'At the Heart of the UN's Work': An Interview With Ambassador Susan Rice

FILE - This Aug. 30, 2012 file photo shows US United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice speaking at the United Nations. Republican
FILE - This Aug. 30, 2012 file photo shows US United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice speaking at the United Nations. Republicans lashed out at President Barack Obama and senior administration officials over their evolving description of the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, a late campaign-season broadside challenging the veracity and leadership of an incumbent on the upswing. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

During International Women's Day, the United Nations focuses on fulfilling promises regarding the maternal health, equality, empowerment, education, and safety of women worldwide. There is perhaps no one better suited to help the UN sharpen this focus than U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.

A Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford University, Rice was a foreign policy wunderkind. Before age 30, she joined President Bill Clinton's National Security Council in 1993, eventually serving as one of the youngest assistant secretaries of state under her mentor Madeleine Albright. She is the first African American woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and one of President Obama's most experienced and revered foreign-policy advisers.

With a reputation for being charming, witty and funny in person, Rice is known for being candid and persuasive at the United Nations. In the Security Council, her unique blend of direct but effective diplomacy has successfully facilitated resolutions, delivering harsh sanctions against North Korea and Iran and military intervention in Libya. Her outspokenness even extends to Twitter, where she has been known to call out leaders and raise humanitarian concerns.

She responded by email to interview questions posed by The InterDependent.

How do you view the reelection of President Obama in terms of U.S.-UN relations? What messages did it send to the international community?

From the president's very first day in office, he made clear that we would pursue a new era of engagement abroad that would enable us to more effectively tackle global challenges that require U.S. leadership but cannot be solved alone. Here at the UN, we've worked hard over the past four years to rebuild the U.S.-UN relationship and put it on solid footing. This has meant taking concrete steps to improve the way the United States conducts business at the UN in both substance and style.

On issues ranging from women's rights to climate change, non-proliferation to development, we've proven ourselves to be a reliable partner for the international community. We've repaid hundreds of millions in dues that accrued during the past decade. We've invested in relationships in New York with a diverse group of countries, big and small, rich and poor, North and South. Where the United States was in the past, often isolated on the outside, we are at the heart of the UN's work, demonstrating leadership, collaborating with others, and fighting for America's interests.

Our approach has led to real results: the stiffest UN sanctions ever against Iran and North Korea; an unprecedented mandate and action to save lives in Libya; the historic and peaceful independence of South Sudan; effective backing for a democratically elected government in Cote d'Ivoire; the long overdue completion of a political transition in Somalia, to name a few.

Taken together, I think the international community appreciates this renewed U.S. commitment to multilateral diplomacy and leadership at the United Nations, and the American people can see that our engagement has yielded real results for them.