May 3, 2019

The nomination of Kelly Knight Craft as US ambassador to the United Nations fills a critical role in the administration; however, the selection of a political donor rather than a seasoned diplomat signals a continuation of the United States’ waning leadership at the UN, said the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC).

“By selecting a high-level donor to serve as ambassador, the Trump administration again reveals its disregard for multilateral engagement and the UN system,” said IWHC Director of Advocacy and Policy Shannon Kowalski. “The US ambassador to the UN must be a dedicated diplomat with the tools to defend the UN system within the administration and advance women’s rights globally.”

Craft, currently the US ambassador to Canada, is unlikely to hold the cabinet-level rank held by all other recent US ambassadors to the UN. Given her background, Craft is not expected to have the authority to drive or set policy. If confirmed, she will fill the role formerly occupied by Nikki Haley. In her time as ambassador, Haley ostracized civil society, removed the US from the Human Rights Council, undermined sexual and reproductive health and rights, and oversaw an overall decline in US leadership at the United Nations. If confirmed, Craft will likely continue the administration’s strategy of using the UN system to target the rights of women and girls.

From its first day in office, the Trump administration has taken every opportunity to undermine women’s health and rights—particularly sexual and reproductive health—and the UN has been one of their key battlegrounds. Since Haley’s departure in January 2019, the US has only escalated its aggressive behavior. At the Commission on the Status of Women, the US sought to strip language related to gender and sexual and reproductive health, and undermine global commitments to women’s rights. At the Security Council, the administration threatened to veto a resolution on support for survivors of gender-based violence if references to sexual and reproductive health services were not removed. Nothing in Craft’s limited experience suggests that she has the necessary skills, temperament, or inclination to challenge the administration’s regressive policies.

Reproductive rights have been embedded in UN agreements for more than two decades, since the landmark International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. They are also a key target in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—a bold set of global goals aimed at ending poverty and reducing inequality and injustice by 2030, which the US played a critical role in creating. A rollback of these commitments—as we’ve seen throughout the Trump administration—could set back decades of progress for women and girls around the world.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett; (+1) 917.498.3346


Photo: UN Photo / Manuel Elias