Dear President Obama,
Oxfam America congratulates you on your inauguration as the 44th president of the United States. This historic moment provides an occasion to reestablish the role of the US as a global leader in fighting poverty and social injustice. And we believe you will make the most of this opportunity.
We ask that you take decisive and early action to shape how we engage in the international community. At a time when the US economy is in trouble and Americans are understandably concerned about their own economic well-being, we must not forget the needs of vulnerable populations around the world. If the US leads in the fight against global poverty, we can create positive long-term change that will result in a more just, prosperous, and secure world for all.
As your administration moves forward, you face an excellent opportunity to restructure US Foreign Assistance. Our current aid system is broken, which undermines American leadership and standing in the world. We ask that you work with foreign policy leaders in Congress to fix US foreign aid—a move that will fight poverty more effectively with no additional cost to taxpayers.
We encourage you to take bold action on climate change. The world?s poorest people—who are least responsible for climate change—are often the hardest hit by its consequences. Climate change is likely to increase economic and social instability, migration and refugee crises, and conflict over natural resources, and is quickly becoming a major driver of poverty and instability around the world. It is essential that your administration re-engage in international negotiations for a post-2012 agreement that includes significant cuts in emissions and additional funds to assist developing countries adapt to climate change. World leaders cannot create the next international climate agreement without US leadership. We also urge you to help bring about strong US legislation that not only dramatically cuts US emissions, but also provides significant assistance to poor and vulnerable communities.
Internationally, numerous conflicts continue to ravage civilian populations. We ask that you serve as a leader in prioritizing the protection of civilians in foreign assistance programs and cooperating with allies to remove obstacles to peace and stability. Yours is a unique opportunity: to build a 21st-century State Department by doubling the number of core diplomatic personnel and moving more personnel to potential and ongoing conflict zones. We know that we can rely on you to work closely with Secretary of State Clinton to achieve this vision.
In the US, we encourage you to turn your attention to the failed recovery of the Gulf Coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The inadequate US response to the desperate calls of her own citizens must not continue. Your administration can restore faith in government by helping to provide quality jobs and affordable housing for the low- and moderate-income families still unable to return to their former lives.
We look forward to working with you and members of your administration. We firmly believe that your leadership can help to improve the plight of millions of people who suffer from hunger, injustice, and violence around the world.
Raymond C. Offenheiser
President, Oxfam America