June 19, 2019

Chairman Risch Opening Statement at Nomination Hearing for The Honorable Kelly Craft to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a hearing on the nomination of the Honorable Kelly Craft to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

Chairman Risch gave the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

"Today we will consider the nomination of the Honorable Kelly Craft to be the Representative of the United States to the United Nations and to be the Representative of the United States to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

"We welcome all of you, and thank you, Ms. Craft, for your willingness to serve.

"I will speak for a few moments about the importance of this position.

"Of the approximately 200 countries, the United States is by far the largest donor to the United Nations providing 22 percent of the UN Regular Budget and 25 percent of the UN Peacekeeping Budget. Compare that to the 2 nd largest contributor: China, which pays only 12 percent of the regular budget and 15 percent of the peacekeeping budget. Clearly the U.S. taxpayer has been extremely generous to the UN since its founding in 1945.

"Due to the United States’ significant support and leadership, we have been somewhat, but not universally successful in pursuing policies which support the interests and values which are shared by many, but not all countries around the world. For example, in the Security Council, under President Trump’s leadership, the U.S. has been successful at passing the toughest sanctions ever against North Korea and an arms embargo in South Sudan ­– actions that are in the interest of all human beings and our allies, not just the U.S.

"However, the Security Council – largely due to Russian and Chinese misbehavior – has failed to make significant progress on some of the most pressing international crises.

"The United Nations exists to ensure international peace and security, but two of its members are the instigators of insecurity around the globe.

"For example, Russia has repeatedly used its veto at the Security Council to shield its brutal ally – the Assad regime – from investigations into war crimes committed in this 8-year long atrocity. And China blocks consensus on issues related to Burmese complicity in the violence against the Rohingya population.

"Because of this impasse at the UN Security Council, the humanitarian crises have only increased and become more prolonged.

"The UN plays a vital role in responding to humanitarian crises. This is where we see and urge burden sharing. While the U.S. remains the world’s largest donor to humanitarian crises across the globe, the UN system pushes other countries to contribute and uses our money as a force multiplier from places such as Yemen to Venezuela.

"It is important that the U.S. continues to pressure the United Nations to spend its money efficiently and effectively. The current UN Secretary General has been focused on UN reform, and I applaud this effort. It is long overdue and much needed. There needs to be robust push to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the UN System. Ms. Craft, we will be looking forward to you pursuing that which is important to many of us on this committee.

"In particular, we should continue to press for peacekeeping reform. While the UN has reorganized and created a new Department of Peace Operations, we remain concerned about the increase in resources requested, in light of the downsizing of some key missions such as in Darfur, DRC, and Haiti.

"While the United States benefits from being a member of the UN, the United Nations benefits more, much more, from the United States being a member.

"Ms. Craft, I look forward to hearing from you how you can support U.S. leadership at the UN to ensure that it promotes the interests and values of the U.S. and our allies.

"I have received some materials in advance of this hearing that I am going to include in the record. In particular, I have a letter of support from Gordon B. Giffin, who was U.S. Ambassador to Canada under President Clinton. Giffin states that 'I have no doubt that the experience gained over two years as Ambassador to Canada has prepared Kelly Craft well for the next assignment.'

"With that, I’ll turn it over to Ranking Member Menendez for any opening comments he wishes to make."

The Honorable Kelly Craft's testimony is available on foreign.senate.gov, as is an archived recording of the full hearing. 

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