WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered the following statement at a committee hearing for the nomination of Ambassador Kelly Craft to be U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

“Ambassador Craft, welcome to your second confirmation hearing for a deeply consequential position.

“The United States was instrumental in creating the United Nations in the post-war era, built on founding American values of democracy and human rights. Multilateral institutions like the United Nations and NATO have underpinned the peace, prosperity and stability that the American people have enjoyed for decades. These fundamental values and international institutions, however, are under assault today from actors who seek to exploit them for their own agendas, as well as those who threaten to abandon and undermine them completely.

“If confirmed, you will represent the United States at an exceedingly complex time, with China’s growing influence at the UN, Russian adventurism and obstruction on the Security Council, and President Trump’s relentless attacks on multilateralism -- undermining and withdrawing from numerous international agreements and agencies, defunding critical UN agencies like the UN Population Fund and cutting contributions to our peacekeeping obligations.

“The American people need someone with tenacity, experience, and a deep understanding of complexities of global affairs and international institutions; someone who is committed to multilateralism, and reforming and strengthening the UN, not irreparably damaging it.

“Madame Ambassador, let me frank: I have deep reservations about your lack of qualifications for such a complex and challenging role. Historically, U.S. ambassadors to the UN have brought significant executive experience, or experience working directly in foreign policy.

“Before your short stint as Ambassador to Canada, I understand you were active in Kentucky and national party politics, and in 2007, you were an alternate observer delegate to General Assembly.

“Furthermore, during your one and a half years as Ambassador you spent an excessive amount of time absent from Ottawa, leaving your duties to deputies. Madame Ambassador, the most fundamental role of an ambassador is to actively, presently, and wholeheartedly represent and advocate for American interests, American values, and American foreign policy. I find this staggering amount of time away from post very troubling and an abdication of leadership. If confirmed, you would be serving alongside some of the most experienced, seasoned, and sometimes ruthless diplomats from all over the world.

“We are confronting myriad challenges in the world today, including multiplying conflicts, climate change, nuclear proliferation – that cut across borders, which the United States alone cannot meet. While the UN and its subsidiary bodies are far from perfect institutions, they have the power to facilitate remarkable achievements and leverage partnerships.

“If you are confirmed, I hope you will address the following priorities:

“First, we must actively seek to balance China’s influence. This administration’s pullback from the UN risks enabling China to fill the vacuum by ceding diplomatic ground. China is eager to undermine UN human rights mechanisms and impose China’s authoritarian worldview.

“Second, the UN must be fair and appropriately condemn human rights abuses and atrocities and stop politically-motivated resolutions. One of the persistent weaknesses of the UN system has been the biased and ugly approach towards Israel. You must use your voice to end and combat these efforts.

“Third, the United States must pay our arrears. The UN is in a financial crisis, in part due to US shortfalls. For peacekeeping alone, we are $776 million in arrears. These arrears have accrued in just the last three years, from the US paying only 25% of peacekeeping costs instead of what we actually owed – 28%. Last week, the State Department issued its own report detailing that the U.S. refusal to pay its arrears has ‘diminished our ability to pursue U.S. priorities, reduced U.S. ability to promote oversight and accountability at the UN, reduced standing to promote the candidacy of qualified U.S. citizens to assume senior management roles at the UN, and impaired the ability of peacekeeping missions to operate.’

“Fourth, the US must stop seeking to restrict access to sexual and reproductive health and human rights that improve the lives of women, girls and communities around the word. Most recently, the U.S. egregiously threatened to veto a UN Security Council Resolution for survivors of gender-based violence over reference to survivor’s access to sexual and reproductive health care. That is appalling.

“Finally, the US must work to shore up the U.N.’s humanitarian response system, which is under extraordinary stress. We must do so not merely because it is the right thing do – but also because it is profoundly in our national interest to do so. The United States shares the burden with less risk when we address devastating humanitarian crises issues through the United Nations.

“Our national security is strengthened when we are at the table at the UN, and the UN is more effective with American leadership and values on display.

“Ambassador Craft, I look forward to your testimony today on these pressing issues.”