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Samantha Power

USAID Administrator

On January 13, 2021 President-elect Joe Biden announced Samantha Power as his official nominee for USAID administrator. Power was influential in shaping the Obama-Biden administration’s foreign policy agenda, most notably as Ambassador to the United Nations. She has championed workplace protections and international safety for LGBTQIA+ communities and signaled support for reproductive rights, but her overall human rights record has received mixed reviews.

Samantha Power Was Confirmed By The Senate As USAID Administrator In April 2020

Samantha Power Was Confirmed By The Senate As USAID Administrator On April 28, 2021. "Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday with a 68-26 vote to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development." [Axios, 4/28/21]

Politico Reported Biden Picked Power As His Nominee For USAID Administrator. “President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his intent to nominate former Ambassador Samantha Power as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, the federal agency charged with distributing billions of dollars in foreign aid.” [Politico, 1/13/21]

Axios Named Power A Candidate For USAID Administrator On December 14, 2020. “Joe Biden is considering Samantha Power to head the United States Agency for International Development, which would place a high-profile figure atop foreign aid and coronavirus relief efforts, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. Why it matters: Installing Power — a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about genocide — would signal the Biden administration plans to revitalize foreign assistance and use it as an instrument of soft power and to achieve humanitarian goals.” [Axios, 12/14/20]

Power Is A Vocal Advocate For Equitable Policies For LGBTQIA+ Communities, Both Domestically And Internationally

While Testifying At A House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing, USAID Administrator Power Condemned The Practice Of Anti-LGBTQIA+ “Conversion Therapy” At USAID-Funded Clinics And Pledged To Combat Its Use. “[Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI):] So you may be aware that OpenDemocracy reported recently that some USAID-funded clinics around the world are promoting conversion therapy, which of course is a very dangerous and discredited practice that perpetuates stigma and discrimination and violence against the LGBTQI community, and I hope you will look at the issue and determine how you can ensure that, you know, are dollars are not being used to undermine protections of the LGBTQI community and the safety of the community by promoting and funding conversion therapy in places around the world. [USAID Administrator Power:] Yes, I can commit to that. Conversion therapy is unacceptable and USAID opposes it. We neither plan for, obviously, nor approve payment for activities that amount to torture and foster also broader violence against LGBTQI people.” [U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 7/14/21]

Power Championed Efforts Made To Support LGBTQ Refugees Entering The American Workforce. “There are still far too many countries that persecute people for who they love or who they are. While we must do more to provide a safe haven for those who need to flee, we must also do more to help them stand on their feet when they’re resettled in their new homes. Businesses mentoring LGBTQ refugees is a step in the right direction -- and will make a meaningful difference in refugees’ lives.” [HRC, 12/8/20]

Power Signaled Support For Establishing International Safety Standards For LGBTQ Communities. 

[Samantha Power, Twitter, 3/12/16]

Power Recognized Workplace Protections For Employees Belonging To LGBTQ Communities As A Key Move Towards Ending Workplace Discrimination.

[Samantha Power, Twitter, 7/21/14]

Power Criticized The State Department’s Decision To Deny Visas To Domestic Partners Of United Nations Employees During The Trump Administration. 

[Samantha Power, Twitter, 9/28/18]



Power Recognizes Gender Equity And Reproductive Rights As Essential Steps Toward Humanitarian Progress

As USAID Administrator, Power Met With UN Population Fund Director Dr, Natalia Kanem To Discuss Their Renewed Partnership In Providing Family Planning And Maternal Health Services And Combatting Gender-Based Violence Around The World. “Today, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power met with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem to discuss USAID’s revitalized partnership with UNFPA. Administrator Power stressed the importance of USAID’s renewed collaboration with UNFPA in expanding access to voluntary family planning and maternal health and addressing gender-based violence in humanitarian crises, which devastates the lives of women and girls already in dire circumstances - especially as seen in Tigray and Venezuela. Administrator Power and Executive Director Kanem also discussed their shared commitment to preventing sexual exploitation and abuse.” [USAID, 7/6/21]

Power Applauded The Supreme Court’s Decision To Strike Down Louisiana’s Abortion Ban. 

[Samantha Power, Twitter, 6/29/20]

Power Espoused Gender Equality As An Essential Component Of Sustainability And Development. “Both Samantha Power and Susan Rice have demonstrated their commitment to the health and rights of women and young people. As ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice led the U.S. delegation in several successful and critical negotiations to promote global gender equality. Last month at her confirmation hearing, Samantha Power stated that “countries that violate the rights of women and girls will never approach their full potential.” [HuffPost, 8/2/13]

Power Criticized The Trump Administration’s Extremist Commission On Unalienable Rights

At The 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit, USAID Administrator Power Alluded To Her Criticism Of The Commission On Unalienable Rights And Its Hierarchical View Of Human Rights. “I know there are those who see religious freedom as first amongst rights and others who seek to defend religious freedom, belief, and conscience as part and parcel of a comprehensive commitment to human rights. But what has become even more clear in the past year is that religious freedom is only as secure as its co-equal rights. The freedom to speak freely, to assemble and associate freely, to advocate your cause to political leaders and to live free from slavery or torture. These rights––these principles––are interdependent; religious freedom cannot exist without them. And it is our responsibility to advance them all.” [USAID, 7/14/21]

Power Joined Advocates In Signing A Joint Letter Which Urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo To Disband The Commission On Unalienable Rights. “Hundreds of activists, advocacy groups, clergy and former government officials have signed letters that urge the State Department to disband its controversial human rights advisory commission …Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and 37 other former government officials signed the letter…“We, the undersigned U.S. foreign policy, human rights, civil liberties, social justice, and faith leaders, experts, scholars, and organizations, write to express our deep concern with the Department of State’s recently announced Commission on Unalienable Rights,” reads the letter.” [Washington Blade, 7/23/19]

Although Power Has Pledged To Champion Human Rights, Her Humanitarian Interventionist Tendencies Have Been Criticized As War Hawkish

Power Shaped The Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy With Her “Humanitarian Hawk” Outlook

Power Joined The Obama White House In 2009. “Power, who provided Obama with foreign-policy advice when he was a senator and a Presidential candidate, joined the White House in 2009 as a champion of humanitarian intervention in an Administration dedicated to ending the conflicts it had inherited and refraining from entering into others.” [The New Yorker, 9/9/19]

Power Saw War As The Instrument For Dealing With Humanitarian Crises. “Power generalized from her Balkans experience to become an advocate of American and NATO military intervention in humanitarian crises, a position which became known as being a ‘humanitarian hawk.’ She began to see war as an instrument to achieving her liberal, even radical, values. ‘The United States must also be prepared to risk the lives of its soldiers’ to stop the threat of genocide, she wrote. She condemned Western ‘appeasement’ of dictators.” [The Nation, 3/30/11]

While In Obama’s White House, Power Advised The Catastrophic Libya Intervention

Power Advocated For U.S. Military Intervention In Libya, Which Had Dire Consequences. “In her book, she doesn’t agonize much over the part she played in the response to the Libyan crisis. But senior Administration officials say that Power, a forceful personality, pushed hard for a military intervention. ‘She was clear in her views,’’ Derek Chollet, another member of the National Security Council, told me. A Times story described her role, along with that of Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, as decisive. Power, in her memoir, calls the story ‘bizarre.’ Yet she concedes that she did recommend the course of action that Obama chose, while saying little about the catastrophic consequences that followed, apart from noting a ‘severe downturn in security.’ She also refrains from addressing several questions that linger over the intervention, the kind that preoccupied her in her first book. The most basic among them is whether, given the way the intervention turned out, war was necessary.” [The New Yorker, 9/9/19]

  • Power “Essentially Absolves” Herself From The Intervention, Which Obama Has Characterized As The Worst Decision Of His Presidency. “Power essentially absolves herself and the Administration of what happened after the bombs: “We could hardly expect to have a crystal ball when it came to accurately predicting outcomes in places where the culture was not our own.” In a certain light, this sounds like an argument for not intervening at all. Obama has referred to America’s involvement in Libya as the worst decision of his Presidency.” [The New Yorker, 9/9/19]

Power’s Track Record As U.N. Ambassador Is Checkered 

Power Testified That “Common Security And Common Humanity” Would Be A Driving Force Of Her Leadership Style While Serving As Ambassador To The United Nations. “As the most powerful and inspiring country on this earth, we have a critical role to play in insisting that the institution meet the necessities of our time. It can do so only with American leadership. It would be an incomparable privilege to earn the support of the senate and to play a role in this essential effort, one on which our common security and common humanity depends. Thank you.” [CNN Transcripts, 6/5/13

Power Cited The International Community’s Approach To The 2014 Ebola Outbreak As A Positive Example Of Humanitarian Intervention. “But the response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic proved that the same scramble-the-jets approach America used for warfare could be–and should be–deployed for humanitarian purposes. “So few threats stay confined within any one country,” she says, that it’s simply pragmatic to work with other countries to nip crises in the bud, even if it doesn’t initially seem to be in America’s national interest.” [TIME, 9/5/19]

Power Admitted That Under Her Watch, The American Stance In Yemen Made U.S. “Complicit In Systemic War Crimes.” “Power admits when pushed that her favorite job was at the U.N. Her successes there were not, on the surface, enormous. She did not broker peace in Syria, and she acknowledges that the Obama Administration backed the wrong horse in Yemen, which became even more of a human-rights travesty after President Trump took office and doubled down on that bet. “We are complicit in systematic war crimes,” she says of the situation there.” [TIME, 9/5/19]

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