In response to the nomination of Ambassador Samantha Power to lead the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“Oxfam welcomes the nomination of Ambassador Samantha Power as USAID Administrator. After four years of policies that have politicized life-saving US assistance and undermined this country’s role and standing in the world, Ambassador Power brings the experience necessary to help deliver a more coherent, equitable, and multilateral US foreign policy agenda that meets the urgency of this moment.
“As former US Ambassador to the United Nations, she brings deep expertise in diplomacy and foreign aid, and an appreciation of the importance of multilateral efforts to address the political root causes of humanitarian crises and poverty. Her first-hand experience navigating the complex ecosystem of US foreign assistance is essential to drawing clear lines between foreign military financing and other types of politically-motivated assistance on the one hand and poverty-focused humanitarian and development aid on the other.
“As a human rights advocate and scholar, we hope she will enshrine a rights-based approach to US assistance, ensuring that saving lives and fighting poverty and inequality are ends in themselves, not just tools to achieve national security aims.
“In the middle of a global pandemic and a climate crisis, the international aid architecture is not fit for purpose and in desperate need of bold new leadership and principled action. And these crises have strained already limited resources to deal with spiraling humanitarian crises.
“In the past four years, USAID has struggled with leadership vacancies, undue executive interference, and continued political controversy sown by President Trump’s political appointees. President Trump also slashed longstanding US support for global women’s programs, moved to instrumentalize or politicize foreign aid, attempted to erase the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ populations in policies and reports across the government, and fought key transparency, democracy, and good governance initiatives. In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, President Trump and his administration failed to lead effectively, and accelerated many of their worst xenophobic policies, all while undermining America’s global reputation.
“We urge President-elect Biden and Ambassador Power to do more than repair the harm done; they can and should reimagine and do better. We can take this unprecedented opportunity to shift the paradigms of power and strengthen communities, centering those most impacted and following their lead. To this end, we urge President-elect Biden to elevate the USAID Administrator to a cabinet-level position and signal a fundamental understanding of our current global crisis and needs of this present moment.
“We call on the US Senate to swiftly confirm Ambassador Power. Once confirmed, we look forward to working with Ambassador Power to rebuild USAID into the premiere development agency that saves lives, enhances our national interests, and builds partners that ultimately make a safer and more equitable world for all.”