This article was first published on the UNA-UK website.
On 7 November Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected as President and Vice-President of the United States. After an historic election, in which more Americans voted than at any other time in the last century, their administration will lead a country that was pivotal to the founding of the United Nations in 1945, and which remains crucial to its success today.
As we have said in the past, UNA-UK does not take a view on the election itself, but as a UN focused charity we do take an interest in how one of the most important stakeholders in the organisation engages with it.
We hope that the United States will constructively re-engage with the United Nations and recommit to its responsibilities towards upholding the rules-based international order that has brought stability and prosperity to its citizens, and – crucially – towards making this system work better, for those within its borders and around the world who have been left behind.
There is urgent work to be done to undo the tide of isolationism and profound exceptionalism that has marked the US’s approach to global affairs over the last four years. The Biden-Harris administration has already put together a team of some 500 policy experts to guide the government’s transition. We are encouraged by the depth of the transition team’s engagement on the issue of multilateralism, as evidenced by their website.
While the new administration is yet to outline the specific of its engagement with the UN, we hope to see the President-elect Biden swiftly:
- Return to the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organisation.
- Recommit to funding obligations with regards to the UN and specialised agencies such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which the previous administration withheld funding to, as well as repealing the Global Gag Rule that prevents funding for global birth control programmes. The administration should also reinstate funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which provides vital support including education, medical care and shelter.
- Rengage with the UN, particularly the Human Rights Council, OHCHR and UNESCO.
- Return to the JCPOA agreement, and work to strengthen the agreement by attempting to roll back sanctions.
During his victory speech, President-elect Biden stated the following regarding US global policy: “I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe. And we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”
UNA-UK hopes that this beckons a new chapter in which US policy not only supports the UN’s mission and multilateralism more widely, but also seeks to meaningfully build back better. It is vital that the US returns to fight against irreversible climate change and commits to net-zero emissions by 2050.