certainly we want to cooperate with the world, help people around the world, that your job is to do what's best for America and serve the interests of the American people, and I appreciate that perspective. I appreciate the concerns about us being behind in our payments, but I do believe those payments need to be tied to reforms that everyone has agreed to. We can't be obligated to comply with the UN when they're not complying with their own rules, resolutions, and their commitments to reform.
As I expressed to you, the perception of the United Nations, maybe, that I have and many of my constituents, is more that they're ineffective, they've been wasteful, there's corruption, and there's deep concern that there's a lot of anti-American sentiment within the United Nations, which I think undermines the trust and confidence that many Americans have with the United Nations and our role there. And I appreciated what Senator Lugar said, that not only do we hope that you can help to shape the United Nations in a way that'll work for the world, but also be an advocate to Congress and the American people about those things that are working and that we are changing and the improvements that are being made because, see, if the American people don't trust the United Nations, then it's going to be increasingly difficult for Congress to make the commitments it needs to be supportive there.
As you know, many nations that belong to the United Nations do not share our values. They're not democratic, and human rights are not respected in their own countries. There's not religious freedom, freedom of speech, of the press. Yet many times, these countries are pooling their votes to direct the actions and the resources of the United States. This is a concern to me, and that's why your statement that, in the end, we need to do what's best for our country is very important.
There are many, many needs around the world, as you've talked about, very difficult challenges, but the United States is no longer the rich nation that we think of ourselves as being. In fact, we are a debtor nation. And if you count what every American family owes as part of our national debt, we owe more than we own. And our role in paying a disproportionate share of United Nations activities is something that we need to consider. We are limited. We cannot continue to borrow money to do activities all around the world. I'd like for you maybe to address that because in some sense, we find that the United Nations now is a paper tiger.
They might express an opinion or pass a resolution, yet with no enforcement mechanism other than the United States, we're often left holding the bag and often find ourselves acting without United Nations support even when enforcing their own resolutions. It's a quandary to be in.
If you could just talk about our role, our commitment of funds and resources and maybe in the context of a bigger concern that I hear people express; there's a tendency of governments to continue to centralize authority. We see that here in Washington for our domestic issues -- increasing spending, increasing taxes -- and there seems to be, at least in some quarters in the United Nations, a move towards more centralization and a type of global governments and even legislating.
These things are of tremendous concern to the Americans that call our office and write and email us; that we would somehow in some way undermine our own national sovereignty and allow the United Nations to in effect, direct our own government in some area, whether it be how we deal with climate change or other issues. That's of concern and I know a lot of people listening today would like to hear you speak of and I know we talked about that a little bit.
So, if I could just ask you maybe to just speak in generalities about how you see that role of the United Nations and how that fits into the sovereignty of the United States.
MS. RICE: Well Senator, I appreciate that question because it does reflect the anxieties and concerns of some Americans and it is important, as you acknowledged and Senator Lugar acknowledged, to communicate the strengths and the weaknesses, but the rational for United States engagement and commitment to the United Nations.
As I said to you when we met the other day, I will always -- on behalf of President-Elect Obama and in cooperation with Secretary Designate Clinton -- stand up for and serve United States national interest at the United Nations. As we discussed the other day, no U.S. administration will ever, and could ever, cede sovereignty to an international body or indeed to any other institution. We must do what we must, acting in our interest.
But our interests are to a great extent served by the United Nations when it is operating effectively.
As we discussed the other day, and as I eluded to in my testimony, we often face very unpleasant choices between three kinds of options; doing nothing in the face of violence or atrocities or conflict, letting things fester, which frankly has been our approach since the mid-90s in Somalia to a large extent and we have seen with piracy and terrorism and all the manifestations of state collapsed that what happens even in a very distant part of the world is not of no relevance to our own national security.
We have another option, which is to act unilaterally as we have done in some instances at great cost in lives and treasure to the American people. Sometimes that may be necessary, but there is a third choice, which is also imperfect, and that is joining together with allies and partners in other nations and sharing the burden of collective action and dealing with these collective challenges.
That is what the United Nations offers us; an imperfect but indispensible vehicle to share those burdens. Yes, we do pay a great deal to the United Nations; we are the largest contributor at 22 percent of the regular budget and 27 percent of the peace keeping budget. But, know -- and the American people need to know -- that it costs the United Nations $.12 for every dollar that we would spend if we acted unilaterally in a peace keeping context.
While $.12 can add up if you spend enough dollars, in fact, that is a pretty good deal. Given that the cost of inaction or unilateral action are so high, it is in our national security interest, Senator I would submit, for us to strengthen and work to make more effective this tool to share burdens and share costs of collective global challenges.
SEN. DEMINT: Excellent.
Well, I'll do something very unusual and yield back my time before it is over. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much. That is unusual and welcome.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Rice, congratulations on your nomination and I look forward to supporting you in this nomination. I want to applaud your stand that you have taken concerning genocide of the Darfur region of the Sudan and I want you to know that as one Senator, we're looking forward to working with you to try to change the course of events there. It is one of the top priorities that I have, it is what -- outside of Iraq and Afghanistan -- I hear most from my constituency about. I feel very passionately about this and I think we should.
If we're to have any meaning to never again being something of import, then we must do more than just simply stand by the sidelines and look as things unfold in a way in which we have the ability to make a difference. In this case, that ability is not by direct intervention of the United States, but by assisting the hybrid African Union and the U.N. forces that will do the critical work to make sure that more people aren't slaughtered at the end of the day.
I know that in a paper you wrote for the Brookings Institution you said that the U.S. response quote, "coupled generous humanitarian assistance with unfulfilled threats and feckless diplomacy." I am wondering with that in mind, how do we go beyond the words, how do we get the U.N. to move forward in a more significant way, what are the major obstacles to transforming the U.N. resolutions into effective protection for innocent civilians in Darfur?
You know this area well and you have a passion for it, but now you will have more than passion, you will have power. The question is how are you going to use that power to make a difference?
MS. RICE: Thank you very much, Senator Menendez. You have been outspoken in championing, as so many on this committee have and Congress more broadly, far more effective and robust action on Darfur and I applaud your leadership on this.
Senator, as you pointed out, we are at a point in time where the proximate challenge is in fact even somewhat different then when I wrote that piece and I last testified before this committee on Darfur. We do now have authorized this United Nations-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force known as UNIMID. It is supposed to get up to a strength of 26,000 troops.
More than a year after it was authorized, it is barely at half strength and is still lacking the equipment and the helicopters and the mobility it needs to be maximally effective. That is the most proximate way that we can increase protection for vulnerable civilians. So in my mind, Senator, the most urgent task is to get that force swiftly up to full strength and to ensure, with other member nations of the United Nations, that it has the equipment and the mobility and the night capability that it needs to be able to effectively protect civilians.
Now, just barely within the last couple of weeks the administration, after much internal deliberation and back and forth of the United Nations, moved to try to lift in equipment and support for an incoming African battalion. That's important, but it is not sufficient.
There is more we can and should do to press the United Nations to move as swiftly as it can to support their efforts as best we can and clear out what has frankly been bureaucratic blockage in both New York and Washington on this subject. We can do more to actively recruit and train and prepare and equip troops that have expressed a willingness to come into Darfur and serve in UNIMID.
We need to be absolutely clear with the government of Sudan that the United Nations and the international community will not stand for its continued obstruction and delaying and prevaricating about the deployment of the U.N., make its facilities available, allow equipment to move and basically get out of the way of effective deployment. If it requires for the pressure and sanctions or pressure of other means to make that happen, that is what we must contemplate.
Most importantly, we need to put adequate collective pressure on the government of Sudan to stop killing civilians. It is continuing; aerial bombardments, supporting Janjaweed raids of internally displaced camps. This genocide continues.
It is time to look at the kinds of robust action that you and others, the President-Elect have long suggested with respect to economic pressure, contemplation of other mechanisms like preventing continued aerial bombardments flights that are designed to attack civilians. We will look at the full range of steps that we can take to strengthen UNIMID, ensure that the government is not in a position to block its effective operation and to press for a negotiated resolution of the underlying conflict, which is at the base of this fighting and these atrocities.
There will be, I am quite certain, an early close look at this whole set of issues inside the new administration and we will give due consideration to the full range of steps that we can take because President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, Secretary Designate Clinton and many others, including myself, in this administration feel passionately that we can and we must do more to end the genocide in Darfur.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you for your answer. I really look for a proactive effort and I have the expectation that we will see that with the President-elect upon taking office.
Let me ask you about Iran. It poses a major challenge for the United States and its allies, it is a leading state sponsor of terror, it openly threatens the existence of U.N. member states and it is working to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. Even though the Security Council has passed a series of resolutions, imposing sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend its enrichment activity, these resolutions have not dissuaded the Iranians and efforts to move it along have been delayed or watered down by Russia and China.
Given the current circumstances, what course of action should the U.S. take (of?) the Security Council regarding the Iranian nuclear threat? What approach would you take to Russia and China to gain better cooperation from them in this process?
MS. RICE: Senator, this is an urgent and pressing challenge. As the President-Elect has said on numerous occasions, it is unacceptable that Iran acquire a nuclear weapon.
International efforts to date have not prevented its progress in that regard. Thus, we face a very serious threat to our own national security, to the security of Israel and in deed, to the security of the broader region. The President-Elect has been clear that we need to forge a different approach. One that combines tough, direct and effective diplomacy with incentives and increased pressure for the regime in Iran to give up its nuclear weapons activities, its nuclear weapons program and indeed, to halt its efforts to destabilize neighboring states and its support of terrorism.
What we do in the United Nations Security Council will be designed to compliment that strategy. It's a strategy that we will finalize and begin to implement in the early stages of the administration and it would be premature for me to speculate on what exactly the elements of additional sanctions and pressures might be, or indeed the elements of an incentives package. But the principles are clear.
We must work urgently to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and indeed, we must inject into those efforts tough, direct and sustained diplomacy backed by pressure as needed.
Now, with respect to Russia and China -- this is a crucial part of the challenge and the irony is that both Russia and China have stated that they do not want to see Iran become a nuclear power, a nuclear weapons state and have taken some initial steps somewhat grudgingly. But the fact is we need to work to highlight our areas of common interest with respect to Russia and China on the Iranian challenge, as well as others, rather than allow ourselves to be bogged down in those differences.
It's not going to be easy. They have their interests and we have ours but the President-Elect's view and mine is that we need to work to test the proposition of whether we can't bring them in their interests along with us in designing a more effective approach to the Iranians that has both pressures and diplomacy brought together in service of our shared objectives.
SEN. MENENDEZ: My time has expired. I just want to note two other things -- we've talked about it so I won't belabor it here.
Certainly, the question of human rights and how that council works and what role we take in it, I'd like to continue to work with you on that after you are confirmed. Also, the U.N. process on the reunification of Cypress is something that is very important to me as well.
I look forward to working with you and thank you, Mr. Chairman, for --
SEN. KERRY: Thanks a lot, Senator Menendez, appreciate it, thank you.
SEN. ISAKSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Dr. Rice, welcome.
I was just sitting here thinking, you'll be the second woman with the last name of Rice to represent the United States on the world stage. Condoleezza Rice with whom I have been tremendously impressed with her capacity and ability and knowledge, but having sat with you for about an hour the other day and talked, I'm equally impressed with the depth and breadth of your knowledge and I know you'll represent the United States well and I know your parents, who are over there beaming. I met them earlier today and your father hasn't stopped grinning since he got in the room so I know he's very proud of you.
Two things -- one thing Georgians are concerned about when you bring up the subject of the U.N., the first that comes up is what appears to be the disproportion in investment of U.S. money in the U.N. versus many other countries that are participating members and you and I talked about it. you brought up one aspect of the benefit that comes back from that investment in the form of the peacekeeping missions that the U.N. has around the world making the point, I think, that if it weren't for that investment and the U.N. doing it, we'd probably have most of the burden on our back as the leader of the free world.
Would you expand on that for a second?
MS. RICE: Yes, thank you, Senator, and thank you for our meting. I enjoyed it and want to say for the record that I had the great privilege to leave with a nice big bag of Georgia peanuts, which were widely shared back at transition headquarters.
We face a world in which there are so many complex and dangerous challenges and threats. Terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, conflict, climate change, disease; all of which have the potential to do great damage to our nation and our people. We have to make choices even with our comparatively wealthy resources as to what we can do.
We can't do everything by ourselves. Even if we had the resources to do it, we don't have the ability to do it because by definition, these are challenges that often transcend national borders and that require maximum effective cooperation by as many states as possible.
The cost to the U.S. of inaction by us or others can often be enormous. Where there is the potential for a deadly pathogen to create a pandemic and there's no capacity to stop it, that's our problem; its one we can't solve alone. Where there are terrorist havens in various countries around the world, we need the cooperation of others to help root them out and secure their borders. When there is deadly conflict of the sort that not only steals innocent lives but can spill over and destabilize full regions, if there is no action that ultimately becomes our problem as well.
So, we pay a cost from inaction, we pay a cost if we have to act alone and so the challenge is to seek alternatives to doing nothing and doing it by ourselves. That is the essential benefit of institutions like the United Nations which are global in scope and in which the burdens and costs are shared.
(They?) said to Senator Dement, yes indeed we do contribute the largest share -- 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget, 27 percent of the peacekeeping budget -- and yet most days that's a deal because compared to what it would cost us if we acted alone, the U.N. can do the same job in peacekeeping for about $.12 on the dollar. Given that binary choice between inaction and doing it ourselves, that often is an imperfect but preferred outcome to the alternative.
Our challenge now and my commitment, if I am confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is to work with other member states to increase the effectiveness and efficiency, the management and accountability of the United Nations, but also to increase its effectiveness in performing those tasks that we ask of it. It's not enough for every dollar to be spent cleanly and without corruption. It has to be spent well so that it serves the purpose for which it is intended.
So, I'm particularly interested, as I mentioned in my opening statement, in playing a leadership role in partnership with other member states to help the U.N. as it takes on this extraordinary set of challenges with more than 90,000 peacekeepers in the field to build its own capacity to do those missions more effectively, more swiftly and to improve our own capacity and that of other countries to support the United Nations when it undertakes those efforts.
SEN. ISAKSON: I think you make a good case and a good point. I do hope you will do -- I think I heard at the end of Senator DeMint's question you affirmed a willingness to leverage what we contributed to the U.N. to be a leader of reform in the U.N. because there are some areas of U.N. reform that are important in its operation and in its structure.
Secondly, I really respect the amount of knowledge you have on Africa and the engagement that you have had there and I share the concern I've heard expressed by other members with regard to Darfur, what has happened there and would stand ready as a ranking member of the Africa Sub-Committee to work with you in any way possible. What's going on in Darfur is unacceptable and we need to get UNIMID fully operational and working or were going to have a disaster of immense proportion on our hands.
Former U.N. Ambassador Andy Young is a close personal friend of mine and a neighbor in Atlanta so we talk all the time. He has opened an operation called Good Works, which is an outreach into that continent and I think that continent will be in the 21st century in terms of U.S. engagement what the continent of Asia was in the 20th century.
I think it's very important that we focus on that and focus clearly on it.
Lastly, we are sort of the only, or at least the last, spokesmen for the state of Israel in the U.N. often times when resolutions come forward to the Security Council and some of the conflicts that we are in, and I really appreciate what past administrations have done to use either the right to abstain or the right to veto resolutions when they are disproportionately weighted to the disinterest of the state of Israel and the Israeli people.
As much as I worry about what is happening in Gaza now, and what's happening with missiles coming both out of Lebanon from Hezbollah and out of Gaza from Hamas, hopefully this will be the opportunity that the U.N. can be strong in forging a meaningful ceasefire with consequential commitments in advance on behalf of Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran so we stop the flow of weaponry and all the things that go through the Philadelphia Corridor out of Egypt into Gaza and into Lebanon, that are fueling the tragedies that are taking place on the Israeli people.
I hope that you will, as past administrations have, remain committed to ensuring that the Palestinian state we are willing to recognize right after the state of Israel is recognized and we have a lasting commitment and an enforceable commitment to see to it the violence ends against those people.
I know that was more of a speech than a question but, --
MS. RICE: An eloquent speech --
SEN. ISAKSON: No, I know better than that --
MS. RICE: No Senator, thank you.
First of all, I want to commend you for your leadership on Africa. I very much enjoyed our conversation the other day about Africa, we share a deep belief in its potential and its importance to the United States and I do very much look forward to working with you on those issues.
And, yes, with respect to the United States' support for Israel, as the President-Elect has said on many occasions, Israel is a -- (inaudible)-- ally and friend of the United States and we will, as we have in the past, act in our interest in recognition of and support of that relationship. At the same time, I certainly share your deep concern about the ongoing situation in Gaza. It's something the President-Elect and Secretary Designate Clinton have also spoken about.
There needs to be a durable ceasefire. But a durable ceasefire has to entail the halt to Hamas rocket attacks against Israel and the Israeli people, it has to entail effective efforts to halt the smuggling of weapons and supplies and very effective border control mechanisms. When that durable ceasefire is achieved, which we all hope will be very soon, we in the international community need to mount a very swift and robust effort to attend to the dire humanitarian needs inside of Gaza and the President-Elect has spoken to that as well.
And of course, to look longer term at ways to support reconstruction and longer term development and support of the legitimate Palestinian authorities.
The President-Elect has also said that he is deeply committed and will act from the earliest days of his administration to support the diplomacy that is necessary to help to try to bring about a two state solution with the Jewish state of Israel living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable Palestinian state. That very much remains our objective.
SEN. ISAKSON: Well, I appreciate very much your commitment on that and I wish you the very best and pledge me support and help if I can ever be of help to you.
MS. RICE: Thank you very much.
SEN. KENNEDY: Thank you, Senator Isakson. We appreciate that.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you. let me apologize for my absence. I wanted to hear Senator Biden give his farewell address to the Senate, our former Chairman, and it was quite beautiful but I missed being here. So, I hope I'm not treading on ground that's been covered but I will be brief Mr. Chairman. I am strongly supporting your nomination. You're ready for this.
There's a lot of debate about the U.N.; it falls short in so many ways but clearly, we need to make it stronger, make it better, make it more relevant, make it a place that's fair. It is better for us to debate our differences with other nations than to tackle problems alone. We look at what happened, we really abandoned the United Nations route when we went into Iraq.
We were on that course with the inspectors and I have longed believe that was the turning point when we decided to go it alone; disastrous decision and one I proudly voted against because I felt the opportunity was there to work with the world. So, that's the path and now here we sit.
There are so many issues we went over then with Senator Clinton, our future Secretary of State we all hope, so I'm not going to repeat them all because the list is long and depressing. I do want to pick up on the Middle East question. I think we're all heartbroken and frightened and disturbed about what has happened and what the situation is on the ground.
Personally, I don't think any nation, I don't care large or small, weak, strong, poor, rich, could live with rockets coming across. That's just not possible. So until that decision is made to stop the rockets, to stop it, this is going to go on and that is very unfortunate. So, naturally, my plea today from here, which probably will fall on nobody's ears, but I pray that we can have not just the 24 hour ceasefire or two day or four day; although every hour of quiet is good, we want a seriously long ceasefire that leads us somewhere, not leads us around the corner to more rocket attacks and more responses. I am sure you share that view.
I guess what I want to ask you is how do you convince people at the U.N. to open their eyes at these rocket attacks at Hamas. They write a resolution. They don't even mention the fact that all of this trouble, I believe, started with the rockets, or certainly continues because of the rockets. How do you reach out to people? You have so much going for you. What tools will you use to say to the U.N., you're not fair if you're not looking at the whole picture?
MS. RICE: Thank you, Senator Boxer, and thank you for the passion with which you speak on this issue. I was privilege to travel to Sderot last summer with President-elect Obama, with Foreign Minister Livni and Defense Minister Barak. We flew from Jerusalem out over, as you know, the very narrow territory that is between Jerusalem and the coast and down in close proximity to Gaza. I stood in the house of a family that had lost everything due to a Hamas rocket attack, and I saw the empty Qassam shells in the police station there in Sderot, scores and scores and scores of shells that have fallen on the heads of innocents.
And it was there that the President-elect said very plainly that ever and any American and any human being would not be able to sleep with rockets raining down on their children's heads. So we all understand that threat and that risk to civilians every day, and we're all clear that the end to rocket attacks by Hamas and to Israel is an absolute necessity for any durable cease-fire. As I said earlier, we also are gravely concerned about the suffering now of innocents in Gaza.
SEN. BOXER: Of course.
MS. RICE: And so that only re-doubles our desire to end the suffering in both Israel and of the Palestinians to see this durable cease fire and to ensure that any cease fire has the elements that will make is sustainable, preventing the rocket fire, preventing additional smuggling, ensuring real border control.
SEN. BOXER: Let me just say, my question to you was --
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT): Senator, could I just interrupt you for one sec?
SEN. BOXER: Yes.
SEN. DODD: It won't come out of your time at all.
SEN. BOXER: Yes.
SEN. DODD: Um, Dr. Rice, will you excuse me because I need to go to the floor to speak about Senator Biden for a minute.
MS. RICE: Yes.
SEN. DODD: I'm going to try and get back depending on the timeframe. Senator Luger is, just to show you the bipartisanship of this committee, he's going to preside in my absence. I think we only have two other questioners at this point. So we're really moving very expeditiously and positively. So if you will forgive me, and I am sorry because I wanted to say 'hello' to your parents personally before, and I hope to get back here to be able to do that, but thank you so much.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. DODD: Thank you very much.
MS. RICE: Senator Boxer, you were going to remind me that you --
SEN. BOXER: Yeah, I wanted to ask. Well, I'm not going to ask it again. I guess I'm going to make it in the form of some advice, unsolicited though it may be. I'm very interested in the U.N., and I was a representative from this committee and the Senate to the U.N., traveled to New York several times, and I think one of the things that Joe Biden was saying on the floor, and this was so interesting Senators, is that he personal relationships that he was able to garner in the United States Senate changed the course of many issues. And I'm looking to you as someone very dynamic. So rather than answer the question, I hope you will use that dynamic personality, your intelligence, your experience to get people to understand that in order to have a long-range solution, not only in this part of the world but any part of the world, we need to work together and bring people together and not approach in a way that isn't fair because if you approach it that way, it will never work. So I want you to do that.
Now I have a couple of quick questions. Two days ago, I had an amazing exchange with Senator Clinton, our future Secretary of State we all hope, about the plight of women in the world and their struggle against violence, and you know I held up some photos that I will not do. And I was very pleased with her commitment, and I think that you again, through personal relationships, I mean I'll never forget when I went in to see the Ambassador to the U.N. from Darfur. That was not pleasant, but the fact that I was able to look in his eyes and say, "You're just not seeing the truth." It is very powerful.
These countries that are closing their eyes to what is happening to women, I don't care if it's Cambodia, Afghanistan, you name it, it's all over the world. I hope, not just because of your gender but because of your passion for equality, that you will take this task on. Now we, this committee, this Senate, we haven't passed or ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. Let me say it because I just butchered it. CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against women.
I am so embarrassed, Senator Luger, that we have not done that. Now when we raised this with some of the people who are very ideological, they said, 'Well does that mean women will have a right to an abortion?' No, of course not, had nothing to do with it, but it was used as an excuse to stop us from passing this. Now, it's embarrassing for, I would think, for anyone doing diplomacy. Seeing some of the things that are done to women, how can you go up to these countries and say, "This is criminal activity; go after these people," when we haven't ratified CEDAW. And the irony is, some of them have ratified CEDAW, and they are completely ignoring CEDAW. So I hope that this committee will move, and I hope that this administration supports the ratification of CEDAW. So I'd like to ask you that question.
MS. RICE: Yes indeed, Senator. Thank you for your leadership on this issue and on behalf of women and children here and the world over. I share your passion and commitment to the broad set of issues, but in particular, I share your passion for the ratification of CEDAW. And it will be an important priority for this administration.
SEN. BOXER: It's past time, excellent. And --
MS. RICE: May I just also say --
SEN. BOXER: Yes.
MS. RICE: You spoke about the importance of personal relationships and engaging with those with whom we agree and disagree --
SEN. BOXER: Yes.
MS. RICE: In service of our shared values and interests. I will be very energetic in doing so.
SEN. BOXER: Good.
MS. RICE: And I take very much to heart your advice in that regard.
SEN. BOXER: Yes. I mean I see it here in the Senate all the time. And people are people. And they like to have attention paid, and they can be convinced. Last question, on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, again a treaty the United States has failed to ratify, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. And like the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, how can we be proud of our country when we haven't ratified? In this case, the only other country, as I understand it, that hasn't ratified is Somalia, okay. Excuse me. This is America. We're standing with Somalia. What is happening? What has happened?
And, you know, in my capacity as Chairman of the EPW I said, you know, the Environmental Protection Agency reminds me of the case of Sleeping Beauty. They have such a great set of laws. They have such a great mandate to protect the health of people, and they've been sleeping for eight years, and we need to wake them up, and I just feel that, in this case, children deserve basic human rights, the right to survive, to develop to the fullest, to protect from harmful influences, to protect from abuse and exploitation, to participate in family, cultural, and social life. And the Convention protects children's rights by setting some standards here so that the most vulnerable people of society will be protected.
Now, all you have to do is look around the world and see these girls that are having acid thrown in their face. They're children. Why are they being attacked for going to school where adults say 'go to school'? You know, why are children being recruited for wars and learning how to kill and shoot and be killed and, and be disfigured? It's beyond belief that we would stand with Somalia. So here's this hardball question. Do you agree with organizations such as the American Bar Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Save the Children, and Mercy Corp International that the United States should ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child?
MS. RICE: Senator, I certainly agree with you that this is a very important treaty and a noble cause, having been ratified by 193 countries, and it is a shame, there's no other word for it, when the only country with which we're keeping company is Somalia, which is not even capable of ratifying anything. So we will review this treaty and others to ensure that the United States is playing and resumes its global leadership role in human rights. I look forward to working to that end on this particularly important set of issues.
I think, as you know, this is a complicated treaty, in many respects more than some others, given our system of federalism, and so we need to take a close look at how we manage the challenges of domestic implementation and what reservations and understandings might be appropriate in the context of ratification.
But there can be no doubt that the President-elect and Secretary Clinton and I share a commitment to the objectives of this treaty and will take it up as an early question.
SEN. BOXER: Mr. Chairman, in just 20 seconds of conclusion, thank you. Can I have your commitment that within, let's just say 60 days, you could let us know either through the Chairman, the Ranking Member, all of us, what reservations might be appropriate because I don't object to that. Clearly, you know, a document has to go along with everything we believe in this country. I'm not asking us to give up any rights in order to protect children. But if you could get back to us, you said CEDAW is something there wasn't any qualification on. So I'm going to take you at that word and talk to the Chairman about moving that. But on the Rights of the Child, if you would get back to us within 60 days with whatever reservations you might have.
MS. RICE: Senator, I'd like to be able to give you that ironclad commitment, but I can't because I don't have a sense of how long it will take us, in light of the many different things on our plate, to do that legal review, which will inevitably be an interagency review and will come under the purview of the Secretary of State. I really need to confer with her on that.
SEN. BOXER: Is there a time frame on that you could put forward?
MS. RICE: I honestly must defer to the Secretary of State --
SEN. BOXER: Okay, fine.
MS. RICE: Designate on that.
SEN. BOXER: We will take it up with the new Secretary of State. But thank you very much; I strongly support you.
MS. RICE: Thank you; I appreciate your support.
SEN. LUGER: The chair did not want to interferer with this important dialogue, but we are probably 12 minutes from a roll call vote, and we have three senators, so I'm going to recognize Senator Barrasso, and I know each of you will be respectful of the time. You've been waiting for a long time, and we may be delayed with the vote, but I make that point that we still have the 10-minute rule, and Senator Barrasso, you're recognized.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you and congratulations, Dr. Rice. Wonderful introductions by Senator Biden and Senator Collins, it must be just wonderful to have your parents here and the family, and Jake and Maris have been very patient. Jake is still here; Maris will --
MS. RICE: Maris, I think, decided to go back to school.
SEN. BARRASSO: Well, Jake has been very patient. Great compliments about your critical thinking, always learning, your strong intellect, collegiality and you know, Senator Boxer talked about the importance of working with others, the personal relationship that you have, and you're going to do very well at all of those. There are a couple of issues that I'd like to address briefly because they are also principles that come into play beyond the collegiality and the working with others. And for the people of my home state in Wyoming, they, you know, have the sense always of concern with the United Nations and with troops in harm's way. Do you support ever placing U.S. troops under U.N. control?
MS. RICE: Senator, as you probably know, this is something of a technical issue. In the past, U.S. Presidents have decided in certain circumstances when it serves our interest not to cede command authority ever to the United Nations but has place U.S. forces under the operational control of international and sometimes U.N. commanders. Most of the time we've done that, it's been in small quantities, military observers, small units, and while this is not a subject that we have had the opportunity to consider in any depth or with any specific contingency in mind, I imagine that President-elect Obama will follow the same policy as his predecessors and reserve that right to place U.S. forces or U.S. personnel, more likely, under the temporary operational control of a United Nations commander if and when he determines that serves our interests.
SEN. BARRASSO: There was a United Nations arms trade treaty this past year, pas 145 to 2, and were part of the two that voted against it. In the buildup to that and the discussions and a lengthy paper, the paper said, "If such a treaty comes about, we need to make sure that there are Constitutional protections to people from their own country in terms of their right to bear arms." When the treaty then was brought forward and voted on 145 to 2 with us opposing, they left all of those important parts of protecting our own rights to bear arms and our Second Amendments out of the treaty. So my question would be would you support our position there in the vote even though 145 people voted one way and only two of us voted the other way to protect our rights as American citizens to own and bear arms consistent with the Second Amendment?
MS. RICE: Senator, the right to bear arms, as you know very well, is embedded in our Constitution. And the actions and decisions of an international body will never, and do never, override our own Constitution and national law. So while it's unfortunate that we persist in this kind of debate and discussion at the U.N. where we are voting as we are, in a small minority, on an issue, which is I think, primarily intended to deal with the challenge of illicit weapons traffic that is a problem in many conflict zones around the country. We will not find ourselves in a situation where we are allowing international prerogatives to ever override our Constitution.
SEN. BARRASSO: And keeping along the same lines with our own sovereignty, in the past there's been talk of the United Nations wanting to implement global taxes to raise revenue to use for a number of different things. The authority to tax, again, is not an international thing. It is something the sovereignty of our nation. Will you in the Obama administration oppose any attempt by the United Nations to tax U.S. citizens?
MS. RICE: Sir, I'm going to take that question and get back to you on it as we submit our other questions, but the fact is, my understanding is, I don't think the United Nations can tax American citizens without the consent of Congress that has the Constitutional authority to tax. So you would have to go along with that in this body.
SEN. BARRASSO: Mr. Chairman, I know in light of the upcoming vote let me just relinquish back the rest of my time to the other members of the panel. Thank you.
SEN. LUGER: Thank you.
SEN. BARRASSO: Thank you very much, and congratulations Dr. Rice.
MS. RICE: Thank you.
SEN. LUGER: I thank the Senator for his questions and likewise for his thoughtfulness with regard to colleagues. Senator Nelson.
SEN. BENJAMIN CARDIN (D-MD): Dr. Rice, we've talked about Haiti. What do you think the U.N. can do to help Haiti on some of these natural disasters and develop economically and continue to struggle toward a democracy? And I say this with the backdrop that earlier this year there was a call out for 100 million to assist Haiti in the in the international community after it got hit by two hurricanes, and the international community has only responded with half that amount.
MS. RICE: Well Senator, I share you deep concern about the grave humanitarian situation in Haiti made worse only in recent months by natural disasters, which have pounded the island repeatedly. The United States has a very significant interest in helping Haiti to become a more stable democracy that can provide more effectively for its people, and ensure that Haiti is a place in the future where people seek to choose to stay and build their nation rather than leave, often in dangerous circumstances.
After many fits and starts, the United Nations has built up a substantial peacekeeping presence in Haiti in the form of Minustah, which I know you've seen firsthand. And it is doing an important task, not only in helping to bolster peace and security, assist in counter narcotics efforts, but also to support improved governance in Haiti, but it's frankly a challenge that will persist. And our effort and attention in the United States and that of others who have played a leadership role in Minustah, and indeed more broadly in the international community, will need to be intensified and sustained because, as you well know, the challenges in Haiti are not new, and they're not going to be easily met. It's going to require a significant and sustained effort on the part of us and others.
SEN. CARDIN: And President Preval is really trying. I want to give plenty of time for my colleagues here, the Senator from Maryland. Let me just ask you what do you think, in your position in the U.N., you can do to pressure Russia and China to stop the arms shipments to Sudan?
MS. RICE: Well Senator, thank you. We need more effective sanctions, and we need more effective enforcement. And where we have robust and effective sanctions regimes, we at least have the ability, through sanctions monitoring committees, to investigate and document evidence of violations. In the case of Sudan, that mechanism is not well developed, and indeed, we're not in a position as we should be to place under the spotlight those in various countries who are fueling this conflict and supporting those committing genocide. And I think that's an important element of what we must look at in the context as we review, as I spoke earlier, about review our policy towards Darfur and seek a range of more effective mechanisms, diplomatic, economic, and security to act with real efficacy to address the genocide in Darfur.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LUGER: Thank you and --
SEN. CARDIN: Let me just say, Senator, because I think this is going to be your last appearance at the Foreign Relations Committee how much we've appreciated. He's going over to the Finance Committee, and we're going to lose his services to this committee, but as a member of the Finance Committee, I understand that tension on any committees, and I understand it's difficult, but we want to thank you for your service to this committee. You've been a terrific member of the committee. You've contributed a lot of thinking on a lot of different topics, and I know you've been very passionate about many of them. So I am confident that, just as a Senator, you're going to continue to be part of this committee and follow its work and be a contributor to it, and we thank you very much.
SEN. LUGER: I want to join you, Mr. Chairman, in thanking Senator Nelson.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you Senator.
SEN. LUGER: Real contributor.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you.
SEN. LUGER: Senator Cardin, you've been very patient.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you, sir.
SEN. LUGER: And I also want to thank you --
SEN. LUGER: Can I also just give you all a heads-up that there is a vote, and it's going to start at 12:10, but we ought to be able to get everybody.
I also want to thank Senator Nelson because he's leaving I'm going to move up one more in seniority. (Laughter.) So we just want to point that out.
SEN. LUGER: I want you to know that Senator --
SEN. NELSON: I get to ask questions earlier next time some of you.
SEN. LUGER: I just want to warn you it was not so long ago that at these particular meetings at the heart, I sat on that corner, and it's really dangerous.
SEN. NELSON: I can see. Dr. Rice, thank you for being willing to serve our country in this very important position, and I thank your family for the sacrifices that they make for your public service. I just want to follow-up on some of the comments that have been made. I fully support and appreciate the importance of cooperating and working with the international community, and the United Nations should be a very important part of our foreign policy, and I strongly support your mission. I want to just follow up on a point that Senator Boxer made and Senator Menendez was going to get to but didn't have the time, and that is the effectiveness of the United Nations as it relates to the human rights agenda.
In my office, you and I talked about the fact that I've spent a lot of time in the House, now in the Senate, on the Helsinki Commission, which deals with a lot of issues, but human rights is one of our principle objectives. There's a lot of common areas of concern between the United Nations and Helsinki as it relates to trafficking of women and girls and as it relates to refugee issues. But I want to talk about the Human Rights Council. Senator Boxer mentioned the vote just three days ago in the Human Rights Council. That was anything but helpful in dealing with the human rights issues in the Middle East. We've seen over and over again, the Durban Conference how that got sidetracked on attacking Israel rather than dealing with human rights.
So I want to hear from you as to what the United States' position is going to be within the United Nations. I want the Human Rights Council to succeed. I want the United Nations to be effective in dealing with human rights, but if it becomes a tool to beat up on one of our allies or if it becomes an objective to undermine U.S. policy, I think we have to be prepared to take necessary steps in regards to the United States participation in the United Nations.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Senator. I share your passion for human rights and your dismay and anger at the failure of some of the U.N.'s human rights instruments to live up to their expectations and requirements. And the example you just raised of the resolution that passed in the Human Rights Council just a few days ago on Gaza is a classic example of the utterly imbalanced and reprehensible kinds of resolutions that have, too often, emerged from the Human Rights Council. There was no mention in that resolution of Hamas attacks on Israel. It was entirely one-sided, and it was interesting to note the breakdown of the vote on that resolution. There was one country that voted against it, Canada. There were almost 20 or so countries, many of whom are our close allies in Europe and Asia, who abstained, which I find curious at best and while I want to be clear that there has been no decision taken inside the incoming administration yet as to whether, or when, to seek membership of the Human Rights Council.
President-elect Obama and Secretary-designate Clinton and I and others share a deep commitment to seeing the United Nations have human rights instruments that are effective and live up to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other seminal documents. And this particular resolution and the breakdown of the vote, to me, just begs the question of what might have been different with U.S. participation and leadership. It seems to me hard to imagine that we would not have sought to work with, and indeed prevail upon, many of our allies to stand with Canada and with us in opposition to such a resolution. But that's an issue that we will take up in the early days of the administration, and we will give consideration as to how best the United States can play a leadership role so that the instruments for international human rights are strengthened and that we see fewer of the sorts of frustrating outcomes as we witnessed over the last few days.
SEN. NELSON: I thank you for that answer, and it's comforting to hear those comments. I want to mention one other area. Many of my colleagues have talked about the Sudan and the problems in the Sudan. I want to just add one additional part to that. I strongly support the statements that you've made in regards to ending that genocide, but there's also war crimes that have been committed, and the United States has been one of the leaders in making sure that those who commit war crimes are held accountable.
We have not yet finished the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. We still have Mladic as an indicted war criminal. He has yet to be apprehended. I would hope that you will be a strong voice within the United Nations for completing the work of the current tribunal and looking at whether it is appropriate to hold those who've committed genocidal acts in the Sudan responsible for their actions criminally.
MS. RICE: Thank you, Senator. I certainly fully share your desire to see these existing tribunals and international mechanisms that are dealing with atrocities complete their work and do so credibly. Sudan, obviously, is a place where the atrocities and crimes against humanity are manifest every day. And President-elect Obama and Vice-President-elect Biden have been very clear about the absolute importance of there being accountability and justice for those crimes.
SEN. NELSON: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I would yield back the renounce of my time.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator. I appreciate it. Senator Casey?
SEN. CASEY: Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I thank you for the way you've conducted this hearing. It's been a busy morning for us and we appreciate the way this has transpired. I know I'm the only thing standing between most people and a break or lunch right now, so I want to be cognizant of that.
Dr. Rice, I wanted, first of all, to commend you and to salute you for what you've already done up to this point in your life. It's been already a life of service, a life of scholarship and achievement, and I think it's a good forecast for the kind of administration that we're about to see and we're grateful for that service. I was looking at your stellar, sterling--there are probably other adjectives-- academic record and I have great respect for that. We have, I think, the opportunity now to change the course of American history on a lot of fronts and I'm just grateful that President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden have the kind of talent that people like you bring to that team, so we're grateful for your service.
I wanted to explore a couple of areas. One which I know you addressed, I guess, beginning on page five of your statement and I wasn't here for your statement, so this may be an area you've covered, but I wanted to reiterate some points of it. Which is the gravest threat, arguably, that we face and that is the threat of nuclear terrorism. I and others and many before me, including the Ranking Member, Senator Lugar, have worked on this issue for many, many years and we've made progress, but there's much more to do. I'm noting that in 2004 with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, we've made progress, but the concern now with that is the follow up. I and other, and I think you understand this better than I do, have seen little in the way of enforcement and steps to ensure that member states are in compliance with that resolution.
The recent report by the Commission on prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism only highlights the urgency of this problem, so I wanted to have you just address that in terms of, not just from the perspective of the Administration, but also, in your role at the United Nations because I think you're going to be there certainly with the support of this committee and the Senate, but just how you see that as a priority and what kind of progress you think we can make.
MS. RICE: Well, thank you, Senator, and thank you for your leadership on this issue and, of course, Senator Lugar, who has led with great distinction on this for many years. President-Elect Obama, as you know, has, from his earliest days in the Senate, taken a great interest in the challenges of non-proliferation and arms control. As I mentioned in my opening statement, this is a priority area that I will work on to support the larger objectives of the Administration with respect to non-proliferation. Resolution 1540 is an important milestone in international law in terms of setting a bar for member states with respect to their own responsibility to act effectively within their territory to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical, or biological.
The practical challenge, though, as you know, is that many of these United Nations member states lack the capacity and the wherewithal to be able to implement this sort of resolution effectively. These are fragile states that lack perhaps adequate law enforcement capacity, lack adequate resources, in some instances are struggling with poor and corrupt governance, and even with good governance and good intentions, without the resources and the capacity to take on this and other critical challenges as statehood, we, in the international community, will face a continuing problem.
And so, part of the challenge and, indeed, part of our responsibility, along with other UN member states, is to seek and build mechanisms that can help to build the capacity of these more vulnerable states to be able to take on these responsibilities, not only in name, but in fact. And I'm very interested in exploring, if confirmed, what we and other states can do to set up support and mechanisms that can be meaningful in building that capacity, not only to deal with the challenges of non-proliferation, but frankly, many of these things--border security, adequate law enforcement--are things that are essential to building the broader capacity of these more fragile states to be affective partners in a whole range of transnational security challenges including terrorism, controlling disease, and many of the other things that matter to all of us in the 21st century.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you very much and we'll pose some more questions in written form, but I do want to get to at least one more issue, maybe two. This is something we've talked about briefly when you came by our office to talk about your confirmation hearing.
As you know, in December, the UN General Assembly voted on a non- binding resolution to condemn discrimination and persecution based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution aimed to encourage UN member states to outlaw violence, hate crimes, and discrimination by ending the use of the death penalty or extra judicial executions in arbitrary arrest of individuals on those grounds. The resolution sought to encourage UN member states to outlaw violence, hate crimes, and discrimination. As you know, the resolution failed and the United States voted no at that time.
I just wanted to get your perspective on that resolution and, were it to come before the United Nations again, how would you approach it as the permanent representative to the UN?
MS. RICE: Thank you, Senator. I think it's important to highlight the process behind this declaration in the General Assembly. Not actually a formal resolution, but one that sought to give voice to something that is very fundamental to President-Elect Obama's world view and, indeed, to all of us in his incoming Administration. And that is the absolute necessity to prevent discrimination in any and all forms against any person or people on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other basis. President-Elect has spoken frequently and eloquently about his profoundly held view that we are all human beings of equal worth and equal value and the corollary that is, therefore, discrimination in any form is absolutely unacceptable.
While I can't comment on what resolutions might come before the General Assembly in the future, I am confident that we will bring that principle to bear in our contemplation and deliberation of any such declaration that comes before the General Assembly.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you. I'm going to wrap up, even though I have some more time. We have a vote and Senator Shaheen, former governor of the state, is waiting to ask her a question and I always defer to governors.
But let me say this in conclusion. Dr. Rice, there is a statement attributed to Martin Luther King on service where he said, "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve," and I think, in your own life, up to this point and, certainly, I know it will be true in the future as well, that is the measure of a kind of greatness and you've achieved a good bit of that already and we're grateful for your service. Thank you.
MS. RICE: That is very kind. Thank you, Senator.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Casey. Senator Shaheen, we're anticipating the vote, but the floor is yours.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Senator Casey. If only everyone held the sentiments and deferred to governors, we would be very lucky.
I want to add my congratulations, Dr. Rice, to everyone's this morning on your nomination and, also, my sentiments that have been expressed by so many this morning about how important I think it is that President-Elect Obama is planning to elevate the post of Ambassador to the UN to a cabinet level post. Within his Administration, I think that's an indication of the high regard with which he holds you and it shows how important he thinks it is to reengage with the international community in a new way and, also, the potential role that the UN can play in doing that.
In past years, the United States, along with a few others, has had to publicly oppose the activities of certain UN agencies because their agendas were clearly distasteful and, in some cases, unwise, or they were led by individuals who were opposed to legitimate and widely respected values. I think an example of that is UNESCO which, for a time, seemed dedicated to justifying the ending of press freedoms and other important principles.
In more recent years, the UN Commission on Human Rights has been chaired by nations that have had very questionable human rights records.
My question is, how should the United States respond when a nation is voted into a UN leadership position that has internal practices that are incompatible with the role of that UN position and the widely respected international values that we would hope every nation would hold?
MS. RICE: Senator, first of all, congratulations on joining this committee. It's very nice to see you here.
You ask an important question and I think that where we ought to start in dealing with the challenge that you pose and it does arise from time to time is to work energetically in diplomatic channels to prevent the accession of candidates whose orientations or values or perspectives would actually serve to undermine the institutions to which they are seeking service. And we have done that with some success in the past.
I recall, during the Clinton Administration, working with Secretary Albright and Ambassador Holbrook and others and many African nations to effectively present Sudan from obtaining a seat on the United Nations Security Council because they and we understood that Africa would not be well represented by one of the most egregious abusers of human rights on the continent, the most egregious abuser of human rights on the continent. And so, there is an opportunity and a role for diplomacy to get ahead of such outcomes, but it's hard to do so if we're not engaged and if we're not operating effectively and spiraling on all cylinders from within.
While there will be times when we must simply say, "We cannot abide a particular outcome," my strong preference and I believe that of the President-Elect and the Secretary of State Designate, will be for the United States to work energetically using all elements in our power, in particular, active and effective diplomacy, cooperative efforts to support candidates whom we believe will serve these institutions well and where necessary to oppose the candidacies of those who would undermine these institutions. That's the day-to-day elbow grease of diplomacy and I look forward to doing my utmost in service of those objectives, if I'm confirmed.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Shaheen. Dr. Rice, that was pretty easy, wasn't it? You did a great job.
MS. RICE: No, Senator, it was an honor though.
SEN. KERRY: Let me just take advantage of the moment before the vote states to say one thing as we close up and I want the people who are at the United Nations following this and those who follow United Nations activity closely to hear this.
A number of our colleagues raised the issue of reform at the UN. In the twenty-five years that I've now had the privilege of serving on this committee and Senator Lugar has been here longer than that. We've both seen the ebb and flow in this committee of reform efforts at the UN. I led some of them at one point and, together with Senator Pressler, we put in place some very strict requirements for dues and reform and, subsequently, as we fell behind and other problems arose, we made a different judgment about the wisdom of trying to get up to speed on money because it was becoming self-defeating. We were undoing the ability of the institution to do what we wanted it to and reform became even more complicated.
But I think it's really important for the folks involved in the leadership of the UN to recognize that this is a new moment with a new Administration and the excuses that I have heard over twenty-five years for some people's behavior which they choose over reform sort of to stick it in the eye of the U.S. or to kind of send a message has got to change.
I am convinced that this Administration, that you, Dr. Rice, and your initiatives at the UN and Secretary Clinton and the President are going to present a very different foreign policy and a very different level of diplomacy and listening and outreach and give people ample opportunity to be heard and to be part of the formation of many of these global efforts.
That said, there's going to be a lot less patience and they need to know this with the procrastination and the excuses and the using of some of these very valuable institutions as a means of somehow sending a message. The United Nations is too valuable; our time is too urgent now; the issues are too pressing and we need to come together.
I want to emphasize that as Chairman of the committee, I will do everything in my power to leverage a bipartisan effort here to hold that process accountable. We want it to succeed, but we want to be met fairly in the middle in the effort to have it succeed. Too many lives are lost and too many dangers are augmented and too many opportunities are bypassed because of that sort of "business as usual" attitude. We just can't afford it.
So Senator DeMint's questions and the other concerns expressed by members of the committee are going to be taken seriously by the committee as a whole and we look forward to really pressuring, cajoling, working, and nobody is going to come in there with an arrogant, overbearing, "Do this or else," "My way or the highway," attitude, but we are going to look for legitimate, cooperative, rational, common sense ways of trying to do these things better.
And I hope the folks you're going to work with are on notice about that. Senator Lugar?
The vote has begun. Dr. Rice, you're being saved by the Senate even as you're being grilled by the Senate. Thanks so much. I think you have acquitted yourself splendidly today. We really look forward to working with you. Our hope is to proceed forward on your nomination in a business meeting on Wednesday morning, at the latest, Thursday, and have you on the job and, hopefully, sworn in by the end of that day.
MS. RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you both, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar. I'm grateful.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you. With that, the record is open until 12:00 noon tomorrow. We expect any questions and answers to have been submitted appropriately so that we can do the filing and we thank you very much. We stand adjourned. Thank you.