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. 

You need to know about Yemen

Shining a light on Yemen’s children.

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Today, I need to talk to you about a group of kids from a country that I don’t think you’ll know much about. Until recently, I didn’t either.

You hardly ever hear about it in the press, and our government doesn’t seem to say a huge amount about it either.

The group of kids is a pretty large group of kids – more than 10 million in fact. And they are all in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Aid agencies like Save the Children are having serious problems reaching them. 

So which country are we talking about, and how could I possibly not have known about 10 million kids being in urgent need of humanitarian aid?

I’m talking about Yemen. Who knew?

Find out more about what you can do

Global Citizen has joined forces with our friends at Save the Children – who are on the front line of this terrible crisis, delivering emergency medical assistance, water, food and much more to these children and their families.

Together, we are bringing Yemen’s children into the spotlight by encouraging everyone we know to read this powerful blog by one of Save the Children’s campaigners, Jack Wilson.

Why now?

High level talks on what to do about the crisis are few and far between – but now, the EU is meeting next Tuesday and the crisis in Yemen is on the agenda.

But as long as global citizens like me and you are in the dark about this crisis, there is little pressure on our leaders to take the concrete measures necessary to protect Yemen’s children.

Now is the moment to help change this – please read this important blog.

Thank you for doing what you do.

Amy and the Global Citizen team


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Exxon: Polluting, lying, setting climate policy


Kick Corporate Polluters Out of Climate Policy Talks


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This month, world leaders will meet at a critical summit in Paris to decide how to curb climate change and save our planet from increasingly severe environmental impacts. But the world’s top polluters – who have a long history of derailing solutions to climate change – are going to have a seat at the negotiating table.

Sign the Care2 petition to make sure the first order of business in Paris is to clear the room and kick polluters out of climate policy.

Yesterday, the President showed impressive climate leadership and vetoed the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The day before that, the New York Attorney General announced his office would be investigating ExxonMobil over the charges that it lied to the public about the role of the oil industry in causing global warming, despite the fact that the company’s own researchers have warned the company for over 40 years about the realities of human-caused climate change.

This is a huge week for those of us concerned about corporate responsibility and climate change – but we have so much more work to do to secure a sustainable future. The Paris negotiations MUST play a critical role to avert a climate crisis.

Recent research shows that even when polluters publicly admit the reality of climate change and say they support action, behind the scenes and through their trade associations they do everything they can to kill initiatives to limit the greenhouse gases that are threatening our future on this planet.

So why do we let them sit at the table when we negotiate global agreements to try to save the planet from climate chaos?

Sign the Care2 petition to the leaders of the upcoming U.N. climate talks in Paris urging them to kick the polluters out, and limit their ability to continue to jeopardize our future.

If the world can’t agree to aggressive action and move our energy economy quickly away from dirty and dangerous oil, coal and natural gas, communities across the globe will be hit with worse droughts, forest fires, floods, hurricanes and a seemingly-unending list of environmental challenges.

Avoiding these worst case impacts is far more important than protecting a business model. But if the polluters are in the room, they’ll continue to block progress.

The talks in Paris are beginning soon – Nov. 30th, so sign the Care2 petition today and urge leaders in Paris to kick the polluters out to save our climate and our communities.

Thanks for taking action!


Aaron V.

The Care2 Petitions Team


[announce_onepalestine] Human Rights Groups Call for Justice for Amer Jubran

***Please forward–Action call below***

Two more global human rights organizations have added their voices to the international campaign for justice on behalf of Amer Jubran.

On November 3, 2015 Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released a joint statement focusing on the issue of Jordanian authorities torturing Amer and his co-defendants to obtain a false conviction:

“Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are calling on the Jordanian government to ensure a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into allegations that [Amer Jubran] made the ‘confession’ that contributed to his conviction under torture and other ill-treatment.” ( )

The statement also reiterates long-standing concerns about the lack of independence of Jordan’s State Security Court and its use as an instrument of repression against dissidents.

The Alkarama Foundation issued a public statement in October condemning the gross violations of human rights in Amer’s arrest, detention and trial, and promising to raise the allegations of torture before the UN Committee Against Torture in its upcoming review of Jordan, set to begin on November 9. ( )

Amer’s case is still on appeal before Jordan’s Court of Cassation. Please take a moment to e-mail the Prime Minister urging him to ensure justice on Amer’s behalf, and calling attention to the growing list of international organizations who share our concerns about the human rights violations in his case.

Please e-mail Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour:

Please cc’ the following:

Minister of Justice, Bassam Talhouni: .

Minister of Interior, Salamah Hammad:

(You can also send us a copy:


Sample letter:

Dear Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour,

I am writing to you about the case of Amer Jubran, a Jordanian citizen sentenced to ten years in prison by the State Security Court on July 29, 2015. His case is now before Jordan’s Court of Cassation.

Global human rights organizations have expressed grave concerns about the violations of fundamental human rights in Mr. Jubran’s arrest, detention and trial.

As you may be aware, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released a joint statement on November 3, calling upon your government to conduct an immediate investigation into allegations of torture in Mr. Jubran’s case, and condemning the lack of judicial independence and rights to fair trial in cases brought before the State Security Court.

On October 5, 2015, the Alkarama Foundation issued a public statement condemning Jubran’s “unfair trial during which confessions extracted under torture were admitted as evidence.”

Please act to ensure that Mr. Jubran’s appeal receives full and independent review. The unjust sentence must be reversed and the officers responsible for torturing Mr. Jubran and his co-defendants must be brought to justice.



Oh The Places We’ll Go… Or Want To Go

I’d love to travel the world. Really, I’ll go almost anywhere if money weren’t an issue. Alas money is an issue, but a woman can dream.

On with the list:



Canal. Amsterdam. Netherland
Canal. Amsterdam. Netherland


Study Spanish in Chile.jpg www.oneworld365.org1000 × 562Search by image Study Spanish in Chile
Study Spanish in Chile.jpg
http://www.oneworld365.org1000 × 562Search by image
Study Spanish in Chile


All the streets around old-town Cartagena look like this. The colors vary, but they are often strong, and lots of nice balconies. HDR of 3 handheld shots. This time Photomatix was not able to crisply align the images, but I insisted in using it because it is the only shot Ihave of this nice blue building. Cranked up the smart sharpen to make up the fuzziness, used Freaky Detail again (, which is similar to Nik Tonal Contrast. For scenes with walls like these I prefer freaky detail because Tonal Contrast enhances the roughness of the walls too much. I masked the sky and street when applying freaky detail. Some dodging on the shadowed walls, and then Nik Skylight filter to give it a more sunny look.
All the streets around old-town Cartagena look like this. The colors vary, but they are often strong, and lots of nice balconies.
HDR of 3 handheld shots. This time Photomatix was not able to crisply align the images, but I insisted in using it because it is the only shot Ihave of this nice blue building. Cranked up the smart sharpen to make up the fuzziness, used Freaky Detail again (, which is similar to Nik Tonal Contrast. For scenes with walls like these I prefer freaky detail because Tonal Contrast enhances the roughness of the walls too much. I masked the sky and street when applying freaky detail. Some dodging on the shadowed walls, and then Nik Skylight filter to give it a more sunny look.
Aerial view of Embalse del Penol reservoir, an artificial lake built in the 1970s - El Penon, Antioquia
Aerial view of Embalse del Penol reservoir, an artificial lake built in the 1970s – El Penon, Antioquia

Puerto Rico

Uncle Sam's Caribbean: Puerto Rico - Johnny Jet www.johnnyjet.com7336 × 5117Search by image Puerto Rico's El Morro Fort
Uncle Sam’s Caribbean: Puerto Rico – Johnny Jet
http://www.johnnyjet.com7336 × 5117Search by image
Puerto Rico’s El Morro Fort
Puerto Rico Destination Guide | www.viator.com760 × 275Search by image
Puerto Rico Destination Guide |
http://www.viator.com760 × 275Search by image
Puerto Rico Car Rental: Cheap deals with Sixt rent a car www.sixt.com424 × 283Search by image Puerto Rico Country
Puerto Rico Car Rental: Cheap deals with Sixt rent a car
http://www.sixt.com424 × 283Search by image
Puerto Rico Country



South Africa

Looking towards Medina and Point E areas of Dakar. Image was captured by a camera suspended by a kite line. Kite Aerial Photography (KAP)
Looking towards Medina and Point E areas of Dakar.
Image was captured by a camera suspended by a kite line. Kite Aerial Photography (KAP)




New Zealand

There are actually many many more places I want to go, but really the list can go on and on. Here’s some wishful thinking that I’ll even get to see one of the places on my list.

Statement by the President on the Departure of Special Presidential Envoy John Allen and Appointment of Brett McGurk





Office of the Press Secretary


October 23, 2015


Statement by the President on the Departure of Special Presidential Envoy John Allen and Appointment of Brett McGurk


I offer my profound gratitude to General John Allen as he prepares to depart his role of Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL next month. Thirteen months ago, I asked General Allen once again to postpone his well-earned retirement from government service, including nearly 38 years in the Marines, where he served our country in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond. I gave him an enormously complex assignment: to build from conception a robust international coalition that would undertake a wide range of political, diplomatic, military, economic and other efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.


General Allen has met that challenge with tremendous ability and courage. Thanks in large part to General Allen’s tireless work, today the United States is leading a 65-member global coalition that is rolling back ISIL’s territorial gains in Iraq and Syria, advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces, constricting ISIL’s financing, interdicting the flow of foreign fighters, helping stabilize liberated communities, and countering ISIL’s heinous message. American leadership of this coalition is making the world a safer place, and we have been fortunate to have a great patriot like John Allen leading our efforts. I have very much relied on his counsel and leadership and am deeply grateful that he once again answered his nation’s call to serve.


As I thank General Allen for his service, I am pleased to welcome his Deputy, Brett McGurk, as my new Special Presidential Envoy for the Counter ISIL campaign. Brett has been with General Allen at every key moment in this campaign and has long been one of my most trusted advisers on Iraq. Brett has my full support as he continues broadening and deepening our Coalition efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. I have also asked him to work closely with my national security team to strengthen our partnership with Iraq and work intensively with regional partners to bring an end to the civil war in Syria, which continues to fuel ISIL and other extremist groups.




FACT SHEET: White House Announces Commitments to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge


Office of the Press Secretary


October 19, 2015


FACT SHEET: White House Announces Commitments to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge


Today, the White House will announce new commitments from companies from across the American economy who are joining the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. With this announcement, 81 companies will have signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge to demonstrate their support for action on climate change and the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.  These 81 companies have operations in all 50 states, employ over 9 million people, represent more than $3 trillion in annual revenue, and have a combined market capitalization of over $5 trillion.


By signing the American Business Act on Climate pledge, these companies are:


·         Voicing support for a strong Paris outcome. The pledge recognizes those countries that have already put forward climate targets, and voices support for a strong outcome in the Paris climate negotiations.


·         Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to climate action. As part of this initiative, each company is announcing significant pledges to reduce their emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy, and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses and tackle climate change.


These pledges include ambitious, company-specific goals such as:


o   Reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent,

o   Reducing water usage by as much as 80 percent,

o   Achieving zero waste-to-landfill,

o   Purchasing 100 percent renewable energy, and

o   Pursuing zero net deforestation in supply chains.


·         Setting an example for their peers. Today’s announcements builds on the launch of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge in July. This fall, the Obama Administration will release a third round of pledges, with a goal of mobilizing many more companies to join the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.


The impacts of climate change are already being felt worldwide. Nineteen of the 20 hottest years on record occurred in the past two decades. Countries and communities around the world are already being affected by deeper, more persistent droughts, pounded by more severe weather, inundated by bigger storm surges, and imperiled by more frequent and dangerous wildfires. Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries, all of which imperil public health, particularly for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color. No corner of the planet and no sector of the global economy will remain unaffected by climate change in the years ahead.


Climate change is a global challenge that demands a global response, and President Obama is committed to leading the fight. The President’s Climate Action Plan, when fully implemented, will cut nearly 6 billion tons of carbon pollution through 2030, an amount equivalent to taking all the cars in the United States off the road for more than 4 years. The Clean Power Plan, the most significant domestic step any President has ever taken to combat climate change, will reduce emissions from the energy sector by 32% by 2030. And while the United States is leading on the international stage and the federal government is doing its part to combat climate change, hundreds of private companies, local governments, and foundations have stepped up to increase energy efficiency, boost low-carbon investing, and make solar energy more accessible to low-income Americans.


The measures taken by the public and private sectors enabled President Obama to set an ambitious but achievable goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 26-28% by 2025 last November. And in the eleven months since, we’ve seen unprecedented global momentum in the fight against climate change.


To date, 150 countries representing more than 85% of global carbon emissions have reported post-2020 climate policies to the United Nations. This includes the major economies like the U.S., China, the European Union and India and it includes a large number of smaller economies, developing nations, island states and tropical countries – some of whom are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.


But these submissions are only the beginning of achieving a successful outcome in Paris this December that puts in place a transparent global framework for increasing ambition over time and continuing to drive down emissions over the course of this century. As the world looks toward Paris, President Obama is committed to building on this momentum, with American leadership at all levels – the federal government, state and local governments and the private sector.


Clean Energy Investment


Additionally, leading up to the White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015, an independent consortium of long-term investors (“LTIs”), including sovereign development funds, pension funds, endowments, family offices, and foundations, committed to building a new investment intermediary that will identify, screen, and assess high-potential companies and projects for commercial investment that could also produce impactful and profitable solutions to climate change.


Today, this consortium will announce its founding CEO, interim board of directors, sponsors, and confirms the intention of the LTIs to deploy at least $1.2 billion of investment capital through an ‘aligned intermediary’, which they anticipate will be formally launched and branded in mid-2016.


The initial group of LTIs announcing financial commitments to work with the ‘aligned intermediary’ includes:


       $500 million from University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer;

       $350 million from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund;

       $200 million from the Alaska Permanent Fund;

       $100 million from TIAA-CREF; and

       $10 million from Tamarisc.


The effort launches with research support from the Hewlett Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, and Planet Heritage Foundation, and a commitment of further operational support, pending final approval, from the MacArthur Foundation.


As President Obama said at the U.N. Climate Summit last September, “There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.” The American Business Act on Climate Pledge shows that the U.S. private sector, with its history of innovation and ingenuity, is committed to stepping up and doing its part in taking on this global challenge.  


*           *           *




We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.


We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment. 


The following companies have joined the pledge and their detailed commitments can be viewed at:






















































































REMARKS: Secretary of State John Kerry At Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies




Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release


October 15, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry At Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies

October 15, 2015

Bloomington, Indiana

SECRETARY KERRY:  Thank you very much.  I accept the nomination.  (Laughter.)  You have twice welcomed me by standing up, and I am deeply appreciative.  I will caution you all to remind you that Winston Churchill once said that the only reason people give a standing ovation is they desperately need an excuse to shift their underwear.  (Laughter.)  I know you had a much more noble concept in mind.  (Laughter.)

President McRobbie, distinguished members of the board of trustees, and distinguished senior faculty and ladies and gentlemen, thank you, Mr. President, for your very kind words.  Thank you for hosting us today.  Thank you all for coming.  And I am particularly appreciative of President McRobbie’s outstanding leadership of this great institution. 

Hello to all of you.  Thank you so much for coming.  Thank you, those of you up in the nosebleed section sitting up there.  I feel that with the size of this group I should have brought my guitar.  (Laughter.)  I’m doing the wrong thing here.  But I appreciate everybody taking time on a very, very busy Thursday.  Life today is always busy, so I’m always appreciative when people take a moment to think about our country, think about the world and the direction we’re going.

For me it is very, very special to get out of Washington and to come here to IU and visit truly one of the finest public universities in America.  Your campus is beautiful.  I landed amidst all the corn of Monroe County Airport.  (Laughter.)  There was a period in my life where I was measuring my life by the height of the corn.  I learned that art.  Your faculty here is absolutely first-rate; your students brilliant – or so they tell me – (laughter); and you are above all a global university with academic partnerships on every continent; and you live in what may well be the number one sports state in our country – with the notable exception of Massachusetts.  (Laughter.)  See, I am a risk-taker.  (Laughter.)

I love the history of your school; I really do.  And IU is tops at one activity that I have followed and participated in all of my life, and that is cycling, which I love and do pretty well at except when I fall and break my leg, which I don’t recommend.  (Laughter.)  I understand that the Little 500 is the marquee event of what you call “The World’s Greatest College Weekend.”  (Cheers.)  And if I remember correctly – which is very doubtful – I think I enjoyed my share of those kinds of weekends a long time ago.  (Laughter.)

But as you know, when you need it, your memory can play tricks on you.  For example, I have managed to completely forget that when running for president in 2004 I was crushed in Indiana.  (Laughter.)  I don’t even think Larry Bird voted for me.  (Laughter.)  But it’s a good thing that I am resilient, and if I hadn’t lost – by the way, did you notice the segue in the president’s introduction?  He said, “And he was the nominee for president in 2004, and then he” – he didn’t say lost, he just said – (inaudible).  Very gentle, very gentle – I appreciate it.  (Laughter.)  I won’t go into it.  (Laughter.)  But if I hadn’t lost, folks, I wouldn’t be Secretary of State and I wouldn’t be taking on what I believe is one of the greatest jobs in the world.

Speaking of good things, I want to congratulate everybody here who played a part in conceiving of and developing your new School of Global and International Studies.  It’s phenomenal.  I just learned there are 70 different languages being taught – 70 different languages being taught, and you have an extraordinary number of Chinese and other students here on campus, truly international.  It underscores why this conversation today is so important, because you can’t function in today’s world without understanding the connection.  I have said many times, from the day I was nominated, that foreign policy is economic policy and economic policy is foreign policy.  And today it’s more integrated and the world is more integrated than ever before – to some people’s chagrin, as we will discuss a little bit today.

But the opening of this school is really in keeping with this university’s very proud tradition, which Dr. McRobbie noted, of helping to explain the world to America and America to the world.  And yes, as he said, we do have to understand each other.  And to do that,dr. mcrobbie you have to listen – not just talk and particularly not shout.

You are very, very lucky, also – two people who have been already introduced twice, but I want to say two word – a word or two about two foreign policy pathfinders who are involved in this endeavor.  Senator Richard Lugar and I served on the Foreign Relations Committee together.  He was my chairman, and I had the pleasure of working with him.  And Representative Lee Hamilton, who I also worked with – together, they were among the two most trusted figures in Washington, D.C., which I know today may sound, to some, like faint praise.  (Laughter.)  But it is not.  They were also and they remain deeply respected throughout and beyond our country for their wisdom, their patriotism, and their many legislative accomplishments.  And their careers are exactly what true public service is all about.   And I thank them – and I know you join me in thanking them – for their extraordinary example of a lifetime.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

And as for Lee Feinstein, I will only say that you’re all going to find out what those of us who know your new dean learned a long time ago:  He is a very smart guy.  He is a very good guy.  And he is exactly the right person to blaze a path for an institution such as your new School for Global and International Studies.  I congratulate him and I commend all those students who are here for discovering what I hope your professors will agree is a legitimate excuse to skip a class.  (Laughter.)

The truth is, I really couldn’t personally think of a more appropriate place to visit than here.  After all, it is the heart of America.  You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care about international affairs.  And I expect many of you are already thinking about what your own future roles might be in shaping a better world.

We are living in extraordinarily complicated times.  I am, as many of us on the podium here I suspect are children of the Cold War, but also children of a victory in that Cold War and of an enormous transition.  And we are witnessing forces that for years were tampened down by dictators and by the Cold War itself.  And all of those forces have now been released into a clash with modernity – also tinges of failed governance and radical religious extremism mixed in just to stir the pot even more. 

And we all know now that there are bad non-state actors.  Almost all the violence as we look back at the 21st – of the 20th century – not all, but almost all – was state on state, when I might comment – and it’s not meant to suggest that any loss of life is acceptable – but far more lives were lost and lost on a regular basis in the course of the 20th century than we are witnessing in terms of trends, even with the violence we see, in the 21st century.

In recent days, we have, however, seen an eruption of tragic, outrageous, and unjustified attacks on innocent civilians who were simply trying to go about their daily business in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem.  And it is important that we all remain deeply concerned about this recent violence.  We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, and there is absolutely no justification for these reprehensible attacks.  And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend its existence.

It is critically important, though, that calm be restored as soon as possible.  And we, the Administration, will continue to stress the importance politically and privately of preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations, or actions that could lead to violence.  I expect to be traveling to the region in the coming days, and we will remain very closely engaged in order to support efforts to stabilize the situation.

We are also committed to the people of Afghanistan as they strive to build a more stable, secure, and prosperous country. 

And just a few minutes ago, while you were sitting here waiting for me to come out, President Obama went out publicly to announce that the United States will retain 5,500 troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2016.  This decision is the result of an extended process of review designed to ensure that our fundamental interests in that country and in the region are protected.  Our continued military presence there is essential to give the new government of national unity the support that it needs to implement reforms and defend its population against violent extremists who seek to impose their will.  And it is important to us as Americans who understand what happens when you don’t have governed spaces anywhere and the vacuum is filled by extremists.

I have spent many hours with President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, and I know that they are both patriots, determined to hold their country together and to consolidate the gains that have been made in such areas as education for girls.  When we went in 2001, there were about a million kids in school, none of them girls.  Today, there are about eight million and almost half of them are young women, girls, going to school.  (Applause.)  There’s been an extraordinary growth in the delivery of health care and representative governance.  And President Obama’s announcement today will help to protect our country as well as to help Afghanistan on this road to recovery. 

But the challenges posed by the attacks in Israel and the West Bank and by the situation in Afghanistan, of course, are not the only signs of turbulence on the global scene. 

Because of new technologies, we may find partners and competitors, allies and adversaries, literally anywhere on Earth.  Each day, there are more people in the world putting additional pressure on limited natural resources, on the challenges of governance itself.  Big chunks of the Middle East and Africa are torn by violence, creating a record flow of refugees.  The age-old problems of nationalist ambitions and religious extremism are testing the resilience of the rule of law.  And the devil’s marriage of technology and terror prompts us to fear that the 13th century battles will soon be fought with 21st century weapons.

Now, to some, all of this may lead to the temptation that in my younger days we called “tuning out.”  After all, why worry about what seems beyond your control? 

So let me blunt.  The complications of this era are neither reason nor excuse to duck our common responsibilities.  On the contrary, it is precisely because of the complexity of this world that we are required to tackle the hardest challenges and live up to the magnificent legacy that we inherited.  If that doesn’t sound easy, my friends, it’s because it isn’t. 

In fact, it will require from us the same qualities of optimism and ambition that transformed the United States from a wilderness into the most remarkable democratic society on the face of the planet.  Because in the midst of uncertainty, I have come to know one constant:  We are a nation of doers, conceived in a revolution against the world’s then-leading empire.  We have survived the burning of our capital, the disgrace of slavery, a devastating civil war, a Great Depression, two global conflicts, prolonged military confrontations in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf, a superpower rivalry, four presidential assassinations, and terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, Boston, and a lot more. 

And yes, we are not perfect.  No one is.  But we are resilient and we are as strong, I think, as we have ever been.

And as we look ahead, we seek not simply to address the immediate crisis of the day.  Our strategy is to lay the groundwork for solutions that will strengthen the community of nations for decades to come.  To succeed in that, we must mobilize the help and the support of allies and friends across the globe because we can’t do it alone.  No nation can.  We have to make the use of – the best use of every single foreign policy tool, from multilateral institutions to the selective and sometimes necessary use of force.  We have to take into account the transformative impact of new technology, a world in which people are connected 24/7 every day.  More people in poor countries still have smartphones than they do have access to running water or electricity.  We need to uphold democratic principles and strengthen the rule of law.  And we have to always be willing to invest in American leadership not because it feels good, but because it makes a difference – sometimes all the difference.

And I believe that we can do all of this – and so does President Obama – with many reasons for great confidence in our capacity and in the road ahead.  Now, there is a perception among some – and some argue it, even some running for president – that we should pull back, turn inwards, don’t have to worry about the rest of this.  Some suggest that the world is increasingly chaotic and even falling into disorder.  Well, I disagree.  Despite the many challenges that we face, as I travel the world and as I talk to foreign ministers, prime ministers, presidents, people all across this planet, I don’t sense an unraveling of the global fabric; I see a world that in critical areas is actually increasingly coming together.  

Now, let me give you four quick examples that underscore this:  A trade agreement that represents 40 percent of the global economy; a potential climate accord that will require contributions from every nation; a nuclear agreement involving Iran, which the president mentioned, and six very different global powers that came together to help achieve it; and a counterterrorism coalition of more than 65 members, nations all, that carries with it the hopes of good and decent people everywhere.

Each of these initiatives is distinct in purpose, but each requires both American leadership and the strong support of partners and friends.  Each is a product of principle and pragmatism, embodying both what we should do and what we can do.  And each will have an impact that extends beyond the headlines of the day.

First, the arena of international economics and trade.  Earlier this month, our negotiators finished work on one of the most significant trade agreements in history – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – or TPP, as it’s referred to.  This is a big deal, literally, encompassing countries all around the Pacific Rim.  And why should you care?  Why does it matter to Indiana and every other state in the country?  Well, Indiana is not exactly a Pacific state.  But focus on the fact that Indiana’s three leading trade partners are Canada, Mexico, and Japan, and all of them are part of TPP. 

So Indiana’s exports, which are already at 35 billion, will likely increase under this agreement.  And it isn’t just big corporations that are going to benefit.  More than 4,600 Indiana companies export to TPP countries and some 80 percent of those firms are small or medium-sized firms.  In fact, Indiana exports support more than 187,000 jobs across our country.

Now, we should remember that 19 out of 20 of the world’s consumers live beyond the borders of the United States of America.  You’re not going to grow if you just sell to yourself.  You can’t just sell to yourself.  And in a marketplace, a free market – which we believe in – that’s obviously antithetical to everything we believe in.  If we are going to keep building our prosperity – and we must – we have to keep opening and expanding overseas markets.  That’s pretty simple math.

So the TPP is definitively a plus economically.  But it’s more than just another trade agreement.  It is a genuine breakthrough in bringing disparate nations together to raise the international standards of labor and environmental norms.

It is a struggle – this is a struggle, really, that goes back to the dawn of the Industrial Age, when union organizers and muckrakers argued that profits not be wrung from the sweat of exploited and underage workers.  And the reformers said that the global trade ought to be something more than a competition to see which country could pay its workers the least and trash the environment the most.  And they said we ought to aim higher than that.  Well, guess what?  That’s exactly what we did. 

Let me be clear:  The TPP is not your parents’ or your grandparents’ trade agreement.  This is something new.  Consider that every participant in the TPP has to comply with core environmental and labor standards.  Every member has to refrain from using underage workers and unsafe workplaces.  Every one has to ensure that state-owned companies compete fairly with those that are privately owned.  Every one has to fight trade-related bribery and corruption.  Every one has to respect intellectual property.  And every one has to keep the promises that they make, because those promises are clearly enforceable within this agreement. 

Now, I know there are some who hear all of this and say they still don’t want any part of it.  They may still yearn for the good old days when many if not most people worked in one job in one town for their entire careers.  I sympathize.  I too have affection for the past because that’s where I grew up.  But it’s not where I live now, and it’s not where any of us are headed.

Last week I saw a letter in The New York Times written by a gentleman right here at Bloomington.  And he wrote that Congress should both reject the TPP, and I quote, “rethink globalization.”  (Laughter.)  Rethink globalization?  Now, just how are you going to do that?  (Laughter.)  The most powerful country or person on the planet can’t stop globalization.  Globalization is driven not only by technology, but it is driven also by the aspirations of people around the world for an opportunity for a better life.  The truth is that globalization doesn’t come with a reverse gear or an emergency brake.  A thousand different factors drive the jobs market and the process of adapting to it can be very painful.  But it just doesn’t do any good to deny reality.

Now, what does make sense, my friends – and it does – is to mitigate globalization’s downside.  It is to tame the worst instincts of unbridled capitalism and to have the kind of standards and regulations mutually arrived at that protect people against abuse and exploitation.  It is also to make sure that we give every young person the chance to go to college by making an all-out commitment to lifelong learning, by providing support for entrepreneurs, by investing in infrastructure, and by backing institutions like the Ex-Im Bank that help American firms to compete more effectively all around the globe.

That is why the Obama Administration is leading in each and every one of those areas I just listed.  And despite concerns about globalization, polls show that most Americans view foreign trade as an opportunity, not a threat.  And here’s the reason:  You’ve all seen those duty-free stores at the airports, right?  Well, America is pretty much one big duty-free shop.  Seventy percent of U.S. imports cross our borders tariff free.  But that’s not the case with all of our trading partners.  In fact, America’s exporters face a wide range of high tariffs in many TPP countries. 

And that’s why we have so much to gain from a deal that will eliminate over 18,000 foreign taxes on Made in America products – a deal that will help our manufacturers, our farmers, and small businesspeople to compete and win in fast-growing markets all around the globe. 

And what is more, the TPP matters for reasons far beyond trade.  The Asia Pacific includes three of the globe’s four most populous countries and its three largest economies.  Going forward, that region is going to have a huge say in shaping international rules of the road on the internet, financial regulation, maritime security, the environment – many other areas of direct concern to the United States of America, to each and every one of you.

And remember that in our era economic and security issues overlap, as I mentioned.  You can’t lead one and lag on the other.  By voting for this trade agreement, Congress can reinforce the message that the United States is and will remain a leading force for prosperity and security throughout the Asia Pacific.  And that will be welcome news for our allies and friends; a huge boost for stability in a region; an important step, vital to our own wellbeing; and really good news for companies and workers here in America’s Midwest.

Now a second critical area where the world is coming together is actually closely related to the first, and that is the challenge of the global environment – specifically climate change.  And here, believe me, I have heard the deniers and the naysayers for years; we all have.  For a long time, we’ve been listening to their wild theories and their lame excuses:  “Well, we’re not scientists.  So how can we have an opinion about climate change?”  I’ve heard that from United States – sitting United States senators. 

Well, here you are learning and practicing critical thinking in a university.  Are you telling me that the fact that you’re not a scientist means you can’t say that the Earth spins and that clean air is better than dirty air?  (Applause.)  You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that 14 of the 15 warmest years ever recorded have taken place in this century, which is only 15 years old.  To question the science is an excuse, and there is no time left for excuses. 

The scientific debate may have had legitimacy once upon a time, but it is over.  And let me tell you, there is nothing uniquely liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, American or foreign about wanting to preserve the health of our planet.  And all you have to do is read the scriptures to understand that.  We are all affected because we all share the same fragile home. 

When I first began working on this issue in the 1980s – when I was lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, we were working on acid rain, but later in the ’90s in the Senate we had trouble getting people to buy in – the big industrial nations and the big developing ones who were at odds about who had a responsibility to do what and when and how soon.  And a lot of people believed that curbing greenhouse gas emissions was not going to bring – was – it was not going to be good for the economy; it was going to bring their economies to a screeching halt.  And finally, you had a lot of people believing simply what they wanted to believe, that climate change was something for future generations to worry about, not their own.  But now, because of the mounting science and the realities we are experiencing on the ground, people realize none of those objections ever really added up and we have, I think, moved beyond them.

If you’re 29 years old today, the facts are pretty undeniable.  Because if you’re 29, you have never lived with a month – not one month — that was cooler than the average of any month in the last century.  Every year announced is the hottest year.  We keep beating the hottest year.  And this July was the hottest month in recorded history.

And while we can’t trace every particular storm or drought to climate change, there is no denying the record number of extreme weather events that we are already witnessing.  In southeast Brazil, they’re suffering through the worst drought in 80 years.  In California, the worst drought in a century – plus wildfires.  In Malawi, record floods.  In the Arctic, whole villages are in danger.  We were just up there with the President recently, pointing out what is happening with permafrost thawing and the release of methane and the other challenges.  We’re seeing villages in danger of sea level rise.  In the South Pacific, entire island nations are at risk.  Changes in air and water temperatures are affecting the migration patterns of birds, butterflies, and fish.  And we are also starting to see desertification and storms affect the migration patterns of people, and we will witness climate refugees – and already are – in our lifetimes.

And by the way, we’re spending billions – I think we spent more than $100 billion in the last few years just to deal with the damages coming from all of this rather than to invest in new energy, alternative energy, and ways of mitigating and avoiding the damage in the first place.

The good news is that while all of this was happening, something else has been taking place.  First, more people are realizing that over-dependence on carbon-based fuels is a loser environmentally and economically.  Sure, there are still those who claim you can’t afford to transform our energy mix, but the reality is we can’t afford not to. 

We are on the cusp of whole new industries, whole new applications in wind and solar, energy-efficient vehicles, conservation, bio-fuels.  Scientific cooperation and technology-sharing agreements in those fields have become a major part of our diplomacy.  It’s even a big issue in the Middle East, where countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are – Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who built their countries on oil, are making major investments in a regional assets other than petroleum.  It’s called sunshine.  So let’s be clear: Curbing climate change is not only an environmental imperative; it is a chance to tap wellsprings of innovation that will enable us go green and put something green in our wallets at the same time.  To do good and to do well at the same time is not a bad political equation.

To be honest, when I became Secretary of State, I was told that climate change was not likely to be a promising area for diplomacy.  And China was a big part of the reason, because we had been completely opposed to each other at the last global meeting on climate in Copenhagen, and China was leading the charge of 77 nations to say your responsibility, not ours.  China and the United States are now the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, just shy of 50 percent of all the gases.  But earlier efforts at cooperation were nonstarters.

So shortly after I was sworn in in that February date that the president mentioned, I think I went to China in late March, early April.  And I had called them two weeks earlier, called my counterpart and said, “Look, here’s what we need to do.  We need to come together.  We’ve got to find a way to work on this.  And when I come, I have a plan.  We’re going to lay it down, and let’s see if we can do this.”  I proposed the start of regular, formal discussions with China that could break down the barriers and begin to build up our capacity to work together, and laid out every aspect of the issue in a systematic way. 

Last fall, I visited – I invited the Chinese state councilor to my hometown of Boston to talk about what more our nations could do together in order to tackle the problem.  And then in January, after we’d laid the groundwork, President Obama went to Beijing for further talks.  The result was a spectacle that few expected: The American and Chinese presidents standing side-by-side in the Great Hall in Beijing to announce their nations’ respective – their agreement to announce their nations’ respective greenhouse gas emissions targets for the years to come. 

The substance mattered.  It was a dramatic moment of transformation, where China and the United States joined together, and it took away the excuse from less-developed countries.  And the symbolic breakthrough of this coordination was bigger than many of us maybe even anticipated.  Since then, every major economy in the world and 150 nations have come forward with their own set of targets or, in the case of India, unveiled a plan to make massive new investments in alternative energy. 

In just two months, representatives from around the world will gather in Paris to approve what I hope will be by far the most ambitious agreement on global climate ever reached.  And hopefully, it will send a signal to the marketplace. 

Now, there are still many issues to be resolved, but the momentum is building.  And skeptics argue that even a strong agreement is likely to fall short of what is needed.  The answer is yes, it is going to fall short of what is needed.  This is going to prove to be the best that we can achieve at this moment, but it’s going to elicit extraordinary buy-in at the grassroots level around the world. 

Mayors – we just had an event in Washington with former mayor Mike Bloomberg and bringing mayors from around the world together to show what can happen at grassroots levels to move where federal governments are unwilling to move.  And if what we agree to in Paris is considered the least that we must do instead of the most that we can do – in other words, if we treat it like a floor and not a ceiling – then we can continue right on doing more as the technology begins to lower the prices and as businesses begin to make investments that are different in how they power their business, in how people run their communities, because they see that is the future.

In recent months, we have made big inroads in mobilizing urban and provincial governments worldwide to set their own targets.  And the private sector and civil society are treating this challenge as one that we have to meet.  I think anything less would be a felony against the future.  There is a generational responsibility here. 

And the United States leadership has been fundamental and essential in bringing together seven nations to conclude this historic agreement the president mentioned with Iran to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Now that agreement was reached in July, and it will go into effect in three days.  Let me explain briefly why that is so important. 

Two years ago, when our formal negotiations began after we were working on the margins to see if there was a way to come together and have a serious discussion, Iran had a large and rapidly growing stockpile of enriched uranium, and they were building a heavy water plutonium reactor that was capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.  They had, under a previous administration, refused – there was an inability to be able to come together in a discussion at a time when Iran had only 164centrifuges.  When we began our discussions two years ago, they had 19,000 centrifuges.  Experts told us that Iran could, if it chose to, obtain enough fissile material for a bomb in as little as two months. 

But under the agreement that we reached in July, every single one of Iran’s potential pathways to a bomb is blocked – specifically its uranium pathways, its plutonium pathway, and its covert pathway.  Due to massive cuts in its uranium stockpile – which they agreed to – and reductions in their enrichment capacity – which they agreed to – Iran’s so-called breakout time is stretched out from two months to twelve months or more for at least a decade or more. 

And because of the unprecedented monitoring and verification requirements that are part of the agreement, we will know if they try to cheat.  And after that 10-year period, there’s still a 15-year requirement, there’s a 20-year requirement, there’s a 25-year requirement, and there’s a lifetime requirement.  And if at any time, during which we are always allowed inspections and verification, if they were to try to cheat, we will know.  Our intelligence community and Energy Department are convinced we will know.  And we will be able to re-impose sanctions, or if necessary, stop them by other means. 

Now, as a result, Iran has every reason to live up to its obligations – just as it has, by the way, throughout the negotiating process, because we actually struck an interim agreement to begin with that tested their bona fides and required them to roll back their program, and they’ve already done that over a two-year period.  So make no mistake – the most fundamental provisions of this agreement, including the IAEA inspections and protocols, have no expiration date whatsoever.  They are forever.  That means that Iran will be prevented and prohibited from pursuing a nuclear weapon forever. 

Now, this agreement came together as a result – (applause).  This agreement came together as a result of tough diplomacy that extended over two presidencies, and we began with sanctions but sanctions were a means, not an end.  Only by direct negotiations with support from a broad array of partners – including Russia and China, by the way – were we able to convince Iran’s top officials to accept the severe limits on their nuclear program.  And we are moving now to the implementation stage, and it is essential that we will maintain our vigilance, our unity of approach, and our common purpose.  Now, the Middle East remains a deeply troubled place, but every problem in the region would be made much worse if countries were to move towards nuclear weapons.  The Iran agreement is the best way to ensure that this possibility is foreclosed now and for all time.  And every nation in the region – including our key allies – is safer because of this agreement.

Now, there’s a fourth, final challenge I just want to mention that may well be the defining challenge of our generation, and that is the fight against international terrorist organizations.  Country after country, from the Maghreb in Northern Africa through the Middle East to South Central Asia and into Asia, have populations with millions of kids, millions of young people.  In many cases, these countries are 65 percent if not 60 percent under the age of 35, 30; 50 percent under the age of 21; 40 percent under the age of 18.  And if these kids do not get a chance at education and they have no opportunity because of corruption and bad governance and their states are failing, we will feel it.  Already we know this from ISIS and al-Qaida and other entities. 

So the United States has, under President Obama’s leadership, taken the lead in building more than a 65-member coalition to take on ISIL.  And we are working every multilateral fora to engage states, civic organizations, NGOs, faith-based groups, in the fight against violent extremism.  As I speak, not a single country sponsors or endorses the kind of vicious and indiscriminate violence perpetrated by such groups as Daesh/ISIL in the Middle East, or al-Shabaab in East Africa, or Boko Haram in West Africa.  And the reason is that opposition to international terrorists and repugnance at their actions has become a powerful unifying force.  And that is as it should be, because these terrorists are so depraved they give new meaning to the word “evil.”  Their crimes go way beyond theft and destruction.  They are smuggling and extorters.  They destroy ancient cultural treasures.  They attack schools, and by the way, by attacking those ancient treasures, attack all of history and all of culture and all of our values.  They butcher teachers.  They kill people because of who they are, what they believe.  A Jordanian pilot burned alive, beheading innocent journalists, abducting boys to turn them into killers, literally auctioning off terrified girls in modern-day slave markets complete with notarized sales contracts, and using the term “marriage” to describe what is actually systematic rape – and rape used not just as an instrument of war, but as a way of life.

These terrorists would like the world to believe that all of this is being done in response to God’s will.  Well, to use a diplomatic term of art, that is complete and utter garbage.  The breakdown of regional order coupled with Daesh’s ability to manipulate social media have obviously enabled it to recruit and occupy some territory.  And what they appeal to are these minds that are left out there, people who don’t feel they have an alternative opportunity. 

Now, none of that means they’re going to succeed in the long run automatically.  Leaders of Daesh claim to be creating a pure Islamic state.  But the reality is that their values are not Islamic, their state is a fiction, and they have nothing real to offer anyone except destruction and death and “live my way exactly as I tell you to.”  I believe Daesh is doomed to fail.  But it has the ability to inflict immense suffering between now and when that failure is fully realized.

So we must therefore hasten its decline, and we are.  The 65-member U.S.-led global coalition to counter Daesh has only been in place for a year.  People forget that.  Fourteen months ago, it didn’t even exist.  But we’ve already accomplished a lot.  Together with our local partners, the coalition and the United States have launched thousands of airstrikes, forced Daesh to change how it conducts military operations, forced them underground, impeded its command and control, rescued a religious minority on Sinjar Mountain, driven the terrorists from the critical border town of Kobani, liberated the city of Tikrit where we saw 100,000 Sunni be able to return to their home in Tikrit which was occupied by ISIL previously.  We’ve protected Baghdad, secured the Turkish-Syrian border east of the Euphrates River, and we’re working on the west.  And the coalition continues to strike Daesh targets in both Iraq and Syria, degrading its leadership and putting it under more pressure than ever before.

Meanwhile, our allies are taking a more active role.  And President Obama recently gave a green light to sending higher quantities of ammunition and other aid to our partners on the ground.  In Syria, we see a chance to increase pressure on Daesh from more than one direction, especially if Russia makes good on its commitment, repeated many times, to help.  The point we have made to the Russians, however, is that it would be totally self-defeating to the point of farce to try at the same time to prop up Bashar al-Assad and his murderous regime, which seems to be precisely what Moscow wants to do.  And I have reminded the Russians the Syrian civil war began because Assad responded to peaceful youth demonstrations, part of the Arab Spring, by sending in thugs to beat people up.  And when the parents objected to how their kids were treated and they turned out to protect their children, the regime responded by firing bullets.

Having made peaceful change impossible, Assad made violence inevitable and thereby paved the way for Daesh to emerge.  The fact is that to this day, Assad and Daesh feed off of each other because the cruelty of each drives the desperate into the arms of the other.  And this cycle of horror has to stop.  Almost a quarter of Syria’s population has been forced to flee the country.  The international impact is absolutely heart-wrenching. 

I met with some of these refugees in Berlin a few weeks ago.  And the United States has proudly contributed more than 4.5 billion in aid, and President Obama has just pledged an additional 400 million.  We’ve also increased by sixfold the number of Syrian refugees that we will welcome to America. 

But the reality is there will be no end for the refugee crisis until there is an end to the conflict itself.  That is and has been our goal.  (Applause.)  And I literally leave tomorrow morning to go abroad to begin conversations that will take us through the next weeks to see if we can find the way to do that.  That is why we have supported human rights monitors and war crimes investigations.  We’ve pushed hard for humanitarian access.  We work closely with a broad array of opposition groups.  And we have provided equipment and training to moderates.

We also led a successful international effort to eliminate Syria’s declared inventory of chemical weapons.  Remember that.  People forget that.  The President gets criticized because he didn’t drop a couple of bombs for 10 hours, but that wouldn’t have gotten rid of the chemical weapons.  But because he was ready to do it and announced he was ready to do it, we were able to strike a deal with Russia and we got all of the declared chemical weapons out of Syria – the first time in the history of human conflict that weapons of mass destruction have in total been taken out of a country while that conflict is going on.  Imagine if we hadn’t done that and Daesh got those weapons.  (Applause.)  Imagine the devastation that the terrorists would have at their fingertips if they’d gotten ahold of an entire arsenal of sophisticated, lethal chemical arms.

Now, to find a way out of this hell, we have to change the political order of battle.  This is basic, and it begins with a crystal-clear understanding that the choices between Assad and Daesh is no choice at all. 

What does that mean?  It means that we have to bring together all who oppose both despotism and terrorism, and the way to do that is through a diplomatic process that gives hope to every Syrian who wants to marginalize the extremists and put in place a government capable of uniting and leading the whole country.

For Russian leaders, the choice is clear.  They can join in supporting a plan to drive Daesh back and create room for a more unifying set of Syrian leaders, or they can invest their arms and prestige on behalf of a dictator who is despised by the vast majority of his countrymen and hated throughout much of the region.  Whatever Russia does, the United States will continue to support a future for Syria that rejects both terror and tyranny and that seeks instead to end the killing and build a more stable and inclusive future.

So I come to you today to describe an America that is more engaged in more parts of the world, with more initiatives to bring about change and more development efforts, than in any time in American history. 

In Europe, we are standing firm with Ukraine. 

We’ve led the charge against Ebola, and just recently it was announced, after the predictions of a million people dying by last Christmas, that those countries are Ebola-free. 

Due primarily to the leadership of America and its partners – not just now, but over the course of decades – a child born today, girl or boy, has a far better chance than a child born at any previous time to survive infancy, to get the nutrition needed to grow up healthy, to attend school, to have a basic medical care, and to live to the age of 70 or more.

In recent years, the world has cut in half the percentage of people living in extreme poverty.  And with U.S. contributions showing the way, we are making steady progress towards the first AIDS-free generation in more than 30 years.  (Applause.)

Closer to home, President Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba following a breach of some 54 years. 

We’re also helping Colombia to negotiate an end to its 50-year war with the rebel group FARC, one of the longest-running conflicts on Earth.

In the Asia Pacific, we have embarked on a historic shift in approach that reflects the rising importance of the region, reinvigorating our traditional alliances and developing a relationship with Beijing that includes frank discussions on almost every single topic.

Now, no one makes all of this work more possible than the young men and women who are on the front lines every day protecting America’s interests.  And they deserve, whether in uniform or out, our eternal gratitude for the risks that they take.  I know – (applause) – I am privileged to see them at work all the time, and I see people in our diplomatic outposts who are literally putting their lives on the line for our country, many in lands of widespread poverty and insecurity. 

And they don’t just go abroad to sit behind barriers and talk to each other.  They go because they want to be the voice on the other end of the phone when Americans who are traveling get in trouble.  They want to help our businesspeople establish contacts that can create jobs.  They want to show that the United States cares when journalists or human rights workers or democracy advocates or religious groups are persecuted.  And they want to sit down with foreign officials to plan how our nations can best help each other now and in the future. 

Remember, leadership isn’t just a button that you push in a time of emergency.  Leadership must be backed by resources and it can’t be sustained on the cheap.  Ask any pollster, and she will tell you that the average American believes we spend as much as 25 percent – some even say 50 percent – of our national budget on foreign aid.  In fact, my friends, aside from Defense Department, everything we do in diplomacy, all of our USAID, all our development work, all of our diplomats, all of our outreach is one penny on the dollar, one dollar on a hundred dollars spent.  I repeat: one dollar out of every hundred.  And most of that money is devoted to helping other countries help us – by safeguarding nuclear materials, countering terrorism, defeating international crime syndicates, assisting U.S. travelers, and so on.  When we cut back on these funds, we make it harder to defend our citizens and harder for America to lead.  We are hurting ourselves.

So to all those of you here who are thinking about a future, I invite you to come and join us.  Join the State Department.  Apply to the Foreign Service or the Civil Service.  Contact the U.S. Agency for International Development.  Enlist in the Peace Corps.  Or participate in one of the many partnerships the State Department has forged with diaspora communities, faith-based groups, and students such as yourselves.  I ask you a simple question:  Would you rather spend the next 40 years complaining about the world or would you like to try to improve it? 

Your country needs you.  (Applause.)  We need you, and we need you in all your diversity.  Because if there is some stereotype in your mind about what a diplomat is supposed to look like, please forget it.  I guarantee that no matter what your personal background might be, we have people in high positions who have a huge amount in common with you.  The reason is that our country has no greater diplomatic asset than this: the culture and creed of virtually every country on the planet is represented somewhere within the population of the United States of America.  We are an idea – not a bloodline, not an ideology – but an idea that all people are created equal.  And I urge you to find the specialty that suits you most and become part of America’s team.

In closing, I share, very quickly, a story that underscores the difference that each person can make, and those of us of my generation grew up with a deep belief in our ability to change things.  That’s what the ’60s and ’70s were about.

In April of 1968, three days away from Indiana’s presidential primary election, our country was divided as never before by an – no, I can’t say “as never before,” obviously, the Civil War – but certainly through the 20th century.  And we were divided by the war in Southeast Asia – where, at the time, I was serving in the Navy, as President McRobbie said.  America was also deeply split by social tensions here at home.  The mayor of Indianapolis spent most of that April 4th – his 36th birthday – arranging security for a presidential candidate, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. 

And the sky had just begun to grow dark when the mayor was informed late that afternoon that at a motel in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated.  The police worried that they would not be able to protect Kennedy if he went ahead with his scheduled speech before a crowd not yet aware that a great civil rights leader had been killed.  Kennedy was determined to proceed.  He stood on a flatbed truck at the corner of 17th and Broadway and began by telling his listeners what they could not bear to hear.  There were sobs of anguish and gasps of disbelief.  And the news hit the country like a hammer.

But Kennedy spoke that night not of violence and bloodshed but of compassion and love.  He acknowledged the agony that many in the audience were feeling because of the assassination of such a great African American leader by a white man.  He mentioned the killing of his own brother, also by a white man.  And then he said:  “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”  And he asked the people of Indianapolis to pray, and to dedicate themselves, in the words of an ancient poet, “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” 

The city’s mayor wrote later:  “It was one of the most remarkable moments in history, a magnificent statement to a shocked group of people.”  The mayor saw Kennedy back to his hotel, and then spent the next days himself reaching out on street corners, in church basements, and on television trying to keep the fabric of the community he loved from unraveling.  He succeeded.  In Indianapolis, unlike many U.S. cities that month, there were no riots, no destruction, no eruption of hate.  The reasons for that included Senator Robert Kennedy, a Democrat, and a Republican mayor who had been on the job for just three months: Richard Lugar.  (Applause.)  

So my friends, Robert Kennedy also gave one of the great speeches that inspired me in South Africa when he talked about how each of us can make a difference, that each time a man or woman strikes out against injustice or works to improve the lot of others, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope which, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. 

I hope that you will leave here inspired and driven by that goal of bringing people together but on a broader canvas. 

I hope we will go out of here with the purpose of creating an ever-stronger global community, open to all, demanding of each, intimidated by none; a community not of governments alone but of people from all walks of life and from all countries bound together by a shared faith in the freedoms of thought, speech, press, and religion; a community committed to peace, respectful of nature and its limits, and dedicated to upholding the fundamental dignity of every human being.

Thank you for the privilege of being with you.  (Applause.)


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Call out: International BDS wave of solidarity with Palestinian Popular Resistance #SolidarityWaveBDS

Starting this weekend October 16-18
Solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance! Boycott Israel now!


A new generation of Palestinians is marching on the footsteps of previous generations, rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have joined demonstrations taking place in dozens of cities across historic Palestine and in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries.

Starting this weekend, join an international wave of action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. People of conscience who want to stand with the Palestinian struggle are urged to take action and develop Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions efforts. This would strongly convey to Palestinians that they are not alone.

The ongoing, youth-led Palestinian uprising is a response to Israel’s intensifying ethnic cleansing and oppression of Palestinians, especially in occupied Jerusalem. In recent months, Israel has sped up its theft of Palestinian land and demolition of Palestinians homes, stepped up its racist attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, tightened the siege on Gaza and implemented new racist measures against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Israel and its fundamentalist settler terror groups are savagely attacking Palestinian protests, executing Palestinian children and youth in the street and have left more than 1,000 with life-changing injuries.

An effective international response is urgently needed to pressure governments, institutions and corporations to end their role in Israel’s crimes.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which leads the global BDS movement, is a broad coalition of Palestinian unions and organisations, many of which are involved in popular resistance. The BNC is calling for a wave of action this weekend in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle starting this weekend, October 16-18.

Let’s take international solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance to the next level through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS):

  • Call for a military embargo and other sanctions against Israel at all protests and creative direct actions.
  • Maximize the benefit of solidarity protests by calling for BDS campaigns in all fields to further isolate Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid, as was done to apartheid South Africa.
  • Campaign against complicit international companies, such as G4S and HP, and Israeli companies, such as Elbit Systems, that participate in Israel’s infrastructure of oppression.
  • Organize events, teach-ins, creative actions and occupations to educate about Palestinian rights through involvement in BDS campaigning.
  • Promote your actions using the hashtag #SolidarityWaveBDS.

Are you organising a protest in your town or city? Let us know about what you’re planning by filling out this form. We’ll be posting the details of all of the actions taking place across the world on our website at in the coming few days.

TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with Matt Matthews




FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2015, 2:00 P.M. EDT


MODERATOR:  [I’m Mark Zimmer,] Media Relations Officer for East Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign Press Center.  We’re very pleased today to have Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. senior official for APEC, Mr. Matt Matthews.  He’s going to offer a preview of the 2015 Australia-U.S. Ministerial consultations. 

We’re on the record.  We’re going to record this.  We’ll put out a transcript later.  We are not broadcasting this event.  We’ve got a New York office on the line.  If anybody has a question, they’ll come up to the screen, so we’ll do it that way.  We’ve got about a half an hour today, and again, we’ll ask the Deputy Assistant Secretary to make a statement and then we’ll open it up for questions.  Thank you.

MR MATTHEWS:  So again, all right.  So I just wanted to say, first of all, I’m really delighted to be here and we are very excited to be welcoming Foreign Minister Bishop and your new Defense Minister Marise Payne to Boston next week for the AUSMIN.  This is our 30th AUSMIN, and we are also celebrating the 75th anniversary of U.S.-Australian relations – very close relations.  And it is also the 10th anniversary of the signing of our Bilateral Free Trade Agreement which was signed back in 2004. 

Accordingly, we are very excited to be holding this important meeting in Secretary Kerry’s hometown of Boston, and we’re very pleased to welcome the new defense minister there, to congratulate her as the first woman in Australia to hold that position.  We hold AUSMIN each year to reaffirm the close bilateral relationship and a strong military alliance between Australia and the United States. 

Over the past 75 years, Australia and the United States have become indispensable global partners.  I think as you all know, the United States is Australia’s largest foreign direct investor with I think somewhere on the order of $760 billion in investment in Australia.  We are your third largest trading partner, if I’m not mistaken, and you are our 11th largest export market.  So there is a very important economic relationship that underpins the relationship.  We also have a million and a half tourists travel between the United States and Australia every year – something that we encourage all people to do.  And there are 13,000 students studying in both our countries as well. 

Both countries engage in robust exchange in the areas of science and technological innovation, ranging from neuroscience to clean energy to information technology, and of course, our space-related cooperation that NASA has been doing in Australia for years that goes back to the time before they made the movie “The Dish,” right?  So it’s like if you’ve ever been outside of Canberra and been to visit that site, it’s kind of classic.

Australia and the United States have also a shared history of sacrifice across the globe, and we have dedicated ourselves to maintaining peace and security throughout the world, and that has been enshrined in our 1951 security treaty.  But I would say that it’s clear that even today Australia is contributing significantly to the coalition to fight ISIS, to provide personnel and aircraft to the coalition for air combat and support missions.  And Australia and the United States also continue to work as partners in the Asia Pacific region to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight with respect to international law and unimpeded lawful commerce. 

Australia and the United States worked together tirelessly with a number of other Pacific nations to successfully conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership just earlier this week, and we will continue to promote this agreement as one of the most expansive, high-quality trade agreements, and as a major opportunity to increase commerce, investment, and create jobs with increasing prosperity for all those participating economies.

America is a Pacific nation.  Its future is very closely tied to the Pacific.  The Australians are some of our closest friends there, and in fact, our closest friends in the world.  We are delighted to host them for AUSMIN, and at this time I’d just like to open it up and take your questions.

QUESTION:  Assistant Secretary, I’m Michael Vincent [of ABC Australia].

MR MATTHEWS:  It’s – just to downgrade myself to my proper rank, I’m a Deputy Assistant Secretary.

QUESTION:  Mr. Deputy Assistant Secretary – (laughter) – so, look, are you expecting any what you guys like to call deliverables out of the meeting at AUSMIN or is it kind of expected to be a sort of, I don’t know, what’s the —

MR MATTHEWS:  I think the best way to describe AUSMIN is a chance for our senior leaders at [the] cabinet level to get together and ensure that our comprehensive understanding of the way we look at the world and the challenges we face are really tightly matched.  Naturally, during the course of the year we have many interactions at lower levels in the U.S. and Australian governments between our diplomats from State or military folks from DOD.  But this is the premier event which really kind of sets the general framework and where both sides can reassure each other that we do – are coming from the same place.  And where there needs to be discussion, then discussion takes place.

QUESTION:  So when you – sorry, guys, just a quick follow-up on that.  When you say reassure each other you’re coming from the same place, you mean on policy goals and —

MR MATTHEWS:  Yeah, I think —

QUESTION:  — on defense and trade and that sort of stuff?

MR MATTHEWS:  Yeah, we actually – we don’t really need to assure each other, since we really are very tightly intertwined and we have a very close set of views about the challenges we face in the world.  But it provides – as issues arise and as they will, it provides that opportunity to be discussing them at a senior level.  And I think it’s always a very healthy thing to do.  That’s why we do it on a regular, annual basis.

QUESTION:  Australia has a new prime minister and also a new defense minister.  What are the U.S. Administration’s expectations of relations going forward with Australia?  I mean, I’d note Tony Abbott – I think it would be widely accepted he ensured there was strong relations between the U.S. and Australia under his leadership. 

MR MATTHEWS:  I think we are very confident that through the decades and through changing administrations on both sides the relationship has been extremely robust, and we fully expect that they will continue to be so.  We have a very talented team led by Prime Minister Turnbull, and I’m sure we’ll have excellent interaction and the relationship will continue to be as strong as ever.

QUESTION:  So you’d expect continuity?


QUESTION:  The ground beneath these meetings is shifting rapidly, though.  Isn’t it because apart from the change of leadership in Australia, the situation on the ground in Syria has massively changed in the past couple of weeks.  Is that going to be a focus of the talks?

MR MATTHEWS:  I think it’s – first of all, I would say that the grounds for the relationship are firm and stable and sure.  They’re globally based, they’re regionally based, and they’re bilaterally based.  So that’s a really strong, stable framework in which we operate in.  There are challenges that arise like Syria, ISIL in particular.  And how we go about meeting that challenge does present new problem sets to solve, but I think you’ll find that the United States and Australia are working quite well together in dealing with it. 

QUESTION:  Will the talks – do you expect the talks to focus on how the Australian contribution to the coalition fighting ISIL can operate alongside other coalition members, led by America, in parallel to another war going on being led by Russia?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, they may get into issues like that.  I don’t know specifically whether that will happen.  ISIL and Syria will be on the agenda to discuss.  But certainly to date, that coalition has been working effectively, and whatever challenges we face in managing our coalition activities side-by-side with increased activity from Russia – well, if that comes up, that would be perfectly natural and —

QUESTION:  You talk about Australia and the U.S. having similar objectives, and I think an example used was freedom of navigation in the Asia Pacific waters.  I assume you meant —

MR MATTHEWS:  Anywhere in the world.

QUESTION:  Yeah, the South China Sea is obviously very topical at the moment.  What role do you see Australia playing in helping to ensure there is freedom of navigation in the South China Sea?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, in the case of the South China Sea, there has been rising tension over the past several years due to the fact that there are multiple overlapping claims, and China has taken a more aggressive stance in asserting its claims.  The United States has a very clearly defined position.  We don’t take a position on territorial claims themselves, but we take a very strong and clear position that resolution of any of those claims has to be done consistent with international law, and it has to be done in a way that is free from bullying or coercion and should be done consistent with international institutions that are aligned to help deal with them.

So I think we have sought in international fora, including the EAS, including the ASEAN EMM, etc, to enunciate that position.  And we have called upon likeminded nations to do the same to ensure that the temperature and the level of tension is reduced by all parties adhering to reasonable means of addressing their overlapping claims, those that are consistent with international law.

We have also asked that all activities in the South China Sea that would intend to change facts on the ground, to change their positions, be halted, and we call upon China and other claimants to adhere to that halt.  And we appreciate it when other nations in the region share in promoting that view as a way of lowering tensions in the South China Sea.

QUESTION:  So Australia, in other words, being an advocate —


QUESTION:  — of the similar values that you were just espousing now.

QUESTION:  Given the Secretary’s very necessary focus on Syria and before that – well, and continuing, I imagine, dispute in Israel and around – in these talks, will he seek to reassure Australia of the State Department and the Administration’s ongoing commitment to a Rebalance?

MR MATTHEWS:  I think you can be well assured that the United States’ Rebalance takes place within the framework of whatever other challenges we face.  The United States has a fundamental position, which is that the future growth of the world is centered in Asia.  The highest, the greatest amount of global growth will be occurring in Asia and America as a Pacific nation with deep ties throughout Asia, and we need to have our efforts and our resources applied commensurate to that problem and to those opportunities.  So you can fully expect the Rebalance to continue, and I’m sure the Secretary will make that clear statement.

QUESTION:  Could you just – on that, can you just explain to us whether there will be any discussions about an increase of rotation for U.S. forces to Australia as part of the Rebalance or whether there’s going to be any other increase in joint exercises with neighboring countries of Australia, say Indonesia, which I think the U.S. is, I think, going to be hosting next month?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, I don’t know all the specifics about future plans for rotations, but under the general force posture agreement I think there is a longer term plan currently there – the rotations involve about a 1,200 Marine – is that right? – in and out of Darwin on a rotational basis?  And over time that builds up to 2,500.  So it would be perfectly natural that folks are talking about how you actually do the implementation of that plan.  But I don’t know the specifics of how they plan – that’ll be done between the defense minister and our Secretary of Defense.

QUESTION:  Okay, but there’s no – like I said at the outset, in terms of deliverables from this meeting, it doesn’t sound like there’s going to be any major changes to it being defense agreement, be it personnel rotations, [inaudible], be it intelligence sharing, or not that you’d probably discuss that with us anyway.  But it doesn’t sound like apart from just checking in the head of (inaudible) or whatever which is coming up in November, there’s – it doesn’t sound like there’s going to be any major announcements.

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, I think what you would expect is that their discussions will focus on the implementation of the force posture agreement as it stands. 


QUESTION:  Just back on the South China Sea, there’s been reports in the last 24 hours that the United States is planning to sail warships in a peaceful nature within 12 nautical miles of disputed islands.  I mean, would Australia have any role in such a maneuver, or is our role more limited to a more advocacy, diplomacy role that you sort of alluded earlier?  Is that where our sort of strength comes into any situation such as that?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, I guess first and foremost I’d just say that the United States has a longstanding robust freedom of navigation program and you can expect that to be ongoing.  The United States has naval resources in the South China Sea in any particular day, but I don’t and cannot comment on any specific plans.  For Australia’s plans, I refer you back to the Australian Government.

QUESTION:  On that, do you expect Australian Government plans to change underneath the new leadership.  Obviously not the underpinning of the relationship, but say contribution levels to the coalition joint effort.  Is that a matter you expect to be discussed?

MR MATTHEWS:  I hate to say it, but I just – I’m not sure of whether that is on the agenda or not —

QUESTION:  There was some —

MR MATTHEWS:  — and whether that – how that would be affected.  I mean, I would again refer you to the Australian Government on what its plans are for its future assignment of forces for particular coalition engagements. 

QUESTION:  It was reported some weeks ago in Australia that Australia requested the United States in turn request that Australia contribute to their coalition – contribute fighter aircraft.  Can you comment on that?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, what I would say is that we are in a coalition.  We welcomed Australia’s decision to participate.  That’s a decision for the Australian Government, and we’re happy that they are a part of that coalition.

QUESTION:  You can’t comment on the – how that came about?

MR MATTHEWS:  I’m not clear on the specifics, but a decision was made by the Australian Government and we’re happy they’re a part of the coalition.


QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)

QUESTION:  You go, Michael.  It’s all right.

QUESTION:  All right, just quickly.  I’m just trying to (inaudible) out what we’re going to be doing next Tuesday.  So aside from discussions about the coalition (inaudible) coalition in Syria and Iraq outside the South China Sea and these sort of defense issues, force posture discussion (inaudible).  Are there any other major defense issues or any – are there any other major foreign affairs issues that you think we should aware of ahead of these talks?

MR MATTHEWS:  Well, like I say, like, the – I guess the three major brackets of things to discuss in AUSMIN are bilateral issues broadly speaking.  You’d expect that TPP and discussions about TPP, although it’s now concluded – we’re all celebrating that conclusion, but all of us have work to be done to do the legal scrubs and then begin moving that agreement through the ratification process.  I would expect that’ll come up.  You can expect that there will be regional discussions, as we said, as well as broader global issues.  And among global issues, that can cover the – a very broad array.  With COP 21 coming up towards the end of the year, I think you should not be surprised if the issue of climate change and commitments on climate change going forward comes up as well.

QUESTION:  Since the new government’s taken power in Australia, some foreign policy experts, not all, have suggested or speculated that Malcolm Turnbull may have a more independent foreign policy of the U.S., not to say he wouldn’t be still a strong supporter of the U.S.-Australia alliance.  He has strong relations in China.  Is there any concerns within the Administration about that particular speculation?

MR MATTHEWS:  I don’t think there’s any concerns in the Administration on the strength of the U.S.-Australian alliance, period.

QUESTION:  Is countering violent extremism slated to be a matter of discussion?

MR MATTHEWS:  Yeah, countering violent extremism will be a topic of discussion.  As you know, it’s a challenge and the amount of disruption taking place in the Middle East – in Iraq and in Syria – the problem of foreign fighters, fighters going to the Middle East and at some point returning is an issue of real concern to nations around the world.  That would naturally be something that you would expect will be discussed in the course of the AUSMIN discussions.

QUESTION:  In particular the issue of foreign fighters and what —

MR MATTHEWS:  I would just say that would naturally be an element.

MODERATOR:  So we have a last question, maybe?

QUESTION:  Is there going to be – I believe there’s going to be a review of the troop levels in Afghanistan.  I think it’s been hinted at by the U.S. Administration.  It’s been reported in Australia that Australia is considering, I think, retaining high levels there if the U.S. does.  Could you comment on that?

MR MATTHEWS:  I really can’t.  That I will refer you to the Defense Department on.

MODERATOR:  Michael, anything final on your side?

QUESTION:  No, I’m good.  But I think that’s a very good overview of what we’re going to get.  I appreciate your time, Deputy Assistant Secretary.

MR MATTHEWS:  It’s my pleasure to speak to all of you.  Take care.


QUESTION:  See you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Michael.

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