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A Conversation with Ambassador Kelly Craft

JULY 7, 2020  | WEBINAR

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

This discussion featured the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft in conversation with Director and President of the Wilson Center, Jane Harman. This wide ranging conversation touched on the impact of COVID-19 on humanitarian crises and rising tensions around the world as well as Ambassador Craft’s recent work on the Cross Border Humanitarian Aid in Syria, the Iran arms embargo, and growing Chinese influence around the world.




  • With today’s pandemic reshaping all facets of our lives, Hon. Jane Harman and Ambassador Kelly Craft opened the discussion with an exploration of the shift in the regular functioning of the UN and the UN Security Council (UNSC) over recent months, especially with a number of consequential votes on the table. Technology has allowed functioning to remain unhindered and, in an odd twist, provided a real opportunity for soft power and diplomacy, with Ambassador Craft sharing her efforts to reach out to representatives of all Member States to express support and goodwill at this critical time.
  • Ambassador Craft remarked on dynamics at the UN and the recent Security Council election in which Canada, Norway, and Ireland had all contended for two coveted seats. Having key allies in the General Assembly is critical to the protection and perpetuation of democratic ideals around the world, and while Canada missed out on a seat on the Security Council, Ambassador Craft stressed the importance of Canada’s involvement in the General Assembly.
  • The conversation then explored humanitarian crises around the world, particularly the harrowing situation in Venezuela and Syria. Developments at the UNSC have resulted in a rejection of Russia’s proposal to limit aid to Syria as well as renewed hope that the UNSC will extend cross-border humanitarian aid to Syrians in dire need. Providing human dignity and critical support, particularly during the public health threat of the pandemic, is essential to both ensuring a future for displaced Syrians and Venezuelans and to putting pressure on Russia and China.
  • Jordan has been a critical regional partner in terms of allowing aid to flow into Syria and supporting the millions of Syrian refugees fleeing conflict. Similarly, Colombia has acted, along with its regional partners, to support Venezuelans in need. Ambassador Craft reiterated the importance of international partners and allies working together to protect the UNSC’s efforts to maintain life-saving resources to refugees around the world and to thwart any counterproductive efforts of China and Russia that may ultimately cost lives. In spite of the pandemic, it is important to take a stand on these critical issues and make sure those in need are not forgotten as a result of the focus on the coronavirus. Regimes working to undermine life-saving efforts, like Iran, Cuba, and Russia, must be publicly identified and called out for their actions by the international community and multilateral bodies such as the UN.
  • According to Ambassador Craft, bilateral ties have deteriorated substantially in the U.S.-China relationship as a result of the new national security law in Hong Kong, human rights abuses against the Uyghar minority in the Xinjiang region, and the pandemic. Ambassador Craft shared her belief that the recent events in China are not a national issue, but an urgent issue for the UNSC to address. Without international pressure on the human rights abuses against the Uyghars and the Communist Party’s advance against democracy in Hong Kong, China will quickly turn its attention to Taiwan and aggressive expansion in the South China Sea, stated Ambassador Craft. She went on to share her belief that the Communist Party is using the disruption and unrest of the pandemic to move forward its national, regional, and global agenda, and that it falls on the international community to hold China accountable for its actions during this challenging time.
  • Against a backdrop of rising global tensions, the conversation shifted to Iran and the impending expiration of the arms embargo. Ambassador Craft shared the fact that no Member State wants to see the embargo expire, and that she is working closely with U.S. allies to ensure that every tool is utilized to prevent arms from moving freely globally.
  • Ambassador Craft shared her gratitude for the strong legacy passed on by former ambassadors Nikki Haley and Susan Rice, and emphasized an indelible desire to build on that continued legacy of successful diplomacy.


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