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Symposium Report 2011- Immigration

For the first time ever, more people live in cities than in rural areas and people are living a truly urban life. The European Union is the closest experiment to open borders and works because the levels of disparities amongst the EU nations are not as wide as the disparities between Europe and North Africa.

Although exact figures are often thought to be unbelievable, it is estimated that there are approximately 214 million international migrants in the world today- this estimation does not include internal migrations. It should be noted that migrant numbers are not included in this statistic. Instead, migration scholars, such as Khalid Koser prefer to say that 3 percent of the total global population are international migrants, which is believed to be a more accurate statement. One in 35 people is an international migrant, constituting the population of the fourth biggest nation in the world, Indonesia. This may seem like an intimidating thought to think that an entire nation of migrants exists, but Koser asks the question, “Why is the forces of migration is so strong do the other 97 percent of the Earth’s population not migrant?”

Statistics can often be misinterpreted due to the differing definitions of migration terminology. The above stated numbers do not take into consideration the estimated 740 million internal migrants, according to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Despite the current economic crisis, migration has not slowed down significantly. In fact, during the financial crisis unemployment amongst migrants was not as large as to be thought because average citizens were thought to rather accept welfare check than take jobs they thought were beneath them. However, the quality of the life of migrants decreased.  Also during the global financial crisis, flows of irregular migrations decreased, but stocks of migrants increased for fear that after unemployment if they left they would not be able to come back.

Almost 50 percent of migrations now are woman migrants; this used to be due to reasons of marriage, whereas now women are seen as the breadwinners. The feminization of migration is due to many countries’ liberalization where women have a more important role in society, the need for services stereotypically taken on by women such as cooking and cleaning, as well as prostitution and human trafficking.

Migrants are often placed into the categories of legal or illegal, by those who use migration as a political tool, especially for re-election, whereas humanitarian organizations refer to migrants as documented and undocumented or irregular migrants. The term irregular migrants can be used in circumstances where irregular circumstances occur that cause the migrants to leave their documentation behind. Refugees are not included in the estimation of migrants. Contrary to popular thought most migrants come in legally and then become considered ‘illegal’ because they have overstayed their visas.

The term ‘voluntary migration’ has been highly contested. If a family’s home has been destroyed by a natural disaster, they are considered a forced migrant, but if a member of a family leaves the country to find work in another country because their country of origin is lacking openings, are they then considered to be ‘voluntary migrants.’ There is no simple solution to this question, typically governments see these individuals are voluntary migrants, whereas humanitarian organizations are more liberal in interpreting the events that led to migration.

Remittances are the money made by the international migrants that is sent back to the migrants’ families. The top three nations to receive remittances are India, China and Mexico and 50 percent of Tajikistan’s GDP is dependent on remittances. The 2010 flow of remittances is estimated to be about $316 billion. Although some governments may state that the amount of remittances leaving the country in which the money was made, hinders the economy, only 10 percent of remittances are sent back to the migrants’ country of origin and the other 90 percent is sent in the country the migrants are living in to pay for food, rent and other immediate expenses. The danger of remittances stands in that a cultural dependence of this flow of money is established and migration looks more appealing.

International migration law is not recognized as a sect of international law, although it is an emerging field. The UN convention of 1990 does not refer to admission of migrants, but only the legal status of migrants. One of the principles governing migration is that migration and expulsion of ‘aliens’ is a part of the sovereignty of a country. Domestic jurisdiction is an evolving concept and is thought to be better to use than sovereignty in legal terms. States no longer enjoy absolute discretion and must adhere to certain grounds of rejection of aliens, being: a threat to security, not meeting financial requirements, having a contagious disease, a lack of documentation, a prior violation of immigration laws, war criminal status or having a criminal record.

Many fallacies exist about the state of migrants, such as they are unhealthy and bring disease into the country. According to the IOM, this is false, as the strongest and healthiest individuals are those that migrate for work purposes. In fact not only are most migrants healthy, but migrants often underutilize health services and do not take away from public health services, as thought by some. The World Health Organization has reported that Australia has the most access to health care for migrants, whereas Qatar has the least access to health care. Unfortunately the most cited reason for migrants being rejected from the health care system is the government thinks it is too costly.  Switzerland claims that migrants receive full health equality services in hospitals, but migrants are forced to use a different entrance to the hospital, as it is inappropriate for them to enter through the same entrance as a ‘regular’ citizen of the country. The IOM has launched a campaign to educate both migrants and doctors as to what their rights are, as both parties have been fed different stories by governments and are unaware of what their rights and obligations are.

Governments spend billions of dollars a year on making policies concerning migration laws and then approximately three years  later these laws are scrapped and replaced with new ones. Koser believes these funds would be better spent on policy evaluation. When discussing migration, civil society is excluded from official migration dialogues and the legitimacy of representation when one representative represents a thousand organization flounders as a list of three of four concise priorities are difficult to comprise. Private sector is also not involved in migration dialogue, even though they are often a driving force of migration.

Solutions for the models for global governance of migration should exhibit more formal cooperation between states, engage in more robust and regional global dialogues, consider cooperation between regional consultative processes, as well as institutional reform, which would include the creation of a new agency, designating a lead agency from the existing agencies bringing the IOM into the UN system, considering a leadership or WO model. The obstacles that lie within the global governance of migration is that this may impede on a nation’s sovereignty, cause institutional inertia, increase North vs South relations and exhibit a lack of consensus amongst advocates.

The statistic of refugees does not include asylum seekers, internally displaced peoples or stateless persons. In order to be a refugee, the ‘refugee’ must be recognized by the host nation. There are two different ways to determine refugee status. There is the individual procedure and examination and the collective determination of a population. Legally speaking, ‘asylum seeker’ refers to a person who has not been officially recognized as a refugee and the definition of a refugee is based on the well-founded fear of persecution.

The refugee problem was first addressed in May of 1945 in response to the Holocaust and World War II. Within this timeframe there were 40 million refugees and internally displaced people, 13 million expelled Jews, 11.3 million forced labourers and 100 million refugees beyond the parameters of Europe. UNHCR was created during 1949-1950, to replace the IRO that was founded in 1947, as of January 1951. UNHCR’s effectiveness is punted against its non-political mission, as helping those in need is seen by opposing sides as a political act. However, the UNHCR’s objective is not to ask how or why the refugee situation is caused, but rather how to provide basic services for refugees, such as food and shelter.

After the WWII refugees, the next group of refugees came from Hungary in 1956, where the UNHCR helped resettled 200,000 refugees in thirty countries and repatriated 10 percent of the refugees. The next largest UNHCR operations to date occurred in Bangladesh (1970-1971) and then followed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Afghanistan is the single biggest refugee population in the world, being affected by the invasion of the Soviets, the Taliban rule, the “War on Terror,” as well as other internal conflicts. Interestingly enough, the United States of America is the single biggest donor to the UNHCR. Afghan refugees account for 40 percent of all the refugees in the world, not including Palestinian refugees. Proportionally Somalia has the biggest percentage of refugees and Colombia has the most IDPs, approximately three million. These IDPs receive aid from UNHCR although their legal status is less clear than that of refugees. Another group of people of concern to the UNHCR are settled refugees, who still have access to assistance programs.

The principle of non-refoulement is guaranteed by Article 33 of the Geneva Convention which states that a country cannot force people to go back to nation of persecution if they still feel a sense of persecution.

The right of asylum is not acknowledged as an individual right and falls under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 40: the right to seek and enjoy asylum. This however is not an obligation for a state to provide asylum.

In 1951 the UN convention relating to the status of refugees has contributed to providing durable solutions by the UNHCR to refugee situation including voluntary repatriation to the country of origin, local integration into the country of asylum and resettlement to a third country. However, the UNHCR has been shy about repatriation in the past and usually leaves it up to the IOM to handle repatriation as they are not a U.N. entity.

UNRWA- The United Nations Relief and Work Agency is short for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Special attention should be given to the word ‘Palestine,’ as there were refugees who lived in Palestine but were not of Palestinian descent, including Turks, Armenians and other minority groups. UNRWA is the only U.N. organization set up to face a specific refugee problem for a specific group of people, with more than 30,000 employees. UNRWA has a budget of $700 million, as well as a $250 million emergency fund. The United Nations brought in Gordon Clapp,  the former Director of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the USA to help shape UNRWA. UNRWA is not responsible for finding a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, but rather they are to provide schooling and humanitarian aid to Palestine refugees, the longest standing refugee issue in modern history.

In concern with human security in world politics, the concept of a ‘traditional’ security of ‘national’ security erodes from the traditional concept of safeguarding the population and core values of a nation. The three main reasons why this concept erodes with time is due to a shift from interstate to intrastate wars, a fragmentation of global or common threats and fragile or failed states’ security threats that appear above and below the state level. 

In a survey in South Sudan, citizens were asked if they felt a sense of human security for the months to come. A majority of the surveyed said yes, but their definition of human security was equated with food security. This in mind, an interdisciplinary method is needed for human security. Human security catalysts are often economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security factors. Environmental security is needed in cases where the well-being or survival of the community is being threated due to human activity that threatens the environment or in cases of environmental change or degradation caused by conflict.

Constructivism in a method for studying social phenomena that focuses on the role of ideas in shaping our identities and gives meaning to the world around us. Constructing security interests involves identifying the threats that weapons pose, the enemy and humanitarian intervention, keeping in mind that threats are a part of an ideological issue. Securitization on the other hand is when threats are socially constructed by powerful actors and accepted by a relevant audience and identification of an existential threat that takes an issue beyond the usual rules of policies and calls for urgent extreme or extra-legal measures to respond, for example: The war on terror or the war on drugs.

While new forms of multilateralism to address human security have been established, such as the Human Security Network, regional responses to human security and the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development have strengths such as their crossregional representation abilities, ministerial level initiatives and the taking on of cutting edge issues such as landmines and child soldiers, there are also weaknesses- they are too dependent on individual leadership, lack a consensus on issues of hierarchy and have bad timing and  weak follow through.

The objective of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development is to raise global awareness of the negative impact of armed violence and support the reduction of armed violence. There are about 700,000 deaths annually due to armed violence with 40-50,000 as a result of direct conflict, homicides at 490,000 and 200,000 as a result of indirect conflict deaths. Excess mortality rates are used in these armed violence statistics. There are at least 875 billion weapons held worldwide with more than 2/3 in civilian hands, ¼ with armed forces, few with police and less than 1% with armed groups. New issues on the human security agenda tackle issues such as landmines, cluster munitions, small arms and light weapons, child soldiers, civilian protection and conflict goods.

What is humanitarian action? According to the OECD/DAC in 2007 is to save lives, alleviate suffering, maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies and should be consistent with principles of human dignity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Humanitarian action is so relevant because it is easier to send money in contemporary times, it is foreign policy by default, media attention and it is a way to contain refugee issues.

To be a humanitarian is to have a transnational concern to help persons in exceptional distress while humanitarianisms propound loft goals and hide deep contradictions. Intervention on the other hand is the interference, forcible or supported by force, of one independent state in the internal affairs of the other.

There are for categories in categorizing humanitarianism. The first being the Dunantsists, who are strictly impartial, neutral and independent. Then there are the Wilsonians who are broadly tuned with foreign policy of their home country and have a liberal democratic peace agenda. Thirdly there are Faith Based, such as Islamic relief and fourthly there are the Solidarists who seek justice, human rights or development in addition to the objective of humanitarian assistance. There  is also a difference between development aid and humanitarian aid, as development aid is transformative, long term and utilizes local leadership and humanitarian aid has a conservative agenda, is short term and requires external intervention. There are five different action modes, three of which fall under the guise of protection: denunciation, mobilization and persuasion and the other two being support and substitution.

Actors of humanitarian intervention are those who have political interest and won’t refer to situations, such as Libya, as civil war. If it were to be referred to as a civil wall, humanitarian intervention crisis argument then collapses.

What is terrorism? Terrorism are a universal problem, social phenomenon, a strategy, a tactic, technique, crime, resorted to by the weak against the strong, psychological and physical weapons and are elusive in their goals. Terrorism has a long history starting with the Zealots in the year 60 AD with the Jews in Palestine against the Romans, then the Assassins in 1090-1270 in Persia and then the French Revolution in 1792-1794. However, modern terrorism is born in the 1860s by means of  an organic relationship between terrorism and technology, being triggered especially by World War I. And religious terrorism does not start until the1980s.

The initial terrorist mode is the destruction of the most harmful persons in government and the punishment of official lawlessness., but there are difficulties in defining terrorism because it is a disputed and nebulous concept, the definition must stay away from the avowed reasons of the terrorist, yet take them into account, the direct targets of violence aren’t necessarily the main targets and the problem at the crossroads of ideology. Hence, the US Army, FBI and Department of State do not have a standard, agreed upon definition of terrorism, in fact the United Nations have been meeting for 20-30 years concerning devising a standard definition. Despite the inability to define terrorism there are main agreed upon features of terrorist attacks: they are organized, deliberate and systematic, politically motivated, the usage of force, indiscriminately targeting of civilians, meant to communicate a problem, aimed at a symbol, conducted by state or non-state actors, part of a campaign and to achieve strategic direct or indirect results. 

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Human Rights Newsletter

Gratitude blog available here where you can leave comments

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming

gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible

odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get

activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people

deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people

to work.  Our tiny little small part of the world (Palestine now an

apartheid sate called a “Jewish state”) has become a major center of global

activism. This centrality can be due to many factors:

1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked

for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity –> Crusaderism),

the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked

(Judaism –>Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas

beginning to be hijacked (Islam –> Isis and Wahhabism).

2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than

in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human

rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and

engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing

(so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people).

Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda.

3. The 12 million Palestinians in the world, most refugees and others

squeezed into bantustans have been remarkably peaceful and tolerant and had

a long history of popular resistance for the past 130 years that provided a

stellar example to the world (see my 2012 book “Popular Resistance in

Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”).

4. Israeli citizens and the global community are increasingly joining hands

with us to demand justice as the only road to peace.

5. More and more people realize that peace in the “Middle East” (Western

Asia) and around the world is dependent on peace for Palestine. Zionism

with its (sometimes dominant, sometimes subservient) twin US imperialism

are and have been most destructive forces in causing global conflict.

But what really gives us optimism daily are the people we interact with.

Students at the universities who see the importance of knowledge (power)

and come to school with enthusiasm even in the face of suppression of their

movement. Farmers that work hard in their fields even as land and water are

being taken from them by the occupiers. Unarmed young demonstrators showing

bravery in challenging the heavily armed Israeli forces (who occasionally

murder them). Thousands of political prisoners and “administrative

detainees” who resist the prisoners (one on hunger strike is close to

death). Activists who sometimes sacrifice comforts to be with us.

Organizers of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities around the

world who refuse to be silenced by illegal measures their governments try

to impose on them to suppress free speech. Volunteers at our activities

from refugee camp youth centers like Al-Rowwad to our Institute of

Biodiversity and Sustainability ( ).

Sometimes small actions make us retain our sanity and gives joy and meaning

to our lives. Just this past week:

– A small village of Izbet al-Tabib managed to gather 300 demonstrators

protesting the illegal confiscation of land and resources to serve settlers.

-We saved a cattle egret (bird with long legs and beak from the heron

group) which had been shot and with a macerated wing. We did an operation

that saved its life (unfortunately the wing had to be amputated).

-We released a fox that was drowning in a water treatment pool in the

Bethlehem garbage dump site.

– My tourism class did an exercise to help in a local tourism promotion


-We noted several species of butterflies in our botanic garden already and

the flowers of rare orchids and even the Star of Bethlehem

-We had our first class in biodiversity for the new master program in

environmental biology at Birzeit University.

-We received dozens of visitors to our facilities and added to our very

large network of friends (now tens of thousands)

-We submitted two small grant proposals (we hope to start to do major

fundraising soon for our museum, botanical garden, and institute of

biodiversity and sustainability)

-Our aquaponic system is doing great and we expect our first harvest next

week (lettuce)

– We said goodbye to some volunteers and we welcomed others who helped us

build this institution.

We expect to receive more volunteers next week including a professor from

Jordan and an aquaponics researcher from Switzerland and at least 10

students from Bethlehem University doing their community service. We are so

grateful for all the above and we welcome volunteers and supporters with

all backgrounds and skills. We are guided by love and respect (to

ourselves, to others, then to nature). We are strengthened amid all the

suffering (here in Gaza, in Syria, in Yemen etc) by human connections and

by caring for each other.

Israeli soldiers beat detained Palestinian teenaged boys

Palestinian Teacher Among World’s Top 10

Reconstruction Of Gaza: Zero Buildings, Massive Profit

Should Jews Have To Pay Reparations for Slavery? Richard Kreitner

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have

roses.” Alphonse Karr

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor and (Volunteer) Director

Palestine Museum of Natural History

Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability

Bethlehem University

Occupied Palestine

CAIR Condemns Paris Terror Attacks

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      CAIR Condemns Paris Terror Attacks

      (WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/13/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned terror attacks in Paris that left many people dead and injured.
      In a statement, CAIR said:
      “These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification. We condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured and with all of France. The perpetrators of these heinous attacks must be apprehended and brought to justice.”
      CAIR has consistently and repeatedly condemned all acts of terrorism wherever they have occurred.
      SEE: CAIR’s Condemnation of Terrorism
      CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
    • – END –

      CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171,




Council on American-Islamic Relations

453 New Jersey Ave, S.E., Washington, D.C., 20003

Council on American-Islamic Relations Copyright © 1994. All rights reserved.

Transcript: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Donald Booth



THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2015, 1:00 P.M. EDT


MODERATOR:  Okay.  Welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center.  This is an on-the-record briefing today.  We are honored to have with us the Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Ambassador Donald Booth.  We also are lucky to have with us today the Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Todd Haskell, who will take questions at the end of this briefing on the Young African Leaders Initiative, YALI, which is rolling out this year today.  And that’s all I’ll say for now.  I’d like to please welcome Ambassador Donald Booth.  (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR BOOTH:  Okay.  Well, thank you.  A pleasure to be here again, UNGA week in New York.  Let me just say a few words as an introduction and happy to take questions.

On South Sudan, as you may be aware, there was a high-level event on South Sudan that the Secretary-General hosted on Tuesday morning.  And the thrust of that meeting and the thrust of what the United States has been pushing is for forward movement on implementation of the peace agreement that was signed by the parties in late August.  Since the signing of the peace agreement by the opposition and group of former detainees on the 17th of August and by the government on the 26th of August, both armed groups have ratified the agreement through their legislative assemblies.  They have issued orders for a cessation of hostilities for a ceasefire, and they have engaged in a workshop on security issues in Addis Ababa under the aegis of the IGAD mediation team.  There has been progress made in that regard. 

However, there was an interlude of an increase in fighting that happened shortly after the order for the ceasefire went out.  The United States acted in the Security Council to propose sanctioning those generals that we felt were most responsible for that uptick in fighting.  We believe that that action helped to contribute to the diminution of fighting that occurred a few days after that action was initiated.

At this point, the focus really needs to be on getting stood up the mechanisms foreseen in the peace agreement, the most critical being that of the joint monitoring and evaluation committee, the JMEC.  The IGAD is supposed to appoint the chairman of the JMEC.  We are hoping that that might happen this week.  We, again, continue to urge IGAD to move forward and do that as quickly as possible.  The JMEC will, in effect, become the locus for moving forward the implementation process.  It will then be responsible for the monitoring mechanism, which will oversee the ceasefire and the security arrangements.  It will take over from IGAD’s monitoring and verification mechanism. 

There are a number of other activities that need to be undertaken.  The peace agreement itself needs to be reconciled into the existing South Sudanese constitution through the national constitutional amendment commission.  And the parties also need to get together and begin the actual preparations for the formation of the cabinet of the transitional government. 

The security arrangements – there is the need to move forward now on the separation of forces that was discussed at the Addis workshop, the cantonment of forces by both sides, and the establishment of the joint military command center and a joint operation center that would also coordinate with the UN as well.

All of these things need to move forward.  We continue to press the parties to do so.  We will be continuing to engage the South Sudanese parties on that and as well as continuing to engage with the UN Mission in South Sudan on the role that they can play.  We are trying to move forward a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan and hope to be – that that will be accomplished in the next few days.

So that’s really the focus on South Sudan – I can just repeat it one more time – implementing the peace agreement.  That is the focus that we have. 

On Sudan, which is the other account that I have, I have – about a month ago did a visit to Khartoum, my first visit with engaging the government there since I had become envoy.  It followed on a visit that we had by then Professor Ghandour, now Foreign Minister Ghandour, to Washington in February, where we were trying to resume the dialogue and the engagement necessary to find a way to address the issues of concern to both of our countries and to address the concerns in the bilateral relationship.

From the U.S. perspective, the key message remains that Sudan needs to stop fighting its people, stop the wars in Darfur and the Two Areas and find a way to move forward toward a political accommodation that will enable Sudan, which is a diverse country, to live at peace with itself.  So that is the message we continue to press on that.  We, again, will be engaging the Sudanese here on that, trying to advance that agenda. 

So let me leave it at that and take questions from you.

QUESTION:  Vasco de Jesus, VascoPress Comunicacoes, Brazil.  I’m curious to know, you mention about the need for the constitution to be amended to accept the peace agreement.  And how far are we from that happening, if you have – you can help me?  Thank you. 

AMBASSADOR BOOTH:  The National Legislative Assembly has already ratified the peace agreement.  So now this is really a technical legal matter of areas where the peace agreement may not be consistent with the existing constitution.  For example, the peace agreement calls for the creation of the position of first vice president.  It also calls for an expansion of the legislative assembly.  So those are the types of issues that, for legal purposes, would need to be reconciled with the existing constitution.  The national constitutional amendment commission – the parties have nominated their representatives to that, but it has not actually sat down to meet.  But it should be a relatively straightforward part of the implementation of the agreement. 

QUESTION:  I had a couple questions.  My name is Ashish Pradhan.  I’m from International Crisis Group.  On South Sudan, I was wondering, you mentioned the JMEC chair position that hasn’t been filled yet.  I was wondering your views on why that hasn’t happened.

And on Sudan, you mentioned that the issue of – yeah, on the issue of the national dialogue, your views on that, and why that has or hasn’t been taken forward.

AMBASSADOR BOOTH:  Well, on the JMEC chair, the IGAD heads of state need to discuss that and come to an agreement on the candidate, because the JMEC, in the first instance, will report to IGAD.  It will also – the chair has the ability under the peace agreement to report also to the African Union Peace and Security Council and to the chairperson of the African Union as well as to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the Security Council of the United Nations.  But the first line of reporting is to be guarantors of the agreement and the guarantors are the other states of IGAD.  So as soon as the heads of state have finished their consultations and agree on that candidate, I’m sure they will move forward.  Again, we urge them to do that as quickly as possible.

I did not actually mention the national dialogue, but it is something that when President Bashir first announced the idea of a national dialogue in January of 2014, he announced a dialogue that would be inclusive, that would include the armed as well as unarmed opposition, and would address the issues of peace, the economy, and national identity.  And there was a welcoming of such a broad, inclusive national dialogue by the United States and by many other international partners.  Because the – as President Mbeki, who has now long headed the African Union’s efforts to not only to resolve outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan but also to try to find a way to resolve the conflicts in Sudan – one statement he said that there’s not a Darfur problem in Sudan, there’s a Sudan problem in Darfur.  And by that he meant that it’s the way that Sudan has been governed basically since independence with a very centralized focus that has resulted in various elements of population in the periphery of the country feeling disenfranchised, feeling not to be fully participating in the political life of the country. 

As you know, the civil war – the Anyanya I and Anyanya II that resulted ultimately in self-determination and independence for South Sudan – had gone on for the better part of 50 years, basically since independence with only about a 11-year break between 1972 and 1983.  So this idea of not just addressing cessation of hostilities from one conflict and then another conflict, but to truly get at the underlying causes of those conflicts.  And so the national dialogue was foreseen by many South Sudanese, including by the armed opposition, as a possible way forward on that. 

Unfortunately, the conditions for moving forward on that were not met.  The idea of a pre-dialogue to discuss how to move forward on a dialogue that would have raised the confidence particularly of the opposition to participate in this was not attended by the government when President Mbeki tried to convene it in March this year.

So after the elections, the government announced that they would once again resume this national dialogue.  They’re talking about doing it this month, October.  But again, there have been no actions taken that would create the conditions to bring in particularly the armed opposition but also many of the unarmed opposition into this dialogue at this point.  So we continue to encourage the government in Sudan to look at creating a conducive environment if it’s to move forward on this. 

But our focus right now is encouraging both the government, which recently announced that it would undertake a two-month cessation of hostilities, and the armed opposition, the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which recently indicated a willingness to undertake a six-month cessation of hostilities, just to get those – the government and the opposition to move forward on actually changing things on the ground, actually to stop the fighting, give that opening for negotiations to begin.  And that, I think, would be one of the best confidence-building measures that could occur, which is if there’s an absence of fighting, then the confidence to be able to go in and talk will be vastly increased.

QUESTION:  Our VOA correspondent for Sudan is not here today but submitted a question; I’m going to read that aloud:  “The State Department yesterday congratulated the AU Peace and Security Commission for releasing the report on human rights violations committed during the conflict in South Sudan.  The last time the AU said it was releasing the report, it was given only to the Government of South Sudan, and after some militating, to the opposition.  Has the report been made available to the public this time around if it has been released?  And if it has been published, is the United States satisfied that this is, indeed, a full report into what happened in South Sudan?  If not, do we know when it will be available?”  Thank you.

AMBASSADOR BOOTH:  Well, we’ve welcomed the decision of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, which met at summit-level here last Saturday to release the report.  As far as I’m aware, at this very moment we have actually seen a copy of it, but they have committed that it will be released in the very near future.  So we look forward to that.  We obviously would like to read it – we have not seen it to date – and we’ll then decide, obviously, what we think of it.  We can’t prejudge what we haven’t read. 

But we believe that the report – it covers a crucial period of the conflict in South Sudan and will contribute, I think, to the work of accountability and reconciliation that is foreseen in the peace agreement, both to contribute to the work of the National Commission for Healing and Reconciliation and to the Hybrid Court which the peace agreement called for the African Union to work with Sudan to establish. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Are there any other questions? 

QUESTION:  Ambassador Booth, a quick question.  To the many people in South Sudan who may feel apathetic towards the peace process, do you have any words to the people of South Sudan regarding U.S. support and international support to the people? 

AMBASSADOR BOOTH:  The U.S. commitment has been very consistent and very strong to the people of South Sudan as they have endured this totally unnecessary and manmade conflict which has inflicted so much pain and suffering and death on many of them, created a humanitarian crisis in the country.  We have been the leading donor.  We have contributed over $1.3 billion of humanitarian assistance.  We’ve also maintained some of our development activities in areas such as health, education, and agriculture, which directly benefit people.

So the United States has stood with the people of South Sudan.  We stood with them during their long fight to achieve self-determination and independence, and we’ve stood with them through this conflict and we will continue to stand with the people of South Sudan and with those of their leaders who will commit themselves to making this peace agreement work.  It’s absolutely essential that we have the leadership of South Sudan committed to this peace agreement.  That really is going to be the peace dividend for the people of South Sudan.  It’s going to be the absence of fighting and being able to move forward once again to try to move on development of the country and to create that sense of nationhood so that, again, that diverse country can begin to move forward in peace and tranquility. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Ambassador.


MODERATOR:  (Inaudible) YALI.  Again, we have Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Haskell here to announce the rollout of the Young African Leaders Initiative.  Thank you. 

MR HASKELL:  Thanks very much.  I mean, this is a very important day for us and we’re very excited at the State Department about it.  Today online is the – for the third time is the application for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative.  Some of you might recall that this program online has attracted literally tens of thousands of applicants over the last couple of years, and this year I think we’re going to do even better.  There’s tremendous excitement about it. 

The President has declared at the African Leaders Summit last year that the number of people participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship this year would double from 500 as it was the last two years to a thousand this year, so it’s a much larger group.  And as President Obama has said, we’ve had many initiatives in Africa, many efforts, and some of them certainly cost a lot more than YALI.  But the President has said that this is, he believes, his most important legacy in our relationship with Africa and to the outreach to young Africans. 

So what is it and where does it come from?  I think we have to – President Obama laid out his vision for this that there is a tremendous youth bulge in Africa and that we, the United States, needed to reach out to young people in Africa.  So in order to do that, he has established a series of different initiatives within the Young African Leadership Initiative, but the flagship program is, again, the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which is going online today and people are beginning to apply. 

Those selected to participate in the fellowship will be brought to the United States next summer for six weeks of academic study.  They’ll be participating in America’s finest universities.  These are people between the ages of 25 and 35.  And at the end of their academic period, they’ll come to Washington and they’ll actually have a summit with, among others, President Obama, who will spend time with the leaders.  Then when they get back to Africa and their home countries, they’ll be eligible for numerous grants, professional development opportunities, possibilities of meeting with senior U.S. officials visiting the region, the ability to travel in the region and meet with other fellows. 

And I’ve actually just come back from the region traveling through, and as I always do whenever I travel in the region – and the same is frankly true of Secretary Kerry, it’s true of Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield, and it’s true of the President on his last trip – we always make an effort to meet with the YALI fellows in the countries we visit to see how they’re doing. 

And it’s really an amazing and inspiring group.  When I was just there I talked to folks who were starting businesses that were employing other young people, acting as mentors for other young people.  They’ve formed NGOs to fight gender violence.  I would note that in the Ebola-affected countries at the center of the U.S. (inaudible) efforts to battle Ebola, the YALI fellows stepped up in each of those three countries and played really important roles.  So this is the beginning, I think, of an outreach by the U.S. Government to the young people of Africa, who, frankly, are the majority of Africans right now, and an effort to establish a channel of communication with which we can work to them and bring about positive change in the future in Africa. 

So I would urge young people across Africa.  The website is YALI,  Go there. Please start your application.  The application closes November 11th.  This is – as so many of the fellows have told me, this is a life-changing opportunity, the opportunity to attend our finest university, meet with senior U.S. Government officials, have the opportunity to apply for different grants and professional development opportunities, a real opportunity to move forward and take your country and your continent with you in partnership with the United States.

Thank you very much.  I am happy to take any questions if you have them.  Okay.

QUESTION:  I’m Vasco de Jesus with Press Communications Brazil.  It is great to hear and I commend the American Government for this initiative.  And I’m wondering, has the United States done anything such as big and revolutionary towards the youth anywhere else?

MR HASKELL:  In fact, there has been such a tremendous response to YALI – which was the Young African Leadership Initiative – the White House, in conjunction with the State Department and USAID, have actually looked at doing it in other places.  So we actually have a program, and I’m sorry if I’m going to go all acronym on you, but there is – for Southeast Asia we have YSEALI now, which is starting out, but it’s the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative.  And then actually in Latin America as well we are looking at the somewhat unfortunate acronym, YLAI, which is, I believe, Y-L-A-I, Young Latin American Initiative, yes?  Those – YALI is definitely the leader because it’s been going for three years, and frankly, has – the President has pushed a lot of resources.  But we’re looking at youth outreach around the world.  It’s definitely – I mean, it’s almost a cliche.  But obviously the youth are our future, and it’s where our relationships have to be.

Thank you.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.


# # #

Keynote Address at the Building Pan-Asian Connectivity Conference

Speeches: Keynote Address at the Building Pan-Asian Connectivity Conference

03/11/2015 12:08 PM EDT

Keynote Address at the Building Pan-Asian Connectivity Conference


Neil Kromash, Deputy Director, Office of South Asian Regional Affairs

Kolkata, India

March 10, 2015

Thank you for that kind introduction. It’s great to be back in wonderful India, even if only for a brief visit.

I’d also like to thank the organizers of this really timely and important conference on Pan-Asian connectivity – the Observer Research Foundation, Indiana University Bloomington, and my colleagues at the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata and Embassy New Delhi. And thanks to the Oberoi Grand Hotel for hosting this meeting today in such a beautiful venue. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes to pull these kinds of events together. I really appreciate all the time and effort involved by everyone.

I want to start out by saying what an honor it is for me to be invited to speak in front of so many distinguished and influential participants. On the long plane ride from Washington I had a lot of time to prepare and read through the conference materials, which included the bios of the panelists in attendance. The amount of knowledge and years of experience gathered in this room – representatives from government, the business community, think tank organizations, academia, and the media world – is incredible. And so I am really looking forward to the discussions that will take place over the next two days – exchanging views, expanding networks, sharing ideas, and most of all, learning from the collective wisdom and experience possessed by everyone here.

My first visit to Kolkata was about three years ago. One of my colleagues – from the State Department’s East Asia and Pacific Bureau, and I from the South and Central Bureau – went on a long and winding trip through India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand. Our goal was to take an in-depth look at physical connections (borders, roads, power, ports, bridges, etc.), economic growth and trade possibilities, and multilateral initiatives that had the potential to enhance regional integration between South and Southeast Asia. Over the course of nearly three weeks and twelve cities, we had the chance to meet with many key figures across the region: government policymakers and opposition figures, academics, the business community, NGO workers, think tanks, journalists, etc. During our stopover in Kolkata, I am certain that we spoke with and learned from many who are sitting in this room right now. We visited sea ports and land borders and custom facilities, visited crowded capitals, rural areas, and even remote outposts. We drove on good, paved roads and bad, rutted dirt tracks. All in all, the journey was a whirlwind, but it offered us a unique opportunity to take a snapshot on the state of connectivity across the region.

One of my main takeaways from that trip in 2012 was despite the many challenges facing the region there was near uniform consensus, no matter who we spoke to, that greater trade and physical connectivity were essential to realizing the region’s vast but largely untapped potential. That better transit and energy linkages would ease the flow of goods between the rapidly expanding economies of South and Southeast Asia. That an improved regulatory environment throughout the region would serve as a catalyst for increased private investment. That enhanced technological networks would spur innovation and act as a natural segue into the region’s indelible entrepreneurial spirit. That improved linkages would create jobs and other opportunities that could help lift millions out of poverty.

When I returned to Washington, this vision – which we refer to as the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor, or IPEC – gained a sharper focus in our policy efforts, and we have not stopped working since. Many of you are familiar with my bosses – Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Fatema Sumar – who have crisscrossed the region to promote strengthened regional cooperation in the form of a more interconnected Indo-Pacific. Our message has been consistent and clear – the U.S. will remain a strong and steady partner in bringing the countries of the region together, as well as other stakeholders such as the multilateral development banks and the private sector, to identify where and when our diplomatic engagement and policy advocacy makes the most sense.

I don’t want to leave anyone here with the impression that U.S. support for improved pan-Asian connectivity is an abstract quest by a disinterested party. Everyone here knows this is not the case. Beyond our very tangible desire for better regional stability, we also have our own economic interests at stake. Greater linkages in this part of the globe will benefit the American economy and the American people, in the form of growth and jobs. However, we are not coming to this effort empty-handed. On our side, we have much to offer – cutting-edge technology, innovative partnerships, and a system centered on fairness and transparency. And so we see ourselves as true partners with all the countries of the region in this ambitious integration effort, from which everyone stands to gain.

I want to underscore one key point: that while the U.S. strongly supports these efforts – and as I just noted even stands to gain from them – expanding connectivity between South and Southeast Asia must be, first and foremost, a regionally-led endeavor. There is no substitute for regional ownership, and there is obviously a lot of work ahead. Myanmar – South Asia’s eastern overland gateway to the markets of Southeast Asia – is still in the process of standing on its feet after decades of isolation. And within South Asia itself, most of the experts in this room are familiar with the oft-repeated statistics: that by some measures, this region is one of the least economically connected areas in the world, with less than five percent of intra-regional trade flows and less than one percent of intra-regional investment flows. These kind of dismal numbers are not normally cause for optimism, but where some see failure we really do see tremendous opportunity. Across the horizon, there has been real leadership from regional governments to forge a new era of cooperation and prosperity.

India, as the anchor of South Asia and an indispensable partner of the United States, obviously plays a leading role in this regional equation. On this front, Prime Minister Modi and his Government are off to an excellent start. India’s rebranded “Act East” policy has moved beyond rhetoric and is taking shape across the Indo-Pacific through summit-level engagements with the countries of ASEAN, trade agreements and other strategic investments meant to open new markets to the region. It also did not escape our attention in Washington that the Prime Minister’s first two foreign trips were to Nepal and Bhutan, two important neighbors full of untapped hydroelectric resources that could form the foundation for a regional energy market. In the aftermath of new, separate power agreements between India and both countries, there is real hope that the Indian Government is poised to help make these energy connections become a reality. We are also watching, with much enthusiasm, the steps between India and Bangladesh to pursue the development of electricity grid connections, as well as other projects to the east such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, which when completed will create additional opportunities for investment, trade, and people-to-people contacts. We also welcome India’s interest in joining the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as the Indian economy is a dynamic part of the Asian economy.

Nepal too, poses great opportunities. Nepal was recently selected for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact assistance, a potential game-changer which recognizes Nepal’s advances in governance, economic freedom, and investing in people. Over the next five years we will be working closely with the Nepalese government to implement the MCC compact with a key focus on developing its vast hydropower resources while addressing badly needed infrastructure and regulatory reforms. We know this transformation will not be easy, nor are we likely to see results overnight, but this initiative has the potential to improve Nepal’s economy, increase regional trade and provide a catalyst of clean energy for the entire region.

Even closer to Kolkata, Bangladesh – the world’s seventh most populous country – is sometimes overlooked in the discussion about regional connectivity but it shouldn’t be. Rich in natural resources and strategically situated at the intersection of China, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh enjoys advantageous geography that makes it an ideal hub for connectivity. Despite ongoing political turmoil there, we continue to seek areas where we can strengthen our bilateral relationship with Bangladesh, and regional economic cooperation remains high on the list.

Myanmar, which I’ve already mentioned, is another area of significant opportunity. Since its political transition got underway in 2011, foreign investment inside the country has more than quadrupled. So many challenges remain, but as the undeniable conduit between South and Southeast Asia, Myanmar and its improving economic climate has a big role to play in the region’s future capacity to ensure goods and services flow freely across borders.

And finally, I don’t want to forget the positive developments taking place in Sri Lanka, where the January election brought a new government and overturned a longstanding autocratic regime. The U.S. will do all it can to support the new government’s efforts to restore democracy, heal fragile ethnic tensions, and achieve more diversified economic growth.

Before I finish, I want to touch briefly on the importance we also see in emerging regional organizations. We believe certain institutions such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC, is well situated to advance important regional objectives such as transit and trade. We know BIMSTEC is in its nascent phase, but the decision by member states to create a secretariat in Dhaka last year is a positive step, and we are closely watching the development of this organization as it gains its legs. In the maritime sphere, we see the Indian Ocean Rim Association, or IORA, as a promising forum to address shared interests such as: freedom of navigation, anti-piracy, climate change, fisheries management, and maritime scientific collaboration.

So in conclusion, promoting pan-Asian connectivity is an issue that has, and will continue to have a strong and enduring U.S. commitment, and where we see great opportunities for cooperation with the countries of the region.

I want to thank you again for your warm hospitality. I look forward to our discussions over the next two days.

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FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2015, 10:30 A.M. EST


MODERATOR:  Okay.  Let’s get started.  Good morning, everybody.  Welcome to the Foreign Press Center on a very cold and snowy Friday.  I really appreciate you all coming in.  As you know, our speaker this morning is Ms. Jane Harman, the president of the Wilson Center, and a former nine-term congresswoman.  And she will be talking about trade promotion authority and free trade agreements from the standpoint of politics and how these play in America and in congress, based on her extensive experience being part of any number of FTAs over the years.

And so without further ado, I will turn it over to Ms. Harman for some opening remarks.

MS. HARMAN:  Thank you.  Well, thank you, Mike, and good morning.  You all get a special Girl Scout award for getting here.  Apparently the RSVP list was much longer but all those people are stuck in metros.  Uber didn’t come.  It’s too warm under their duvets or whatever it is.  But you get an award.  And I do too, by the way, and so does Mike, and so does Meg King, who is the strategic advisor to the Wilson Center, and so does Erin – she gets a special thank you for tours in difficult places; maybe some of you do too.

But anyway, I’m happy to talk about trade.  It is something that interests me, and my perspective, as Mike said, is as one who has spent years – hundreds of years – focused on security – U.S. security relationships around the world and as one who was in the hardly little band of pro-trade Democrats while I served in Congress.  In fact, in just kind of looking at where is TPA, someone on my staff pointed out that when it last came up in the House in 2002, I was one of 25 Democrats who voted for it.  That is not a huge number.  I do not remember how many Democrats were in the House, but I’d guess sorta, kinda, 200.  So do the math.  That’s not a lot of Democrats.

Now why was that?  Because the politics of voting for trade for a Democrat – and obviously now for some Republicans, too – are very hard.  And I knew going into that vote that a lot of labor unions were not going to be happy about it and they represent, I’m sure now and did then, a number of my constituents.  But I felt – and I feel – that the politics of trade for the U.S. are positive and that trade builds jobs, contrary to what some claim, and that we either have a choice to be in the world economy or not.  And I think “not” is a worse choice.  That sort of sounds like the arguments around Iran.  (Laughter.)  Do we want to do a deal or not?  And which way does it play out better?  And on that, by the way, I come out for doing a good deal – or a good enough deal.  But it’s the same thing here.  Doing a good enough trade deal is better than not doing a trade deal.

And so at any rate TPA was passed – barely.  I don’t remember the vote in 2002.  It has since expired and here we are again.  We’ve seen this movie a number of times, but I think this time the stakes are even higher.  Maybe there would be something called permanent TPA; I doubt it.  But I was part of the plot in Congress in the late ’90s for permanent trade relations with China.  That was another hard vote, but I voted for that, and I think it’s much better that that doesn’t expire every decade or so.

At any rate, here’s what I know about this, and I’m sure you can talk to people more current than I am on it, but here is what I know about this.  That – I know that this year is the critical time to do this.  If we don’t do it this year, TPP, which is almost completed – and again, someone else can tell you all the details – if we don’t do it this year, TPP or at least any role we play in TPP, I think is gone.  And any claim we had to rebalance our relationships in Asia, which is what the pivot is, becomes much harder.  I also think if we don’t do it this year the negotiations on TTIP with Europe, which are less far advanced, slow down or maybe fail.  And again, I think that TTIP is another building block in terms of shoring up the united front we have against a different threat, which is Russia.

And so I think TPA is the crucial element to enabling us to get to the extent we have the – major influence to getting us to conclude these deals.  And I think not doing these deals is very bad for the U.S. – our ability to project influence in the world.  And it’s not just bad for our economic relationship, it’s bad for our security relationship, because they are totally intertwined.

So that would be kind of point one.  Point two, I see a clear economic advantage for us, putting aside the security and advantage for us – economic advantage at home from trade, and exports – I give President Obama a lot of credit for focusing on exports.  Exports build jobs, and that case hasn’t been made well enough, but it needs to be made, that when companies can export they hire people.  And hiring people in America is something we’re all in favor of.  Obviously, the economy’s improved here, but I think the value of exports to U.S. jobs is absolutely clear.  And we should never underestimate it.

And I think further that Obama’s willingness – and it’s in his 2016 budget – to increase trade adjustment assistance by 50 percent – goes up from like $6.50 to $9.50 million in the 2016 budget – is a tool that as yet has not been effectively used or effectively enough used.  Sure, it’s – but I suggested to the Administration that they make clearer to members what TAA could mean to people in their districts who are threatened by exports.  And I think it’s a win-win.  I think exports build jobs; I think TAA builds jobs, too.

And last comment about TAA:  I think TAA used to upscale people who also could be part of the export market is a win-win.  Better skills mean that people get higher pay, and people with higher pay and better skills are obviously better for enhancing the economy.  And I think we haven’t put all this together as well as we might.

So in conclusion, I think TPA is crucial for U.S. influence in the world.  It’s an economic issue and it’s a security issue.  And I think that TAA, as an added tool, helps on its own merits, but also is a way to help get TPA passed by Congress.  And I have no idea how many Democrats or Republicans are definite on this vote, but I think at the moment we’re not there.  And I was reading – I guess this is the Washington – I don’t know if this is the Post or the Times, but it was an article over the weekend, counting on Wyden to help deliver a trade deal.  I think a lot of it comes down to how skillful Ron Wyden is and how brave he is as the new chairman of the relevant Senate committee.  And it also – the case wasn’t helped by McConnell moving swiftly to try to put stuff on the floor and basically cutting out the Democrats.

So hopefully that will repair, Wyden will be skillful, and there will be the right deal for the right TPA, and it will pass.  And I think it would be an enormous accomplishment for both parties.  I don’t see this as an Obama win; I see this as an American win.  And just unfortunately almost never do we ever see things in those terms.

So how about some questions?

MODERATOR:  As always, folks, please identify yourself, your outlet, and then go ahead and ask your questions.  The folks in New York, step up to the podium, and we’ll call on you in turn.

QUESTION:  Yeah, good morning.  My name is Stefan Grobe.  I’m with Euronews, European television.


QUESTION:  You kind of alluded to opposition in this country to a trade deals when you mentioned the trade unions.  I want to focus on the TTIP negotiations.  There seem to be – there seems to be opposition in – on both sides of the Atlantic —

MS. HARMAN:  Correct.

QUESTION:  — for basically the same reasons.  Now, I can sort of understand why the United States were to negotiate a trade agreement with Nigeria or some countries that are not at the same – on the same level, but a trade agreement between the United States and Europe should be a no-brainer, right?  Why is there so much opposition?

MS. HARMAN:  Well, there’s opposition in Europe too.  And again, I’m not – I can’t answer you on a granular level.  If you ask me about provision 217 or something, call Mike Froman.  I don’t mean to be indifferent, but that – I just haven’t focused on that specifically because I’m not voting on it and I – this sort of general policy issues are what the Wilson Center focus is on.  So I don’t want to pretend that I know something I don’t know.

But opposition always comes up on GMOs.  I think there’s still a chicken issue, whatever livestock is now involved with hormones.  There’s opposition on some of the intellectual property issues, on cyber security, and a lot of these things are coming up on the European side.  There’s also opposition on the American side now.  I don’t know if she’s only focused on TPP, but by a junior senator from Massachusetts on the way – on the process.  I think it’s more than the substance.  She feels that there are secret deals with corporations being negotiated in these agreements, and she is for full transparency and is objecting on that basis.

But in addition to that, sadly, some labor unions in the United States see this as a zero-sum game.  They think that exports lose U.S. jobs and only if we don’t do this, or certainly don’t do this on a large scale, can we build U.S. jobs.  And I respectfully disagree with that.  I don’t think that the history proves that out.  I think it is a positive-sum game.  I actually think we can do both, especially if we skillfully use trade adjustment assistance.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Hi.  I’m Jennifer Lee with Hong Kong Phoenix TV.  I have a question regarding the TPP.  So, Undersecretary Cathy Novelli was here and then she mentioned even we don’t have the TPA, it won’t prevent the TPP forward.  And she said it’s hopefully we can have the TPP done this spring.  So I wonder, you think what we are going to face if we have the TPP done but we don’t have the TPA bill then, and you also said it’s going to be make the Obama Administration’s rebalancing effort even harder.  Can you elaborate more on that?

MS. HARMON:  Well, I don’t know.  Again, maybe the negotiations will conclude before there is TPA.  I would be surprised if that were true, but she’s, again, much closer to it than I am and she used to work at USTR and she may know things that I don’t know.  But if they conclude and the agreement is not ratified by the Senate, the U.S. is not in the agreement.  And that’s what I was talking about.  I think that the world could potentially leave us out, and I think that’s very harmful to us.  I don’t think this is a time when if the U.S. doesn’t play, the deal stops.  And so I worry about that.  But the Senate will not ratify this agreement if there’s not a process that enables it to ratify the agreement.  No one wants the Senate to renegotiate the agreement.

TPA is a place where things that matter to the United States can be inserted.  The Senate won’t vote up or down on a deal that doesn’t adequately protect the environment or it doesn’t adequately protect labor rights or – pick your issue: human trafficking – protect against human trafficking or GMOs or – I’m making a case for what you could put, and there have to be reports on a regular basis to Congress and all that stuff.  But that’s where it belongs.  It doesn’t belong in – around a negotiating table in, pick an Asian country, with some member of Congress sitting there.  And if that doesn’t get done, the U.S. participation in the trade agreement doesn’t get done.

And just one last point, which I’m sure Cathy made, is – and that is that if we really want to protect labor and environmental rights, we need to be in these agreements, not outside them.

QUESTION:  Actually, Pat Reber from the German Press Agency.  Hi.


QUESTION:  I – my question was very much along the lines of my colleague here.  In one of the hearings just in the past couple weeks, the big issue that was brought up by – it is on —

MS. HARMAN:  I can hear you.  You’re on.

QUESTION:  — okay – by critics of TPA or people who were wary – it was, I believe, in the Senate – of TPA was the issue of environmental rights and labor rights.  I don’t quite understand, when you say that exports – U.S. exports are a threat to U.S. labor, why would that be?  I would think U.S. exports would create more jobs and labor —

MS. HARMAN:  Well, I not making – I didn’t say I agree with that argument; that’s what they argue.  They see it as a zero-sum game; I see it as a positive-sum game.  So you and I are agreeing on this.


MS. HARMAN:  And by the way, people always ask me if I miss Congress.  I left there four years ago to succeed Lee Hamilton at the Wilson Center, and I always say no.  I miss – I see the people that I like, which is a large number of people in both parties, but I do not miss that environment.  The one vote I missed – I regret that I couldn’t have made was the vote we finally got to, took an entire decade, on the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements, which was – they were in one – FTAs – they were in one package.  And I happened to be in the house that night at a dinner when they were passing, and that’s the one vote I missed.  I really think this is a positive-sum game.

QUESTION:  Hi, Sheng Yang from China Daily.


QUESTION:  I have two questions related to China.  The first one is that last year, Chinese official Ju Gonyo (ph) said that TPP without China is incomplete.  So I was considering what’s your take on this comment.  And first one is:  How do you view China-U.S. trade prospect in the future?

MS. HARMAN:  Okay.  Well, good.  Now I can shill for the Wilson Center.  The Wilson Center has the Kissinger Institute on China and the U.S.  Notice, China is first.  Kissinger Institute on China and the U.S.  Henry Kissinger personally is involved; it’s obviously named after him.  And we really care about figuring out a long, positive relationship with China, and we spend a lot of time doing that.  And I think, certainly, the way the Wilson Center is viewed in China is very positive, and the way China is viewed at the Wilson Center is very positive.

On TPP, I see phases.  I think the first phase is countries in Asia plus the U.S. plus others working – trading together.  But all of those countries have large or even larger trade relationships with China.  So as I see it, China should in some time period – I don’t know how long – become part of TPP also.  And while China is forming other trade regimes, my understanding is that comments from China recently are much more positive about TPP.  So I see eventually TPP including China, and I think – I personally think that would be a good thing.

QUESTION:  Connor Cislo, Asahi Shimbun.  I guess I just have a really broad question about the political dynamics of trade in the current Congress, which is – we kind of hear both from members of Congress and from outside groups, business groups, everyone says trade should be what we agree on – like some Democrats like it, Republicans like it; it’s a bipartisan issue, should be no problem.  But TPA is not coming as fast as we thought it would —

MS. HARMAN:  Right.

QUESTION:  I mean, it just seems like there’s not the agreement like everyone’s expecting.  Why do you think that’s the case?  Are you really optimistic about it?  And general thoughts.

MS. HARMAN:  Well, okay.  Let’s remember 14 years ago, when TPA passed the last time, that’s where I started.  It barely passed.  This was 2002, right.  It was after 9/11.  I’m not sure how that impacted it.  But there was never – there wasn’t rousing enthusiasm for it 10 years ago, and I don’t believe there was rousing enthusiasm for NAFTA 20 years ago.  So these things are hard.  And organized labor, or parts of it – not every labor union – are strongly against, seeing it as a zero-sum game.  And members who are responsive to organized labor have a hard time figuring out their personal politics.  It’s a risk to get some of these labor unions against you.  And it was – the votes I took were risky.  I didn’t take them in order to get labor unions against me.  I took them because I thought they were the right votes, and I think they are the right votes.

But as you remember, I said I was 1 of 25 in 2002, and there were approximately then 200 Democrats.  That’s sort of, kind of always the number.  And so I was in a small minority who did that.  I mean, 175 Democrats disagreed with me, plus lots of Republicans.  The thing barely passed.  I don’t know what the number was.  Obviously, many more Republicans had to vote for it to get to 218.  So if 25 – let’s just do the math, which is always halting for me.  193 Republicans had to vote for it if it passed by 218, and I don’t know whether that was – I just don’t know what the number was, but you can look it up.

So it was tough then.  It’s always going to be tough, as I would guess, as a vote in Congress.  But it’s the right vote.

And that’s why I suggested possibly considering – it may not work out in this climate, doubt it – a permanent TPA, because I think that that would make it easier for us to embrace the FTAs that come after this.  And TPA doesn’t have to be stuck in stone; it can be amended.  I mean, if there’s permanent TPA and somebody says, “Ooh, let’s add this,” – I don’t know what “this” is, some brilliant new idea for oversight – it can be added.  I mean, nobody – laws can be changed.  But I think that would create a climate that’s better.

And I just the other day was over at the business roundtable.  We were talking about – a Wilson business roundtable initiative on rule of law, which is something that’s really important to creating business climates that promote American investment.  And there was a group of CEOs there, bipartisan, none of whom could figure out why Congress is making this so hard.  And that means that there is obviously support in both parties for doing this, but not enough support to get this thing to be brought up soon and to be overwhelmingly bipartisan, which is, again, the way I think it should come up.

MODERATOR:  Do we have any other questions?  Yes, we do.

QUESTION:  Sure, I’ll go again.

MS. HARMAN:  Go again.  Come on.

QUESTION:  From German Press Agency.

MS. HARMAN:  Well, and the Germans have – there’s some mixed reaction to this in Germany to TTIP, which you obviously know.

QUESTION:  Yes, there is.  I mean, one of the big issues that the Europeans are bringing up involves these investor state courts that I think the junior senator from Massachusetts has went on at great length about on the op-ed page the other day.

MS. HARMAN:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  In fact, this was an invention of the German trade politics in the ’50s.  I think their very first investor state court was set up in an agreement with Pakistan, and it was to ensure German investors against lack of rule of law in Pakistan.  So I wonder if you can speak a little bit to those courts and what they mean.

MS. HARMAN:  Well, international courts of all kinds scare Americans.  They just do.  I mean, think about the International Criminal Court and how that’s playing out.  And I don’t think we understand well enough what they do and what they don’t do, and there needs to be a better education job.  I was reading – this stunned me – that USTR has held more than 1,500 briefings – yikes – on TPP.  I assume these have to do with sort of kind of in the air space of Congress, 1,500 briefings.  Well, somebody better explain this better.  I mean, she – her objections – Elizabeth Warren’s objections are getting some consideration, again, in both parties.  Both parties have a kind of center interventionist pro-trade wing, which is getting smaller because a lot of people in the center are either losing or leaving, and then they have wings on the left and the right which are less interventionist, some might say isolationist, let’s not do stuff with others wings.  And so a criticism like hers gets some traction.

So I think my answer to you is I don’t know enough about it.  I didn’t know it was invented in Germany, but I think it needs to be explained better, also to the European public.  There’s no question that some of these concerns get traction there.  And we’ll see.  But one point I didn’t  make and I said how critical it was to do this this year, especially if you’re right and TPP’s getting concluded, but next year is a presidential year – I thought I would point that out to this crowd – I’m kidding – and I don’t think serious stuff gets done, or it gets done less.  I have seen this movie because I spent so many centuries in Congress.

Let me say one last thing that I didn’t bring up.  It doesn’t relate to trade but it relates to Mark Lippert and his being knifed the other day.  I’m sure we’re all appalled.  He’s somebody many of us know.  I had his wife’s email address, so of course, I’ve emailed her and got a very thoughtful reply.  But having somebody be able to do that to an American ambassador – or a German ambassador or any ambassador – is quite terrifying.  And we’re all lucky that even with 80 stitches, he’s apparently fine.  I mean, I don’t know what fine means, but he will get through this.  He easily could have been killed, and I obviously think we need to up security in an environment like that.  I guess he was in a restaurant.  Erin and I were talking about that.  I was asking, “How could he have access to a knife like that?”  Well, maybe there was no security, but maybe if there was security it came through the kitchen or whatever.  But I mean, a really chilling story.  And on behalf of the Wilson Center, we send our sighs of relief that he survived this.

MODERATOR:  Jennifer.

QUESTION:  One more on the TPA.  So when the Republican took over the Senate and the House, trade is really seen as an area that the Republican and Democrats can cooperate.  But I think the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch, he just said that the bill is stuck and it won’t – no bill will be introduced before April.  So I wonder – do you think – what’s the sticking point right now?

And also there are a couple issues that people are talking about —

MS. HARMAN:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  — like the currency manipulation.

MS. HARMAN:  Right.

QUESTION:  Do you think these kind of issues will impact the – how the bill will – going forward?

MS. HARMAN:  Well, again, I’m not a trade – I’m not an expert on TPP or TTIP, but currency manipulation is a big argument – negative against both, especially, though, TPP.  And there’s always been this issue about China and currency manipulation, but it’s not the only country that gets slammed.

It is in this article, but I actually don’t remember about why Hatch is delaying this.  Hatch is a guy who is good at working with Democrats.  He and the late Ted Kennedy worked together on many things.  I know Hatch pretty well and that’s his history.  Wyden is a fairly new chair.  The last chair of Senate Finance was Max Baucus, with whom Hatch worked very well.  Max is now our ambassador to China.

So I don’t know what the April thing is, but I don’t think this was helped by what McConnell did, which was to announce a few weeks ago – or maybe a few minutes ago; time flies in politics – that the Senate was just going to move for the Republican-only bill.  I think that was not the wisest move.  I guess I would put it that way.

And finally, everyone said, or many pundits said, oh, with Republican control of Congress, it’ll be easy to get TPA through.  I was one who said, oh, no it won’t, because I remembered the close votes 10 years ago and 20 years ago.  I don’t think it will be easy to get it through, and I do think that the anti-trade wing of the Republican Party and the anti-trade wing of the Democratic Party are going to band together, and it just depends on how big they are and how clever they are, whether they can block this.  I think blocking it is not in America’s interest.  I want to be really clear about it.  We have security interests in trading agreements, especially with Asia right now, and we have economic interests.

MODERATOR:  Looks like I don’t see any more hands, so looks like a wonderful point to wrap up and say thank you to Ms. Harman for taking the time.

MS. HARMAN:  Thank you.  Thank you all.

MODERATOR:  And thank you all for coming in.

MS. HARMAN:  Thank you.

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