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Children’s ambassador not enough February 23, 2009

Posted by Molly in Analysis.
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The cry is out for a new “special ambassador” for children modeled after the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.  Jennifer Delaney, executive director of Global Action for Children, and Diana Millner,  executive director of Save Africa’s Children, called for the new role in an article for Foreign Policy on February 17.  But the real solution to the dizzying diaspora of foreign assistance programs is not one more office, but an overhaul of the strategic and budgetary planning process.

[T]he ambassador would coordinate U.S. efforts, keep tabs on policy, and formulate responses to issues that affect children worldwide. As the president’s envoy, the ambassador could engage heads of state and international organizations to build support for child-friendly policies, from reducing HIV transmission rates to ridding the world’s armies of child soldiers.

Reducing HIV rates and the prevalence of child soldiers are admittedly laudable goals, but what about oppressed and impoverished women?  Or the victims of religious persecution?  Can every suffering group get its own special ambassador?

Clearly not.  A special ambassador for children is a stopgap solution to a government-wide problem: inadequate strategic and budgetary planning that creates dueling programs with inconsistent objectives.  An expansion and improvement of the “F” process can resolve many of these issues with strong leadership from Secretary Hillary Clinton and Deputy Secretary Jack Lew.  This solution does not work as fast as a children’s ambassador, but works best in the long-term.

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