US Department of State Establishes the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
January 11, 2012
By: Garrett Nada | Printer Friendly
On January 5, the United States (US) Department of State held a special briefing on the establishment of the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. The head of this new office, Under Secretary Maria Otero, explained the reorganization, which was recommended by the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Otero said the “new structure is going to help us become more effective and more efficient in carrying out our policies, and it’s going to enable us to collaborate in a stronger way and to use many of the tools that we have available that contribute to civilian security.” The establishment of the new office is in line with Secretary Hillary Clinton’s focus on civilian security and the protection of individuals.
Otero believes the changes will allow the US Department of State to better focus on helping countries build and strengthen their own societies, grounded in democratic principles and guaranteeing respect for human rights. The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons were already apart of this new office and will remain there. The Office of Conflict and Stabilization, which focuses additional issues related to civilian security, has been changed into a bureau and added to this office.
Additionally, the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau will return to this “family of bureaus” along with the Office of Global Criminal Justice. The coordination of these groups will more efficiently help nations build democratic institutions and judicial systems dealing with issues other than human rights. Otero said that her office will interact with civil society even more extensively than others. In regard to interagency work, this office is already working with the US Agency for International Development, the Department of Justice and with the Department of Defense, and others.
At the close of her initial remarks, Otero reiterated President Obama’s comments from a speech he gave at the Pentagon that same day. She said, “Ultimately the United States is better off in a world of just societies, where the first obligation of a government is to its people, where there is accountability under the rule of law, where the basic needs of all people are met, and where men, women, and children are safe from crime and violence, and where all individuals can exercise their full range of rights.”