The Australian Council for International (ACFID) has commented on the decision by President-elect Biden to nominate Ambassador Samantha Power as USAID administrator and elevate the position to the US National Security Council.
Acting CEO of ACFID, Bridi Rice, said:
“Samantha Power’s nomination and the position’s elevation to the National Security Council will see international development cemented at the heart of US foreign policy. This is exactly where it should be, particularly during a pandemic when decades of development gains are being reversed and instability is accelerating.
“We are entering a new era for US foreign policy where development will take its proper place alongside defence and diplomacy. The US President will now be receiving direct development advice at the top table. Her profile, calibre and experience in the Obama-Biden administration will provide visibility for an agency which is often overlooked.”
On Power’s appointment, US President Elect, Joe Biden, said “there is no one better to ensure our development agenda is a core pillar of foreign policy”. Writing in Foreign Affairs in November, Power wrote of the importance of the “United States’ distinctive ability to deliver on issues that matter right now in the lives of hundreds of millions of people” and the importance of development to the “significant positive effect on American standing internationally.”
Biden has emphasised re-engaging in the multilateral system, tackling climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and strengthening democracy globally, as priorities of his administration’s foreign policy agenda. This includes a global Summit for Democracy during the first year of office. The Summit will prioritise civil society; fighting corruption; defending against authoritarianism, including election security; and advancing human rights.
Bridi Rice continued:
“The Biden administration’s unequivocal prioritisation of development will reinforce the case that Australia’s international development program needs to be front and centre of our own international cooperation. It will certainly trigger consideration by DFAT and in the minds of our own National Security Committee.
“The Australian Government’s recent lift in international development spending and the Prime Minister’s emphasis on using “all elements of statecraft” in Australian foreign policy is a step in the right direction. But for several years Australia’s engagement with the world – especially the development program – has been undervalued and critically underfunded.
“The impacts of COVID-19 will accelerate inequality and dramatically undermine human development and human security. The international development program is the best tool we can deploy in response.
“In Australia, it requires careful consideration. The US is not the only international player rethinking the role of development in its foreign policy toolkit. China’s recent release of its development cooperation policy has not gone unnoticed.”