U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > More Publications > History of the Department of State During the Clinton Presidency (1993-2001)
History of the Department of State During the Clinton Presidency (1993-2001)   
Released by the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs

08. Global Issues II

Bureau of Environmental and Scientific Matters


In the post-Cold War period, the United States redefined its strategic interests, and foreign policy increasingly addressed a much broader range of global challenges. Environmental and health issues became part of the foreign policy mainstream, in recognition of the influence these issues exerted on free trade, sustainable development, democracy, and stability, including the safety and prosperity of U.S. citizens.

Working within existing and evolving international structures, negotiating important treaties and agreements, and building on established relationships to break new ground, the Department vigorously addressed global environmental and health challenges. Climate change, ozone depletion, ocean and air pollution, resource degradation, and infectious disease became important components of the U.S. foreign policy agenda.

In an April 1996 speech entitled "American Diplomacy and the Global Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century" (see Document VIII-1), Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced that the State Department would spearhead a government-wide effort to meet the world's environmental challenges. In Christopher's words, the United States was "providing the leadership to promote global peace and prosperity. We must also lead in safeguarding the global environment upon which that prosperity and peace ultimately depend."

Demonstrating the Department's commitment to its leadership role on environmental issues, Secretary Christopher announced the creation of regional environmental offices, or "hubs," in embassies in key countries. The hubs were tasked with intensifying regional cooperation on environmental efforts. They addressed pressing regional natural resource issues, advanced sustainable development goals, and helped U.S. businesses sell their leading-edge environmental technology. The first six "hubs," established in 1997, were San Jose, Costa Rica; Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Kathmandu, Nepal; Amman, Jordan; and Bangkok, Thailand. Copenhagen, Denmark, followed in 1998, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire; Ankara, Turkey; and Brasilia, Brazil, were added in 1999, and Gabarone, Botswana, became the eleventh hub in 2000.

Protecting the Global Environment

The Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit (December 1992) launched a new global partnership for sustained development that recognized the importance of environmental protection to the development process. The agenda adopted at Rio sought to address the pressing environmental problems of the twenty-first century. In the eight years following the Rio Summit, the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) engaged in numerous international negotiations designed to achieve the Rio goal of sustainable management of the environment. Between 1993 and 2000, the bureau saw a 181 percent increase in the negotiations it managed across the spectrum of environmental issues.

Climate Change

Building on several years of discussions in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in November 1997 the United States and 180 other countries adopted the Kyoto Protocol, a major milestone in the global effort to meet the challenge of climate change.

Kyoto established the broad framework sought by the Clinton presidency for realistic emission targets and timetables for industrial nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also secured agreement on market-based measures (emissions trading and the clean development mechanism) for meeting those targets, cost effectively.

At a conference held October 25-November 5, 1999, in Bonn, Germany (COP-5), the parties to the UN Framework Convention agreed to accelerate their efforts to turn the broad concepts of the Kyoto Protocol into working realities. Specifically, they undertook to more than double the time devoted to negotiations during the next year. At Bonn, the United States called for a new high-level dialogue with developing countries to explore the full-range of market-oriented strategies that could create sustainable development opportunities for those developing countries voluntarily reducing their emission levels.

The Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was held November 13-24, 2000, at The Hague. Participants discussed modalities to implement the Kyoto Protocol. The United States indicated a willingness to significantly reduce the amount of emission reductions it could claim under the protocol from carbon that is absorbed by U.S. forests, and was also willing to reduce its industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. While the United States made every effort to accommodate the reasonable concerns of others and was willing to compromise in order to reach a strong and reasonable arrangement that took into account both environmental integrity and cost-effectiveness, the parties were unable to reach agreement. The United States nevertheless remained committed to leading the effort to achieve a workable long-term solution to the problem of climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol opened for signature in March 1998. To enter into force, it had to be ratified by at least 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions of developed countries. U.S. ratification would require the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate.

Cross-Border Biotech

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was opened for signature at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro on June 5, 1992. By the end of 2000, 172 of the 183 countries in the UN system had ratified or otherwise acceded to it. The United States initially declined to sign the CBD in Rio because of concerns about the convention's intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer, and finance provisions. Following a careful review of these concerns in consultation with NGOs and industry groups, President Clinton signed the CBD in June 1993 and sent it to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings and favorably reported out the convention to the full Senate in June 1994. Because additional concerns were raised about the effect the Convention might have on land use and agriculture in the United States, the Senate curtailed further consideration of the accord.

On January 29, 2000, the Biosafety Protocol (also known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety) was adopted in Montreal, Canada. The purpose of this first protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which had not entered into force by the end of the Clinton presidency, was to provide a framework for addressing environmental impacts of bio-engineered products (called living modified organisms, or "LMOs") that cross international borders.

Although the United States was not a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity and therefore could not become a party to the Biosafety Protocol, it participated in the negotiations as a member of the Miami Group, a coalition of leading agricultural exporters that included Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile and Uruguay.

The protocol provided countries the opportunity to obtain information before new biotech organisms were imported. It acknowledged each country's right to regulate bio-engineered organisms, subject to existing international obligations. It also created a framework to help improve the capacity of developing countries to protect bio- diversity.

Oceans, Coastal Areas, and Fisheries

Law of the Sea. On July 29, 1994, the United Nations adopted the Agreement Relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and opened it for signature at the United Nations in New York. The agreement fundamentally changed the provisions of the convention (Part XI) that established a system for regulating the mining of mineral resources from the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction. The purpose of the agreement was to remove the obstacles to the acceptance of the convention that had prevented the United States and other industrialized countries from moving to become parties to it.

Judging that the agreement satisfactorily addressed long-held objections to the Convention's seabed mining provisions, the Clinton administration signed the agreement and submitted the Law of the Sea Convention and the agreement together as a package to the Senate for its advice and consent. As of January 2001, the package remained on the calendar of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Global Fisheries Initiative. Following up on the Rio Summit, the United States negotiated three global fisheries arrangements that contained innovative new mechanisms to strengthen regulation of international fisheries. These instruments-the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the FAO Fisheries Compliance Agreement, and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing-provided important new tools to address serious over-fishing of many of the world's fish stocks. While working to bring these agreements into force, the United States also initiated a number of FAO Plans of Action to help achieve sustainable fisheries. These included Plans of Action to address incidental catch of seabirds in long-line fisheries, management and conservation of sharks, management of fishing capacity, and the Plan of Action on Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU Fishing).

Sea Turtles. As authorized by Congress and in close cooperation with Mexico, the United States led a three-year effort to negotiate a Sea Turtle Convention with other Latin American and Caribbean nations. Substantive negotiations on the convention concluded on September 5, 1996, at a meeting in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. The Senate gave its consent in September 2000, and President Clinton signed the instrument of ratification in October. The convention represented a cooperative effort on the part of Congress and the Executive Branch to build international support for the protection of endangered and threatened sea turtles. The convention also helped to ensure that the U.S. and foreign fishing industries faced comparable regulatory requirements with respect to their activities that might affect these species.

Salmon. In June 1999, after 15 years of negotiation, the Department of State resolved one of the longest running contentious issues in the bilateral relationship with Canada: Pacific salmon. The United States and Canada signed an historic agreement that established a strong, sound 10-year regime for sharing and conserving intermingling salmon stocks in the West Coast fisheries.

A number of other post-Rio Clinton-era agreements and initiatives also sought to protect the oceans, coastal areas, and fisheries. These included:

  • Ratification and entry into force of the Antarctic Environment Protection Protocol.

  • Entry into force of the South Pacific Environment Program Convention.

  • Entry into force of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation.

  • Entry into force of Amendments to the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (MARPOL), requiring tankers to be fitted with double hulls or another method that was equally protective of the cargo.

  • Adoption of Amendments to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping and Other Matter, prohibiting ocean dumping of low-level radioactive waste, with a provision for reassessment every 25 years; prohibiting ocean dumping of industrial waste; and prohibiting incineration at sea of industrial waste and sewage sludge.

  • Adoption of Amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), providing for mandatory ship reporting and mandatory ship routing which contributed to the safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation, or the protection of the marine environment.

  • Adoption of amendments to SOLAS to introduce an International Safety Management code, enhanced surveys of vessels, and measures to reduce or eliminate the adverse impacts on the marine environment from substandard ships.

  • Adoption of Amendments to MARPOL to introduce measures to reduce or eliminate the adverse impacts on the marine environment from substandard ships.

  • Initiation of the UNEP Global Program of Action to address land-based sources of pollution.

  • Adoption by the International Whaling Commission of a whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean, home for a majority of the world's whales.

  • Adoption of the Noordwijk Statement on Integrated Coastal Management.

  • Establishment of a Committee on Trade and the Environment under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.

  • Entry into force of the International Dolphin Conservation Program.

  • Conclusion and ratification of a U.S.-Mexico Maritime Boundary Treaty for the Western gap in the Gulf of Mexico.


At the Rio Earth Summit, leaders adopted the Forest Principles-the first-ever global consensus on the importance of forest and policies for conserving them.

Following Rio, in 1995 the UN Commission on Sustainable Development established the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF). The IPF identified 135 proposals for protecting and conserving forests.

Also in 1995, twelve nations containing 90 percent of the world's temperate and boreal forests came together under the Montreal Process Working Group to endorse a comprehensive set of "criteria and indicators" of sustainable forest management. By the end of 2000, over 150 countries were beginning to implement such criteria and indicators.

In 1998, the G-8 leaders adopted an Action Program on Forests that promoted protected areas, combated illegal logging, focused on monitoring and assessment, and called on nations to engage NGOs and the private sector in programs to protect forests.

In February 2000, after 5 years of UN negotiations, the United States successfully turned back a call for a new global forest treaty advocated by the EU, Canada, and Russia. Instead, countries agreed to the U.S.-proposed alternative of establishing a new UN body to address forests; the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF). The UNFF facilitated implementation of practical actions to promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and coordinated existing efforts by international institutions.

Trans-Boundary Pollutants

Global Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) Agreement: In December 2000, the United States successfully negotiated a global POPs agreement with 122 countries under the United Nations Environmental Program. The accord was scheduled to be signed in Stockholm, Sweden, in May 2001. The POPs treaty was the first global accord to address in a comprehensive manner the risks to human health and the environment of chemicals and other pollutants. The treaty lowered POPs emissions in those countries where little had been done to address the problem. Thus, fewer of those foreign-origin POPs reached the United States. The United States had already taken strong action on all twelve of the pollutants addressed by the Global POPs Agreement.

PIC Convention: In September 1998, the United States signed the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Convention, covering the growing trade in hazardous pesticides and chemicals. With the conclusion of the convention, an importing country had to give explicit informed consent before specific chemicals could cross its borders-a requirement particularly important to countries without the scientific expertise or equipment to deal safely with these substances. The Rotterdam Convention, which replaced various voluntary systems, initially covered 22 pesticides and five industrial chemicals.

UNECE LRTAP POPs: In June 1998 the United States signed the UNECE Long-Range Trans-boundary Air Pollution Agreement (LRTAP) Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). This protocol focused on a list of 16 substances that had been singled out according to agreed risk criteria. The protocol banned the production and use of some products outright (aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone, dieldrin, endrin, hexabromobiphenyl, mirex and toxaphene). Others scheduled for elimination at a later stage were DDT, heptachlor, hexaclorobenzene, and PCBs. Finally, the protocol severely restricted the use of DDT, HCH (including lindane) and PCBs.

UNECE LRTAP Heavy Metals: Also in June 1998, the United States signed the UNECE LRTAP Protocol on Heavy Metals. This protocol targeted three particularly harmful metals: cadmium, lead and mercury. According to one of the basic obligations, parties had to reduce their emissions for these three metals below their levels in 1990 (or an alternative year between 1985 and 1995).

U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement: In October 2000, the United States signed with Canada an amendment to the bilateral Air Quality Agreement. Under the amendment, further steps would be taken by both countries to reduce air emissions and address emissions that caused ground-level ozone pollution.

Endangered Species

The Clinton presidency made strong use of endangered species conservation tools such as the Pelly Amendment, using it successfully to persuade Taiwan to improve controls and actions against illicit trade in rhino horn, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to continue to prevent trade in products from such endangered species as elephants, sea turtles, rhinos, and whales. The administration also successfully pursued additional legislation to protect endangered species, including the Great Ape Conservation Act, the Wild Bird Conservation Act, and the Rhino/Tiger Conservation Act.


The Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) was concluded in 1994 and entered into force in 1996. By the end of 2000, more than 165 countries were party to the convention. The CCD entered into force on December 26, 1996. The United States signed the CCD on October 14, 1994, and President Clinton transmitted it to the Senate on August 2, 1996. It received Senate approval October 18, 2000, was signed by President Clinton on November 13, and deposited with the United Nations on November 17, 2000.

The convention made developing nations responsible for designing and carrying out their own National Action Programs to combat desertification. It especially emphasized the role of local communities and non-governmental organizations in this effort. The Convention's community-based "bottom-up" approach reinforced democracy-building initiatives and the development of civil society in many countries.

Protecting the Global Environment: Voluntary International Initiatives

The efficient and effective resolution of some environmental issues required rapid action and flexible responses not always associated with the outcome of formal, global negotiations. For several such issues, the Clinton presidency chose to work through voluntary international initiatives. These arrangements enabled participants to get down to business quickly, and take into account what were often the unique regional characteristics of otherwise global environmental problems.

The Arctic Council

The Arctic Council was established in September 1996 as a high-level intergovernmental forum to address environmental protection and sustainable development issues in the Arctic region. Member states included the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. The United States held the two-year chairmanship of the Council September 1998-September 2000.

The International Coral Reef Initiative

The Clinton administration supported both domestic and international efforts to protect and monitor coral reefs. The reefs were important fish habitats (and therefore contribute to food supplies and livelihoods), helped protect coastlines, ports and harbors from environmental damage, contribute to recreation and tourism, and were a potential source of new pharmaceuticals.

In 1994, Under Secretary for Global Affairs Tim Wirth and the Department of State launched the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), a consortium of governments, NGOs, and industries, to protect, restore, and preserve the world's coral reefs. Led by USG efforts, ICRI:

  • focused global attention on the destruction of reefs caused by the growing international trade in coral reef species;

  • gained international consensus for its priorities to address the decline of coral reefs worldwide;

  • focused international attention on disastrous coral bleaching and the connection between coral bleaching and climate change;

  • established a global monitoring network to collect data on the status of the world's coral reefs;

  • ensured that the marine program of work of the Convention on Bio-Diversity included coral reef ecosystems;

  • worked to clarify and strengthen the guidelines governing coral reef items in international trade;

  • worked with international conservation fisheries and development bodies to highlight coral reef conservation issues; and

  • called attention to the issue of destructive fishing (blast and cyanide) and over-fishing, as well as to the need to use integrated coastal zone management for sustainable use of coral reef sources.

ICRI was instrumental in the design and endorsement of the 1997 International Year of the Reef. As part of this year-long effort, over thirty countries, academic entities, NGOs, and government agencies launched efforts to sponsor workshops, develop national action plans, and strengthen public-private partnerships to address the global degradation of coral reef ecosystems.

On December 4, 2000, President Clinton established the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Reserve to protect coral reefs and wildlife that inhabited the area around the northern Hawaiian Islands. The Reserve covered 99,500 square miles and encompassed the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge established by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Trans-Boundary Water

OES took the lead in advancing Secretary Albright's global trans-boundary water initiative, partnering with donor countries and international financing institutions to address trans-boundary river basins in key regions, in an effort to improve resource management and promote regional stability. As part of this initiative, OES developed an interagency team with more than twenty participants from USAID and other government agencies to strategize on specific approaches for addressing regional freshwater issues. The bureau also consulted with other governments on forming a multinational team to work cooperatively to address trans-boundary water issue.

Tropical Forest Conservation Act

In 1998, President Clinton signed the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA). The Act authorized relief of official debt owed the United States in exchange for tropical forest conservation measures. Under the Act, part or all of an eligible country's qualifying debt could be relieved in one of three ways: debt reduction, debt buy back, or debt for nature swaps. In each case, a Tropical Forest Fund was established in the beneficiary country to receive interest or other local currency payments from the national government as required under the terms of the debt option. The fund was used to support activities connected with the conservation of tropical forests in that country.

Congress appropriated $13 million for the TFCA for FY 2000, and another $13 million for FY 2001. To be eligible to participate in the TFCA, a country had to be low- or middle-income, as defined by the World Bank, and meet several other eligibility requirements.

Invasive Species

The globalization of trade and rapid development of transportation routes brought with it a new threat to ecological and economic systems in the form of invasive species of plants, animals, and microbes. Invasive species threatened agriculture, fisheries, forests, human health, and ecosystems and could significantly affect countries' development. In the United States alone in the late 1990s, crop losses and control measures cost an estimated $138 billion annually. In the Great Lakes, zebra mussels clogged intake pipes and affected native fisheries. Asian long-horned beetles attacked U.S. hardwoods, threatening timber and tourism. Disease-carrying mosquitoes spread dengue and encephalitis, and invasive grasses overtook range-land.

In February 2000, President Clinton signed an Executive Order on Invasive Species, creating an Invasive Species Council to direct and coordinate the work of government agencies on this issue. The council was co-chaired by the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and the Interior, and membership was open to all federal agencies. The Executive Order also established an Invasive Species Advisory Committee, consisting of invasive species experts from the non-federal sector: primarily academics, non-government organizations, and industry. The Council, in association with the Advisory Committee, presented an Invasive Species Management Plan to the President and the public in the fall of 2000. The plan outlined how the U.S. Government, in cooperation with organizations and other governments, would minimize the threats of invasive alien species to the environment, economies, and human health. The plan also set out guidelines for restoring landscapes already affected by invasive alien species.

In the Executive Order on Invasive Species, the Department of State was given the U.S. Government lead in coordinating international efforts to address the problem. As Chair of the International Working Group of the National Invasive Species Council, OES developed an international work and management plan for the council, engaged governments that shared its concern in discussion of the possibility of forming a voluntary intergovernmental initiative to address the issue through dissemination of information to other governments, and developed a plan and obtained funding to conduct regional workshops to educate government officials about the invasive species threat.

The AIDS Pandemic

As was true of protecting the global environment, the protection of human health was among the Department of State's strategic goals during the Clinton presidency. The AIDS pandemic, therefore, was approached as an issue affecting the country's broad national interests as well as a humanitarian issue. During the Clinton presidency, the United States was the largest bilateral donor of AIDS development assistance, with over $1 billion donated from 1991-2000. Department of State efforts in combating HIV/AIDS were ongoing throughout the Clinton presidency.

In 1995, the Department of State issued a document entitled, "U.S. Strategy on HIV/AIDS" (see Document VIII-2), on U.S. Government programs and activities contributing to the international HIV/AIDS efforts. The Under Secretary for Global Affairs and the Assistant Administrator for the Agency for International Development co-chaired an interagency meeting of the International Sub-Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology (CISET), which called for an interagency study on infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Under the direction of State Department and AID co-chairs, CISET issued a report on Emerging Infectious Diseases. The report resulted in the issuance of Presidential Decision Directive NSTC-7 (see Document VIII-3) calling for greater interagency activity to fight infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

In 1996, the Department of State established an Emerging Infectious Diseases and HIV/AIDS Program (EID) under the auspices of the OES Bureau. The program served as the focal point for the development and implementation of U.S. foreign policy objectives to address the growing threat of emerging infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS. As part of this effort, the EID Program represented the Department to other governments, other federal departments and agencies, international organizations, and the private and public sector on emerging infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS.

During 1996, discussions with the Government of Japan led to cooperation on HIV/AIDS issues between U.S. and Japanese technical and development assistance agencies. Discussions with the European Union culminated in agreement to develop HIV/AIDS cooperation through the U.S.-EU Task Force on Communicable Diseases. Discussion of HIV/AIDS was part of the meeting of the Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7) at Lyon, the first time any health issue was raised in this forum. In December of 1997 (and on World AIDS Day in each succeeding year of her tenure), Secretary of State Albright issued a World AIDS Day statement, the first time a Secretary of State addressed HIV/AIDS as a foreign policy issue.

In March 1998, the Department's Counselor, Wendy Sherman, hosted an Open Forum on HIV/AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Sherman issued a directive to foreign policy agencies to make the issue a foreign policy priority (see Document VIII-4). The United States negotiated an HIV/AIDS resolution in the UN Human Rights Commission strengthening international commitments to HIV/AIDS cooperation and securing greater respect for human rights for persons with the disease. The Department of State/USIA International Visitor Program brought foreign professionals in a variety of fields to the United States to discuss HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases as a foreign policy issue.

On March 16, 1999, Secretary Albright launched a diplomatic initiative on HIV/AIDS and emerging infectious diseases-"U.S. International Response to HIV/AIDS" (see Document VIII-5)-raising this urgent foreign policy need to a global priority. The Department of State, as coordinator of an interagency working group on HIV/AIDS, spearheaded action among U.S. Government agencies, industry, and non-governmental organizations against HIV/AIDS. Through the diplomatic initiative, the United States enhanced the awareness of national leaders around the world, especially in the countries of southern Africa. For the first time, the 14 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries collaborated with the United States to develop and implement consistent HIV/AIDS policies to tackle the trans-border issues that promoted the spread of disease. Under Secretary for Global Affairs Frank E. Loy and UNAIDS Director Dr. Peter Piot co-hosted a briefing for the foreign diplomatic community on the foreign policy implications of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Secretary Albright raised HIV/AIDS issues with all Heads of State in her meetings during the UN General Assembly, and with Heads of State during a trip to Africa, encouraging national governments to assign a higher priority to HIV/AIDS. She also opened the UN program to commemorate World AIDS Day at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke traveled to Africa and discussed HIV/AIDS foreign policy concerns with African leaders in preparation for the United States chairing the UN Security Council.

In January 2000, Vice President Gore chaired a UN Security Council meeting on HIV/AIDS in Africa, initiating greater U.S. commitment to international assistance for HIV/AIDS. In March, the Secretary raised the issue of enhanced U.S.-EU cooperation on AIDS and other infectious diseases at the U.S.-EU ministerial meeting. In September, at the 55th UN General Assembly in New York, she joined twelve other female foreign ministers in sending a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan proclaiming their joint resolve to combat the global scourge of HIV/AIDS, recognizing the need for strong national and international leadership in that effort, and noting the special needs of women in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment (see Document VIII-6).

Ensuring U.S. Access to Outer Space

For much of the Clinton presidency, OES devoted time and effort to supporting international agreements concerning the International Space Station, the largest cooperative civilian S&T project ever undertaken. The Inter-government Agreement on the International Space Station was signed in 1998. In addition, OES supported negotiations with Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada on a code of Conduct for International Space Station crew members. U.S. agencies, with help from OES, concluded more than a dozen other major space cooperation agreements, in fields ranging from human space flight to weather satellite cooperation.

A goal critical to ensuring U.S. access to space was international acceptance of Global Positioning System (GPS) standards. OES achieved a major breakthrough in the fall of 1998 with the signing of the U.S.-Japan Joint Statement on GPS Cooperation. Working groups established under the Joint Statement met for the first time in September 1999. Department discussions with the European Union convinced the Europeans that their proposed global navigation satellite system, known as Galileo, should be interoperable and compatible with GPS. Although the issue would need to remain part of the OES agenda for some time to come, an extensive diplomatic campaign to build international awareness of the importance of GPS made excellent progress during the Clinton presidency.

Specific examples of OES/State achievements during the Clinton presidency with respect to international space cooperation included:

  • Secured Russia's integration into a restructured international Space Station partnership and led the government-level negotiations to amend the 1998 Space Station Agreement.

  • As part of the Gore-Chernomyrdin process, promoted broad, rapid expansion of space cooperation with Russia, which yielded more than a dozen new cooperative projects, including the Shuttle-Mir docking missions.

  • Helped develop Presidential Decision Directive NSTC-2, converging the NOAA and DOD polar-orbiting weather satellite systems into a single, integrated civilian system-a significant component of the administration's "Re-inventing government" Initiative.

  • Promoted expansion of space cooperation with Latin America by renewing the U.S.-Argentina Civil Space Cooperation Agreement and concluding an Umbrella Space Cooperation Agreement with Brazil.

  • Laid the groundwork for concerted international action on orbital debris, an emerging threat to safe, cost-effective space operations.

  • Led efforts to move control of civilian remote sensing systems and services from the Munitions List to the Commerce Control List, thereby paving the way for commercialization of this activity and easing bureaucratic hurdles for U.S. firms to compete in the international market.

  • Led the interagency effort to monitor Russia's compliance with the U.S.-Russia commercial Space Launch Agreement, to ensure fair treatment for the U.S. space launch industry.

  • Developed the first U.S.-Ukraine Space Agreement which was signed by Presidents Clinton and Kuchma.

Science at State

Throughout the 1990s, science, technology, and health issues grew in importance in the conduct of international diplomacy. Science-related issues rapidly transformed the U.S. bilateral and multilateral relationships, including in the areas of national security, economics and trade, infectious diseases, and meeting global needs for food, water, and energy.

In order to secure the Department's lead role on these issues in foreign affairs, in 1998 Secretary Albright asked the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a study of the contributions that science, technology and health expertise and activities could make to foreign policy. The National Research Council (NRC), the research arm of the Academy, released a comprehensive report on October 7, 1999, assessing-and offering recommendations designed to strengthen-the Department's science, technology, and health capabilities.

On October 28, 1999, Under Secretary for Global Affairs Frank E. Loy and Senior Adviser for Arms Control and International Security John D. Holum, with the help of Dr. Jack Gibbons, former Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, convened a Department-wide task force on Strengthening Science at State. The job of the task force was to assess the NRC report and provide recommendations to the Secretary.

At the same time, the Secretary began to reach out to senior scientific figures to begin laying the foundation for one of her chief policy pillars, the creation of an active partnership with the science community. She gave a widely-praised keynote speech to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington on February 21, 2000 (see Document VIII-7). In that address, she outlined her vision for ensuring that science and technology were properly integrated into the formulation of foreign policy. She described her three-pronged approach: laying a strong policy foundation; reinforcing the leadership and management function, including raising science literacy of all Department personnel; and forging an active, long-term partnership with the scientific community.

This vision was further refined in a written statement on science policy, "Science and Diplomacy: Strengthening State for the 21st Century," signed by the Secretary on May 12-during Global Science and Technology Week-and released to the Department and the public on May 15, 2000 (see Document VIII-8). The science policy statement was released together with the report of the Loy/Holum Task Force, "Science and Foreign Policy-The Role of the Department of State," which had been compiled March 28, 2000.

As part of the structural changes, a Science Directorate (which had been eliminated in 1997) was re-established in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, effective May 22, 2000, placing three Offices (Science and Technology Cooperation, Space and Advanced Technology, and Emerging Infectious Diseases) under the supervision of a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kenneth C. Brill.

Over the course of the Clinton presidency, OES initiated or renewed bilateral science and technology umbrella agreements with 34 countries, the European Union, and OECD. Science and technology collaboration was carried out with an additional 45 countries, without benefit of a formal umbrella agreement.

On September 19, 2000, Dr. Norman P. Neureiter, a scientist with strong credentials and extensive experience in government and private industry, was sworn in as the Secretary of State's Science and Technology Adviser, a new position in the Department.

Tools for the Job: Environmental Diplomacy Funding

In 2000, OES received $4 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) for Environmental Diplomacy projects that enabled the Department and OES to protect and advance U.S. interests in negotiations pertaining to oceans and the environment; promote regional cooperation on environmental, scientific, technical and health issues; and ensure U.S. leadership on emerging environmental and health issues. The Bureau was able to help fund 26 environmental diplomacy projects in 2000, addressing issues such as coral reef protection, sustainable forest management, invasive species, climate change, endangered species, and counter-AIDS efforts.

Population, Refugees, and Migration

Introduction: Putting a Human Face on U.S. Foreign Policy

Under President Clinton's leadership, "humanitarian response" was elevated to one of the seven national interests that the Department of State sought to promote and protect. Humanitarian response represented a core American value that evoked deep emotion in the hearts of Americans. Protecting and assisting refugees and conflict victims were particularly important elements of U.S. foreign policy in the Clinton administration. Many of the nation's foreign policy challenges in these 8 years-Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, and Kosovo-involved massive forced migration. In leading the Department's work in this area, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) consistently tried to put a human face on U.S. foreign policy.

Although the Department consolidated refugee assistance and admissions programs into the Bureau for Refugee Programs (RP) in 1980, these important foreign policy elements were boosted in bureaucratic stature in 1994 when the bureau was reconfigured, renamed PRM, and given an Assistant Secretary leadership post. As part of the new Undersecretary-led Global Affairs Office, PRM expanded its mission to include the population portfolio, which addressed one of the 16 national strategic objectives: "achieving a healthy and sustainable world population." Further, PRM coordinated efforts to promote orderly and humane migration policy. PRM's first Assistant Secretary, Phyllis Oakley, was sworn in on September 21, 1994.

Refugee Assistance: Sustaining Livelihoods and Finding Solutions

PRM's primary assistance goal was to prevent and minimize the human costs of conflict by ensuring that refugees and conflict victims had equal access to protection and life-sustaining resources in ways that met internationally accepted standards of care in shelter, food supply, nutrition, water supply, sanitation, and public health. Toward this goal, PRM channeled almost $4.8 billion to assist refugees overseas through international organizations (IOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during the Clinton administration. Demonstrating its commitment to multilateralism, PRM's main IO partners were the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). PRM's staff in Washington and its regional refugee coordinators based in embassies near relief operations monitored these programs to ensure that taxpayer dollars were used effectively.

When Julia V. Taft became PRM's Assistant Secretary in 1997, the bureau deliberately increased its annual assistance allocated through NGO partners in order to diversify assistance channels and support civil society more directly. In FY 2000, NGOs received $95.6 million in PRM funding to assist refugees around the world. PRM recognized that NGOs were not only effective program implementors, but also valuable partners in the formulation of humanitarian response strategies.

Basic standards of care for refugees were developed and disseminated through the PRM-supported SPHERE project in 1998-99, and the bureau encouraged its partners to adhere to them. PRM program officers increasingly prioritized the promotion of women's equal access to resources-and their participation in managing those resources-especially the distribution of food and other support items. Recognizing the lingering legacy of violence amid refugee and returnee populations, PRM began early in the Clinton administration to provide funding more consistently to address the diverse psychosocial needs among refugee communities through culturally-appropriate interventions. Similarly, tolerance and conflict resolution programs became more standard programming tools. The bureau improved its emergency response capacity-and that of its partners-to enable essential resources to reach those in need of quick assistance. Yet PRM also remained committed to providing humanitarian assistance to populations suffering exile for longer than a generation, such as the Palestinians, Afghans, Tibetans, and Angolans.

Protection : Operationalizing Legal and Physical Security

While PRM engaged vigorously in international efforts to make material assistance more effective and efficient, protection remained its primary focus. Concern for both legal and physical protection underscored all U.S. humanitarian activity. PRM's diplomatic interventions with host governments and collaboration initiatives with UNHCR and other partners served to operationalize the principles of protection for refugees and asylum seekers in host countries, for migrants and victims of trafficking, and for returnees and minorities during post-conflict reintegration.

During the Clinton administration, PRM worked especially hard to ensure adequate protection for women and children. The consequences of sexual and gender-based violence among refugees and conflict victims were a particular concern that PRM sought to deter, detect, and address through special programs and advocacy. PRM played a leading role in pressing UNHCR to mainstream women's issues into its overall activities and organizational philosophy. The bureau funded three comprehensive field-based refugee women's initiatives-in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo. PRM also sought to address the specials needs of children. Often neglected in program and policy design in emergencies, children were at particular risk of illness, separation from their families, and exploitation for sexual or military purposes. Tracing mechanisms, psychosocial programs, and education interventions were specific areas of PRM concentration. In addition, PRM's migration activities included pioneering public information campaigns and related activities to combat trafficking in women and girls in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Southeast Asia. And PRM was the principal supporter behind ICRC's multi-year effort to sharpen its focus on the needs of women and girls in conflict situations.

Repatriation Successes: Going Home With Security, Dignity, and Hope

The fundamental goal of U.S. refugee and humanitarian policy was to find durable solutions for the millions of persons forced to flee their homes because of conflict and human rights violations. The international community, led by the United States, achieved considerable success in finding durable solutions to refugee situations, often in support of regional peace processes. As the UNHCR-designated "decade of repatriation" ended in 2000, the international community celebrated the voluntary return of an estimated 13.5 million people to their homes since 1990. In addition to supporting massive repatriation programs in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide and refugee crisis, the Clinton administration facilitated the return of some sizeable refugee populations, including the Mozambicans in 1996, the Indochinese in 1996, and Guatemalans in 1997. In the last years of the Clinton administration, PRM assisted the repatriation of some 900,000 Kosovars (the largest and quickest return movement since World War II) and 175,000 East Timorese. Other repatriation success stories were less well-known (e.g., Liberia, Mali, Rohingya refugees from Burma, Cambodians, and more than 2 million Afghans from Iran and Pakistan), but equally important to the regions and individuals affected. PRM leadership and innovative programming-often supported by complementary State Department regional bureau diplomatic action and USAID development efforts-were key to these successes.

These successes are more remarkable given that repatriation was often an elusive solution because of the volatile and intractable nature of many conflicts that caused refugee flight. Usually, repatriation was a slow and complex process, as experienced through the Department's painstaking efforts to facilitate returns to Bosnia and Croatia after the Dayton Accords in 1995. Despite the global challenges, PRM continued to support not only the physical components necessary for successful return and reintegration-transport, shelter, health and education programs-but also the essential, intangible components like tolerance and peace education, which lead to reconciliation.

Refugee Admissions: From Rescue to Final Refuge

The refugee admissions program continued to be an integral part of PRM's humanitarian response mission. It ensured that refugee resettlement remained a viable tool for protecting and providing durable solutions to refugees from around the world. Each year, the United States resettled more refugees than all other countries combined. From 1993-2000, the United States opened its doors to more than 700,000 refugees. In FY 2000, for example, about 73,000 refugees from 64 different countries were resettled in the United States. PRM expanded its overseas processing infrastructure in locations such as South Asia and West Africa to ensure that refugees in need of resettlement, regardless of location, could benefit from the U.S. program. Working closely with UNHCR, the bureau worked to increase the number of countries resettling refugees and encouraged countries to open their doors wider for resettlement. PRM also expanded its human resource capacity and that of its partner agencies, including UNHCR, to respond to increasing resettlement needs in previously underserved regions.

PRM sharpened its focus on urgent protection needs, increased its percentage of "rescue" cases, and encouraged more referrals from UNHCR. In 1996, PRM was a key player in Operation Quick Transit, which rescued politically-targeted Kurds from northern Iraq. PRM also assumed a central role in the 1999 evacuation of some 13,000 Kosovars from Macedonia and then in the repatriation of over 3,000 of these individuals. In the last three years of the Clinton administration, the United States increased African admissions from 6,000 to 18,000 annually. In a particularly notable 2000 program, the United States provided final refuge for 3,800 Sudanese refugee youth who had been living for years as exiled orphans in the Kakuma, Kenya refugee camp. Further, PRM continued the development of the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS), a computerized communications network to link partner organizations worldwide and provide faster and more effective processing of the logistical details of refugee resettlement. At the same time, PRM made progress in completing longstanding commitments to the two largest caseloads of the decade-groups in Southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union where regular immigration, rather than refugee admission, was more appropriate in addressing continuing refugee resettlement interests.

PRM's reception and replacement program ensured that refugees' basic necessities were met upon arrival and during an initial period of integration in the United States. Ten national NGOs maintained a nationwide network of over 400 affiliates that provided appropriate reception services and basic necessities (housing, furnishings, clothing, food, and referral to available social services). The bureau developed a productive relationship with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, which provided longer-term program assistance for refugees once in their host communities.

Migration: Fostering Just and Humane Population Movements

Orderly migration is a positive global phenomenon, but requires international cooperation to ensure that it is managed humanely and protects the human rights of migrants. Concerning the United States, for instance, PRM worked closely with other U.S. Government actors to provide a safe haven at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for thousands of Haitians in 1994 and Cubans in 1995. PRM also collaborated with the Department of Justice in developing a more organized and transparent process for the consideration of grants of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to nationals of countries that have been afflicted by civil wars or natural disasters. Overseas, PRM channeled its programmatic support of international migration activities primarily through the International Organization of Migration (IOM) for technical assistance and capacity-building programs.

The major migration focus during the Clinton administration was on drawing together countries to develop comprehensive migration dialogues for improving asylum and migration policy in Europe, North and Central America, South America, the New Independent States (NIS), East Asia, and Southern Africa. As a catalyst in this process, the United States chaired and hosted the Regional Conference on Migration in Central and North America (RCM, also known as the "Puebla Process") in 2000. Migration initiatives also took on greater importance during the 1998 Santiago Summit of the Americas (SOA), and PRM accepted the lead role in promoting implementation of the Migrant Worker Initiative of the SOA Plan of Action. More than 500,000 humanitarian migrants to Israel were assisted through PRM's contributions to the United Israel Appeal. The Clinton administration also focused increased attention on the problem of human trafficking, especially of women and children. PRM played a significant role in U.S. efforts to combat this destructive practice, by supporting treatment centers for trafficking victims and safe return programs.

Population: Achieving Healthy and Sustainable Populations

PRM's Office of Population played a key role in developing a receptive international political environment for the implementation of voluntary family planning and related reproductive health initiatives consistent with the consensus reached at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt. U.S. leadership at the ICPD and subsequent bilateral and multilateral policy dialogues rested firmly on the Clinton administration's recognition that population issues affected many U.S. national and global interests. For example, it understood that unsustainable population growth impeded economic and social development by overburdening public services, exhausting employment opportunities, and contributing to environmental degradation. Unsustainable population growth also contributed to instability, potentially to outflows of migrants, and-when exacerbated by human rights abuses-refugees. It was expected that more than 95 percent of all future population growth would take place in countries that were increasingly unable to meet the needs of their expanding populations. Empowering women and educating girls was also critical to achieving sustainable and healthy populations, increased democratic practices, respect for human rights, and economic growth worldwide. As Secretary Albright stated at the White House on World Health Day, April 7, 2000: "When women have the knowledge and power to make their own decisions, whole societies benefit. This is how the cycle of poverty is broken and socially constructive values are most readily passed on to the young." Accordingly, one of the Department's 16 strategic objectives was to "achieve a healthy and sustainable world population," with an emphasis on improving reproductive health, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates, and increasing school enrollment rates for girls.

The world ceremonially recognized October 12, 1999, as the day the global population reached six billion. As trends projected continued rapid growth and declining resources, PRM ensured that the United States would meet its ICPD commitments, as well as the international 5-year review of the ICPD in 1999. PRM encouraged developing countries to meet the ICPD goals and "ICPD+5" benchmarks on education, maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health services, and adolescent vulnerability to HIV infection. The bureau also encouraged adequate resource allocation internationally to implement these strategies and began to address issues related to changing demographic patterns (e.g., aging, urban migration). A critical element of this work was increasing national and international awareness of population issues and integrating them into broader economic growth and sustainable development strategies.

PRM's leadership in the international population arena contributed to: a new and improved UN Population Fund (UNFPA) program in China based on principles of voluntarism and non-coercion, which began to change attitudes at all levels of Chinese society, including moving away from coercive family planning practices; improved coordination with AID on effective use of U.S. family planning assistance; and enhanced public diplomacy efforts at home and abroad on population issues and HIV/AIDS.

Pervasive Challenges: Seeking Solutions Through Coordination

The international community faced many continuing humanitarian challenges in the Clinton era, including lingering conflicts in Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Complicating these challenges were efforts to respond to the protection and assistance needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who often slipped between the cracks in the international humanitarian regime. PRM financially supported the work of the UN Secretary General's Representative for IDPs, Francis Deng, and looked for innovative ways to make the UN system work better to assist and protect these populations. PRM also sought better coordination among humanitarian actors to improve efficiency and quality of service delivery.

Encouraged by Presidential Decision Directive 56 on managing complex contingency operations (May 1997) and lessons learned from the Kosovo experience, the Department enhanced its involvement in civil-military planning with other U.S. agencies and international partners to encourage a more productive relationship when humanitarian and military actors were involved in the same operational context. Further, the management and emergency response capacity of PRM's humanitarian partners remained a concern, and bureau staff applied pressure and incentives to ensure they were prepared for their important roles in complex crises. PRM struggled with multilateral efforts to bridge the gap between programs delivering relief and programs fostering development. Theoretically easy, but practically difficult, the successful implementation of such linkages by governments, international organizations, and NGOs was an important goal in many of the bureau's programs. PRM backed the "Brookings Process," a multilateral process led by the World Bank, UNHCR, and UNDP aimed at operationalizing the transition from relief to development. Finally, PRM fought uphill battles, domestically and internationally, for adequate responses to the tremendous unmet need for family planning, unacceptably high infant and maternal mortality rates, and the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic.

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.