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Diplomacy in Action

Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) Telephone Briefing

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Donald K. Steinberg, Deputy Administrator U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Washington, DC
December 17, 2010

Date: 12/17/2010 Location: Washington D.C. Description: Dec. 17: Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, and Donald K. Steinberg, Deputy Administrator U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hold a Foreign Press Center telephone briefing on the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). - State Dept Image

3:30 P.M. EST

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. And thanks to all the journalists who are joining us today. Welcome to the State Department’s Washington Foreign Press Center telephone press briefing on the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, QDDR. Briefing us this afternoon are Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, and Donald K. Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

This is an on-the-record briefing. Dr. Slaughter and Mr. Steinberg will each have opening remarks and we’ll then move to a Q&A session. I ask that all the journalists keep their questions short, to the point, and focused on the QDDR.

The QDDR was launched by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in July 2009 with the goal of strengthening and elevating diplomacy and development cooperation as key pillars of U.S. foreign policy.

Well, as we’ve seen this past week, there’s no one more qualified to talk about the QDDR than Dr. Slaughter. So let’s turn the microphone over to her and we’ll begin with her opening remarks. Please go ahead.

DR. SLAUGHTER: Thank you and thanks to all of you who are the phone late on a Friday afternoon. This has been a report that’s been almost 18 months in the preparation, but the first thing to say is that at a time in which we have a new Congress coming in and a focus on deficits and tight budgets and making government work better, Secretary Clinton is ahead of the curve. She has – she actually commissioned this report in July 2009 with the very simple goal of asking the State Department and USAID to figure out how can we do better, also to look down the road and identify the big trends that we see in the world and determine how we can prepare today so that we will be ready in four years, in 10 years, in 15 years. So that’s why it’s a quadrennial review. We’ll be doing it again in four years.

But we have been doing the work of figuring out how to make government work better, and we group our recommendations in a number of different categories. The first is really increased transparency across the board. Indeed, we’ve just rolled out a new dashboard for foreign assistance that will allow anybody to track State and USAID’s foreign assistance to be much more efficient. We’ve looked in many places where we could consolidate and reconfigure in ways that will save us money down the road, how we can be more effective and more accountable.

The second overall conclusion or basket of recommendations for this report are really around the idea of leading through civilian power, that in the 21st century, given the problems we face, the kinds of problems, the need to work very closely with other countries and also with individuals and groups to solve those problems, and because of the relative way in which we want to conduct our foreign policy, civilian power has to be the first face of American power, supported by our military and in partnership with our military, but it’s civilians who have to lead.

The second point there is that when we talk about civilian power, we are not just talking about our diplomats and our development professionals at State and USAID. We are talking about our civilians across the federal government. So this is a review that says going forward we will be working with the Justice Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury, the Department of Agriculture, all the civilians across the government who increasingly run programs and build relationships with their counterparts abroad – the justice ministers abroad, the health ministers abroad, the border security ministers, the finance ministers, that all of that is a part of our civilian power and that State and USAID overall lead those agencies in a way that provides the strategic framework within which they have to work.

That means on the ground that our ambassadors will be trained and selected as CEOs of a multiagency mission responsible for the work that gets done by all agencies within countries, but also required to lead in a way that actively engages all agencies in our planning and in our execution.

Finally, on the diplomatic side, the review emphasizes conflict prevention and response. Investing in conflict prevention is the most cost-effective investment we can make: That is the view across the U.S. Government, including in the Department of Defense. In the State Department we want to build a capability, a political capability to engage in early warning, conflict prevention activities from election monitoring to community stabilization, in ways that will also allow us to be a much better partner to USAID in disaster relief where – and where they work on the ground and humanitarian crises more broadly. The focus on conflict prevention and response saves money and saves lives.

With that, I will turn to my colleague, Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg, to talk about one of the central parts of the report that the Secretary wanted to emphasize from the very beginning, the elevation and transformation of development.

MR. STEINBERG: Thanks, Anne-Marie. I think the important thing about development in the QDDR is that it reflects the vision that the President and the Secretary of State identified in the presidential decision memo on development in general that he presented at the United Nations in October. This was the first time a president had ever issued a directive about development. And both documents stressed that international development is in America’s interest just as it is the interests of the developing countries, that it reflects our national security and economic interests, as well as promoting mutual values that we all hold in these areas.

I think it also highlights the need for AID, that is, the U.S. Agency for International Development, to be at the center of these efforts working with our colleagues at the State Department and other agencies; and finally, that we need to consider new business models in development. We need to focus on developing sustainability in the governments around the world that we’re working with, that we need to focus our efforts with the depth and scale needed to ensure game-changing impact, that we can’t be all things to all people, especially in an environment of scarce resources, and therefore we need to concentrate our efforts in such areas as food security, global health, climate change, sustainable economic growth, democracy and governance, and humanitarian assistance. It also states clearly that the empowerment and participation of women in all of these efforts is a cross-cutting priority that’s essential to success in all of these areas.

The QDDR empowers AID in this whole-of-government approach in a number of ways. It helps reestablish our planning capability. We have now created a Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Learning. It helps rebuild our budget capacity through the creation, which has already occurred, of an Office of Budget and Resource Management. It highlights the need for innovation and the application of science and technology to our international development efforts. And it also expands our capacity to partner with the many U.S. Government agencies involved in international development as well as donors, multilateral institutions, civil society, and the private sector.

It is also significant insofar as it transfers leadership over two important presidential initiatives – one now, one prospectively. To begin with, USAID will immediately assume leadership and accountability for the President’s interagency Food Security Initiative with the coordinator based at USAID and reporting to the administrator and the Secretary of State. And it also says that USAID will assume leadership and accountability on the President’s interagency Global Health Initiative, with a transition target of September 2012, when certain benchmarks are achieved. I think these final two elements are very important since they reverse a pattern of the recent past where such initiatives were housed elsewhere.

We also think that in general this document is an important vote of confidence by the President and the Secretary of State in AID’s capacity to serve as the government’s development agency and to run its most important development initiatives.

And, as Anne-Marie, I’d be delighted to take questions.

MODERATOR: We already have one journalist in the queue ready with a question. So we will go ahead with Ali from Pakistan.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity. Ali Imram from Associated Press of Pakistan. My question is to both participants. To Dr. Slaughter: In what ways has this review determined that the U.S. should reach out to Pakistani society, because Pakistan has a very active civil society and a vibrant media who help bridge the trust gap between the two countries advance mutual interests?

And Steinberg, my question is: What is the feedback of U.S. assistance of our flood affectees*? What has been the symbolic value of U.S. substantial aid in this flood crisis? Thank you.

DR. SLAUGHTER: Thank you for your question. The report includes an entire section on engaging beyond the state. And indeed, from the U.S. perspective, we define civilian power as power across all agencies, but also much more broadly in terms of working with individuals and corporations and foundations and NGOs in U.S. society who want to participate in many international issues.

With respect to the Pakistani people, the – as I said, the report emphasizes engaging beyond the state as something that all diplomats have to do, that we cannot partner with nations if their people are against us. And in Pakistan, there is a vibrant civil society and there are many potential partners on women’s issues, on energy issues, on education, on health, all the areas in which we are working together.

So in terms of how the report would affect what we do in Pakistan, it would reinforce many of the things that Secretary Clinton has already launched in terms of engaging not only the Pakistani Government, but very much directly the Pakistani people

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. STEINBERG: In the case of the Pakistani floods, as I think you know, USAID and State Department humanitarian assistance has totaled some $570 million in terms of assistance both for flood relief through our Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, our Food For Peace program, as well as a variety of early recovery forums. We have engaged both our – the U.S. military as well as the UN World Food Program to preposition food stocks in anticipation of winter that is coming up.

We have also been working very closely with the KPK Provincial Disaster Management Authority to expand our efforts in that regard. Plus we provided additional assistance in Sindh Province for health, nutrition, humanitarian information, water, sanitation, hygiene programs, et cetera. It’s our view that indeed, this has been a real challenge to the country, and we want to be a full partner to Pakistan in addressing these challenges.

QUESTION: And may I have a follow-up question, please?

MODERATOR: Sure, go ahead.

QUESTION: To Mr. Steinberg, I want to cite the impact of U.S. assistance for Pakistan when the 2005 earthquake happened. So I wanted to know if there has been any feedback for – because at that time, United States image in Pakistan, it increased and it really skyrocketed significantly. So what has been the feedback from this current U.S. engagement and substantial assistance for Pakistan in this flood crisis?

MR. STEINBERG: Well, I would really leave that to you and our friends in Pakistan to analyze. I will say that as early as July 30th, our Ambassador Anne Patterson declared a disaster assistance notice in response to the flooding. As early as July, as early as early August, we deployed a disaster assistance response team. And indeed, since that time, we have continued with our support for the some 18 million people who have been suffering as a result of the floods. This is a challenge that we’re all facing.
We’re focused, as you know, on population returns, on agriculture, emergency food assistance, nutrition, health, and shelter. We’ve been working with a wide variety of implementing partners in all the affected regions. And we hope that this demonstrates to the Pakistani people that we are their friends and that we recognize that this is not only a political disaster, but it’s been a humanitarian disaster as well.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Steinberg, for that very thorough response. And I’d just like to ask our colleagues from the media to keep the questions a little bit more focused on the QDDR. That’s the topic at hand today.
OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Sonia Schott from Globovision, Venezuela.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you so much. I think Mr. Steinberg mentioned democracy development and governance, and I was wondering if you can comment on any specific projects you have – that you have in South America, specifically in Venezuela. Thank you.

MR. STEINBERG: Well, we are providing a wide variety of countries on democracy and governance. We have a wide-ranging support for civil society, for press freedom, for support for human rights defenders. Many of these programs do, in fact, operate in South America as well as Venezuela. This is a top priority for us, both from the standpoint of human freedom, but also from the standpoint of development. And that is where USAID’s priority emphasis is and will remain.

We believe that to the extent that governments are transparent, that they provide opportunities for their people to comment on government performance, to the extent that governments are efficient and able to implement development policy, to the extent that they can draw on civil society as partners and business community as partners, that this encourages development around the world. And that’s the focus of the QDDR’s emphasis.

We are creating a center of excellence for democracy and governance within our bureau of democracy, crisis response, and humanitarian affairs. And we will be looking at increased funding through that mechanism.

QUESTION: If I may, I have a follow-up on that. Well, it is, because Mr. Steinberg mentioned that he’s trying to enhance and to foster democracy, transparency and so on. But in the case of Venezuela, I know that the government has been very reluctant on these kind of projects. And I would like to know if he can comment on that too.

MR. STEINBERG: Well, I will say that our Venezuela program has been designed to strengthen democratic institutions, provide space for democratic dialogue, and as I mentioned before, to encourage civilian participation in political process. We have a variety of implementing partners from the wide spectrum of civil society. We focus on dialogue, public debate, citizen participation, training for democratic leadership. We have been providing technical assistance to political parties and supporting civil society.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MODERATOR: As long as we have a moment here, I’d like to remind all the journalists on the line that the QDDR, both the report and executive summary, are available for download at, You can also find a number of transcripts from recent briefings from this week as well.

Well, we don’t see any more questions coming in from the journalists on the line. If Dr. Slaughter or Mr. Steinberg have some closing thoughts or remarks, we could do that now. Otherwise, we’ll wrap up our press briefing this afternoon.

DR. SLAUGHTER: From – I would just again say thank you and to encourage you to read the executive summary, and indeed, the report is very, very rich. It does have – it answers many questions that I think many governments around the world are asking.
MR. STEINBERG: And I would only add that Anne-Marie Slaughter deserves tremendous credit for her leadership on this initiative. She’s been at this her entire time at – virtually her entire time at the State Department. And I understand that outside the State Department, she’ll be personally signing copies for anybody who wants them.

DR. SLAUGHTER: (Laughter.) Right. Have a good weekend, all.

MODERATOR: Thank you everyone and bye-bye for now.

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